This article originally appeared in the July 29, 1977, issue of Christianity Today.
Dr. Ockenga, distinguished graduates, faculty, trustees, spouses, parents, and guests: I am deeply honored by your invitation to participate in a commencement exercise that is very special to me and to my family. It's truly a delight to be here. I haven't been able to enjoy the friends and the campus lives of our children as much as I would have liked over the recent years, but I'm proud to be here to share with other parents the joy, the excitement, of seeing our sons and daughters entering into the Christian ministry.
I cannot help remembering that it was only five short years ago that I was giving another commencement addressthis one at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. The occasion was much the same; then, as now, my oldest son, Mike, was graduating from that institution, but the circumstances in my own life were quite different. Five years ago I spoke to Mike's graduating class then as a member of Congress of the United States. A year later I was to become vice-president and then president under totally unexpected, unprecedented conditions.
Today I speak not as an office-holder but as a father and private citizen. From this perspective it's easy enough to see how fleeting things of the world are which we consider important. A man can hold high office, command great powers, and be hailed as the leader of the world, but when his time in office is over he must be prepared mentally, emotionally, spiritually, to relinquish the power, the prestige, and the public acclaim that came with the office. He must retain the quiet confidence that he has been the same man all along and that whatever he contributed as president he can still ...1