All of us have accomplished a lot in our lives, whether it is making that specific sports team, scoring a role in a play, writing a great story, or achieving any number of long-held goals. For me, I am proud of my photography skills. When I was in high school, I found my mom’s old film camera. I bought a few rolls of film and started learning. And, you know, I got pretty good.
I’m proud of my accomplishments with photography, and all of you should be proud of your accomplishments too. But it is also too easy to think we each got where we are on our own. After all, I worked hard at improving my skills by shooting roll after roll of film. I’m sure all of you spent countless hours practicing too. But none of us did this alone.
For me, my mentor was Dave Wilson, a retired photographer who attended my church. He critiqued my photos, lent me equipment, gave me advice, and encouraged me. He didn’t do this for money; he helped me out of the goodness of his heart. I wouldn’t be where I am now without him. Likewise, you had volunteers who helped you: maybe your first coach, a teacher who spent extra time with you, or even just a kind person who sat and read you a book about doctors that made you want to someday be a doctor. These people helped you get where you are too.
One of my favorite songs, “The Gardener,” has a line “I am the garden, and I’m also the gardener.” Even though I worked hard to grow, other people helped to nurture the seeds in the garden of me. I want to be the gardener for others, and that’s why I love doing service. I can’t pay back my mentors and the countless people who volunteered and made my life richer. But I can pay their favors forward. Doing service is an essential part of being a good citizen in this world. You never know when the work you do will plant or nurture a seed in someone else. What kind of gardener do you want to be?