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Why the Bible is the best graduation gift you can give

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 (AP)

Chances are, each of us has a relative or family friend who is finishing college this month and moving on to the next phase of life. Even in the best of circumstances, graduation can bring a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety. 

New graduates will face the challenges of finding jobs, managing finances and building healthy relationships and families. As loved ones search for the perfect gift to launch their graduate into the next phase of life, what the class of 2013 may need more than anything is a seemingly difficult gift to give: wisdom.

But how do get this wisdom handed over in real time to those stepping out of their comfort zones and into the real world? How can a gift show our support and optimism for their future ahead, while also equipping graduates to face whatever life may bring?

Perhaps it is as simple as a visit to your neighborhood bookstore, favorite online retailer or even a free downloadable App to give what is arguably the ultimate instruction manual on life: the Bible.

In the book of James in the Bible, the author writes: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5, NIV) The Hebrew word for wisdom “chokmah” means “skill in living,” and the Bible is filled with practical instruction for every area of life. Whether setting sights on ultimate purpose, goodness, forgiveness, freedom and the kind of service the world needs most, the Bible packs a full dosage for this year’s graduates.

Unfortunately, some new feedback from this demographic reveals that only about a third of those ages 18-28 are open to receiving wisdom from the Bible. Among millennials self-identifying as Christians, American Bible Society’s recent State of the Bible report found that only:

  • 33% of those 18 to 28 are interested in the Bible’s wisdom on illness and death
  • 40% want the Bible’s advice on family issues
  • 42% want biblical wisdom for parenting
  • 35% would seek biblical advice on dating and relationships

That’s why those who have experienced the Bible—those who know the hope it brings, the comfort it provides and the guidance it gives—must share it with the young people we know. There’s a reason the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, and every graduate needs the chance to reference and learn from it.

So how do we reach this new generation with the Bible’s message when most young people today say they rarely read books? According to Pew, millennials are increasingly (81%) relying on mobile devices to connect to the Internet. Resources designed to help new graduates grapple with life’s biggest questions will inevitably need to deliver that content in a mobile-friendly format. That’s why American Bible Society partners with great resources like YouVersion and continues to actively develop technology for reaching this generation anytime, anywhere with the wisdom of the Bible.

Regardless of the delivery of messages and resources, it’s our responsibility to help new graduates navigate the unfamiliar waters ahead. The future is full of possibilities for the class of 2013, and by engaging with the Bible, they can find the wisdom they need to build lives of meaning and purpose. Let’s do our part and lead them to this valuable book.

Doug Birdsall is president and CEO of American Bible Society. With more than 30 years spent pointing people to the message of the Bible, he took the reins of one of America’s oldest charities in 2013. Under Birdsall’s leadership, the 197-year-old American Bible Society continues to maximize opportunities to extend the reach of Scripture globally and encourage engagement with its life-changing message.