Within a few years all you people will be leaving school and setting out on a new chapter in your lives, and it is not going to be as different as you think.
However, this is not what I want to talk to you about this morning. What I want to draw your attention to is the fact that an awful lot of so-called grown-ups, many of whom are really only children with grown-up bodies: an awful lot of these grown-ups spend an awful lot of time complaining about their own lives, how uninteresting their lives are, how they never meet any interesting people, how dull their jobs are, how small the pay is, how silly their wives are, how idiotic their children, how unreliable their cars, how tasteless their food.
Well, all this may be true, and a lot more, but if they are complaining to other people, and invariably they do, they are complaining to the wrong person. They should be complaining to themselves, for they are themselves to blame.
Our lives are what we make of them, and if they are dull and uninteresting, frustrated, colourless and unsatisfying, it is because we make them so.
Our lives are what we make of them, and it is no good blaming those mysterious people 'they' at whose door we like to lay so many of our misfortunes. It is no good blaming God, who is only too ready to help us to put our lives in order and to see us enjoying them if we will let Him. As Shakespeare says in Julius Caesar, 'the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.'
What then must we do to lead full and fruitful lives about which we will not wish to complain?
The first thing (and this is the first step in being really grown-up) is to understand that our lives are what we make them, and the credit for a good life is ours, just as the blame for a bad one is ours also.
The second thing is to know ourselves. We are not all the same, we are all different. We have not all got it in us to be leaders, nor should we have. Most of us will be followers of one sort or another, and to be a good follower takes just as much character and courage as to be a leader. We have not all got the kind of mind that makes a scientist, the sensitivity which makes an artist, or the coördination and quick reactions which make a sportsman. But there is no one who has not got qualities, gifts and talents of one sort or another, and we must find out and know what our own talents are.
If the second thing we must do if we are to lead full and fruitful lives is to know ourselves, the third thing we must do is be ourselves.
It is astonishing how few people have the courage and self-confidence really to be themselves. Yet, unless they are, they can never have full, fruitful and happy lives; for a full, fruitful and happy life is a life of self-fulfilment, a life in which the qualities, gifts and talents we possess and which are our own, are developed and used by us to the full. So many people spend most of their time and energy trying to be somebody else, trying to keep up with the Joneses. Never mind about the Joneses, they are somebody else. You can never be like them. Do not try. Be yourself, and you will be a much better person than you will ever be by trying to be like someone else. Know yourself, and, with God's help, fulfil the nature of your own being; be yourself.
Our lives are what we make of them.