In her now-viral graduation speech, valedictorian Lydia Owens of Woodmont High School in South Carolina reminds grads to find their worth in Jesus. And her faith-filled address is a powerful message we all need to hear!
High school senior Lydia Owens has many things of which to be proud. As valedictorian, she holds the highest grades in her class. And she’s worked hard all throughout her life for her academic success.
But when tragedy struck two years before her graduation speech, the valedictorian came to realize her identity was rooted in something far more powerful than worldly success. And the faith-filled lesson the young lady shared with her peers in an inspiring speech ended up going viral. (And for good reason!)
Lydia began her speech by challenging her peers to consider what success means to them. Though things like good grades, dream jobs, and wealth may sound like success, Lydia warned her graduating class to look deeper.
“When you decide what success means to you, understand that the things you will accomplish in your lifetime do have value. However, your successes are not what make you valuable because you are so much more than how well you perform… If you believe you are only good enough if you succeed, what happens when you fail?” she pondered. Lydia went on to say, “Placing your identity in the things of this world will disappoint you because they are only temporary.”
The valedictorian learned this lesson firsthand a few years before delivering her inspiring graduation speech.
Tragedy Reveals The True Source Of Success
At just 16 years old, Lydia Owens lost her mother. The valedictorian reveals in her graduation speech that up until that point, she had prioritized getting “perfect” grades above all else. She put schoolwork before everything else in her life.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wrestled with perfectionism,” Lydia shared with the crowd. “I placed my value in my academic achievements… to me, success meant being perfect.”
But all of that changed when Lydia’s mom passed away unexpectedly. Suddenly, the grades she’d once held so dear failed to matter in the face of such a deep loss. And amidst such incredible grief, only one thing could bring “a peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
"When tragedy struck my life, it was not my grades nor my accomplishments that helped me navigate through that loss. When everything else in my life felt uncertain, the only person I could depend on to stay the same was Jesus," Lydia explained and was then met with a round of applause.
During this extremely difficult period, Lydia’s faith soared. And it changed her entire perspective of true success.
“I realized the many years that I spent placing my worth in my academics meant absolutely nothing in light of eternity,” she said. Lydia continued on to explain, “My worth is not found in my successes or my failures. My worth — and your worth — is found in Jesus because He is the only one who will ever satisfy us.”
In Graduation Speech, Valedictorian Finds Identity In Christ Alone
In her graduation speech, valedictorian Lydia Owens shares this incredible truth with the graduating class at Woodmont High School.
“Even if you accomplish all of your dreams or none of them at all, you are still valuable. And you are still good enough because you are made in the image of God,” she proclaimed. “You don’t have to worry about whether or not you will be successful. Because God promises that His grace is sufficient for us and that His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.”
Wow – can I get an “AMEN” on that one?!
Not surprisingly, the powerful words of Lydia’s graduation speech as valedictorian went viral. And though this amazing young lady has every reason to be proud of how she honored God, the humble valedictorian continues to point the light back on Him.
"I don't want anyone to say wow Lydia, you did a great job,” she said. “Yes, I said the words but that was God speaking through me.”
Lydia also credited her late mother as a driving force in her acceptance of Jesus.
“She always pushed me to be my best self and always encouraged me in my faith,” she explained. “She's the reason that I have such a strong faith. She was the example of how to be a Godly woman and how to love people intentionally.”
Lydia’s words bear an important reminder for all of us: to be sure to look to Jesus for our worth and identity.
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WATCH: Faith-Filled Graduation Speech By Valedictorian Lydia Owens
Lydia Owens recently delivered a speech at the Woodmont High School graduation ceremony, where she was recognized as the school’s Valedictorian and Senior Class President. Lydia is the daughter of our Executive Pastor, Brian Owens. So it might not surprise you that she mentioned... pic.twitter.com/MISArwjjPn
- Wayne Bray (@waynebray) June 1, 2023
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