Video: Denzel Washington Tells Graduates – “Put God First”

Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington’s very first piece of advice Saturday for graduates of Dillard University consisted of just three words.

“Number one,” he said slowly and resolutely. “Put. God. First!”

During the rest of his brief commencement address — just over 10 minutes long — Washington urged graduates to “fail big” and take chances. But in regard to material things, he cautioned that “you will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.”

“Don’t just aspire to make a living,” he concluded, “aspire to make a difference.”

Here’s video of Washington’s speech:

 

The actor, who received an honorary doctorate from the New Orleans’ school, told a story about his life 40 years earlier. He had a 1.7 grade point average and was sitting in his mother’s beauty parlor when a woman gave him “a prophecy.”

Washington said the woman told him he would “travel the world and speak to millions of people.” But he added that while her words came true, “the most important thing that stayed with me since is that I’ve been protected, I’ve been directed, I’ve been corrected. I’ve kept God in my life and it’s kept me humble.”

“I didn’t always stick with him, but he’s always stuck with me,” Washington said. “Stick with him in everything you do.”

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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