Today you get your driver’s license and enter a whole new world—a world where you can go where you please without having to rely on your mom or dad. This day marks another step you take toward independence.
But I must warn you, this step is a VERY big step.
Because while this license gives you freedom . . . well, as the saying goes “freedom isn’t free.”
This exhilarating freedom you have been given also comes with enormous responsibility.
Every time you get behind the wheel you take lives into your hands.
The life of the neighbor boy or girl playing with a ball down the street.
The life of the doctor or nurse who has been called in for an emergency surgery.
The life of the hard-working father or mother coming home from work at night.
The life of your girlfriend or your best friend or sibling . . . or even your own life.
When you get behind the wheel everyone is counting on you to make wise decisions.
To be careful. To be aware of your surroundings. To follow the law. And to do your part in making the roads safe for everyone.
Because while driving is fun and adventurous, it can also be painful and deadly. The decisions you make will now have lifelong consequences.
One wrong move is all it takes to forever regret a simple mistake.
So, before I hand over the keys and let you spread your wings, I must ask you to promise me three things . . .
Can you promise me you will make the small choices?
The big choices in life are the ones we often talk about. Choices like where you will go to college or what career you want to pursue.
And yet it is the small choices in life that will affect you the most.
The small choice to silence your phone before you start to drive.
The small choice to take a deep breath first to calm any racing emotions inside.
The small choice to ensure you give yourself a few extra minutes, so you arrive on time.
These choices seem small, but they can make a big difference. And yet making these choices is not easy. They will require you to be a man of great strength.
Can you promise me you will be strong?
As you take to the road, you must be strong enough to go against your feelings in the moment. To do the right thing. You must be . . .
Strong enough to resist the impulse to give in to road rage when another driver is rude.
Strong enough to reject the urge to speed if you find yourself running behind.
Strong enough to refuse to show off even if someone is taunting you.
You must be strong enough to make these small choices every time you get in your car to drive. And yet there is still one more thing I need you to promise me.
Will you promise me you will use it for good?
Will you promise me you won’t just use your car selfishly? But that you will also use it to do some good?
Use it to give your fellow student a ride, the one whose parents are working overtime.
Use it to go volunteer and serve those who are in need.
Use it to grace your grandmother with flowers to cheer her up as she fights cancer.
It has been such a joy to watch you grow, my son. To see you discover new things and learn new skills. And yet I find my heart skipping a beat as I hand over those keys.
For wasn’t it just yesterday when I watched with joy as you took your first steps? When you ran to me in excitement to show me you had lost your first tooth? When I was nervously helping you get ready for the first day of school?
So how can it be that today I am standing here in the doorway, watching you get into the car all by yourself for the very first time?
I take a deep breath and pray, God help him make the small choices that make a big difference. Give him the strength to do what is right. And show him ways to use his newfound freedom for good.
You smile at me and wave as you slowly back out of the driveway.
And the bittersweet tears flow from my eyes as I watch you spread your wings and fly.