Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Things were crazy for our family around graduation time back in June, but I've had so many people mention to me our own Daniel Phillips' SLO High valedictorian graduation speech. Wish I could have been there.

Daniel took full advantage of his public platform to boldly proclaim his faith in Jesus Christ and encourage the same in others. In this he reminds me of another Daniel who did the same. Where is the Lord calling you to be a "Daniel"?

Here is the text of his speech for your own encouragement this week. . . .

Hello class of 2009! It is my distinct pleasure to address you today – a good group of friends, some of whom I have known for 13 years all the way back to kindergarten at Los Ranchos. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time together, and will always treasure the memories we’ve made.

Well, here we are: transitioning from 1 stage of life to the next. It’s an exciting time, but also, I believe, a good time for reflection. I do have some advice to give you that, if you choose to take it, I know will fundamentally impact your lives for the better. But mine is quite different from the advice given last year on this stage, in which the class of 2008 was advised that they love above all themselves. Those words puzzled me when I heard them, because what about us is so worth loving? Take myself, for example. You might not think it, but I’m a wretched, awful failure when it comes to living a moral life. Often I am prideful, covet what I don’t have, judge others before myself, struggle with fleshy desires, and put my wants and needs above others’. I, you, we all fall short of how we’re supposed to live and treat one another.

So how could we love ourselves above all when the almighty God of the universe has not only created and provided for us, but took on human form in the person of Jesus to die a brutal, humiliating death on our behalf as an atoning sacrifice for us? He died in our place so that the numerous sins we’ve committed, only a few of which I just owned up to myself, might be justly paid for and wiped off our slate so that the holy, blameless Lord might see us as holy and blameless and worthy of entering unto His presence should we but return His love.

This is love: that He who deserved all love loved us who did not love Him and deserved no love. Love God above all!!!! I can think of no better advice to give you than this, because following it will not only give you meaning and purpose for the remainder of your earthly lives, but ensure that you do live after your time in this world is finished. Above all love yourselves? No, above all love God, because above all He loves you. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Go, Daniel! I got goose bumps the first time I read this. An amazing, brave young man. A role model for our boys. (And a great VBS helper, too!)

Mama Mote said...

Watched it on DVD and cried. Was so proud of him knowing he was way out of his comfort zone. I love how God just opened the doors for him to give this speech, too. What a blessing for his class, even if some don't realize it.

Anonymous said...

At 5 years of age, Daniel asked the man accepting donations at the Goodwill truck, "Do you have Jesus in your heart?" We knew then that God would use him mightely. Grandma and Grandpa Phillips

Brendan Clark said...

This is so rad.

Irish Girl said...

I was there, he did an AMAZING job!!! For those of you who don't know Daniel personally, he is incredibly shy, so this was HUGE for him! He rocked it!!!!

Amy-Lynne said...

Amazing, absolutely AMAZING ! ! !
Your courage is exceeded only by the worthiness
of The ONE Who LOVES Us!
I'm proud to know you, DANIEL !

Anonymous said...

Hate to rain on the parade, but was this appropriate for a public school (funded by public tax dollars) speech? What was the public reaction to his speech? Hope it didn't backfire.

Anonymous said...

I attended the graduation ceremony and Daniel's speech pretty much RUINED this event for many of the Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists and non-bigoted Christians who were forced to listen to his very insensitive (and poorly delivered, due to his asthma attack) speech. I have tried to raise my children to respect and honor the Christian faith, but the arrogant assumption on the part of so many SLO High School Christians that THEIR religion is the right one and all other religions are wrong has made both of my children very wary of Christians.

Anonymous said...

Dear Daniel,
I hope you read this blog so that you know how I peronally felt by your speech.
I was there with my family and was excited about my daughter's graduation. My father who loves his grandaughter and values education was equally as excited.
When you started talking about Jesus we were shocked. This is a public school, how could this speech be allowed.
We are Jewish, you made us feel alienated, you made my daughter who considered you to be a kind person, uncomfortable at her own graduation after she had been a good,hard working student since she started school in kindergarten.
After, doing research I found out of other cases where students deceived their schools by adding religious content after their speeches had been vetted. In one case the student mike was turned off, she sued the school district and lost the case. Another student had to write an apology in the newspaper. I found this information through the SLO Law Library, The Anti-Demation League and the internet.
Because of what you did the Anti-Defamation League was contacted and something very positive happened. The ADL is starting the "No place for hate program" which will educate students about diversity, homophobia, world religions in all schools in San Luis Obispo.
I would like you to make an apology in the newspaper to everyone icluding Jews, Muslims, atheist, agnostics, all the students, the school district. This would be a brave act. Will Jones is working on this never happening again. A written policy needs to go out to everyone involved with the SLO schools that a religious speech cannot be given at graduation.
I would like you to think about how you would feel attending your UCSB graduation if a jewish student got up and spoke about Judiasm. This wouldn't happen because Judiasm states that all religious are valid and so no one needs to convert to Judiasm. I hope your experience at a school with a Jewish population of 20% will make you grow up to be more tolerent and sensitive.

Best wishes
Laura Stein

Anonymous said...

After reading the comment I sent I realized I need to correct spellings mistakes that I made on personally. tolerant and included.