A gift guide for graduates

May 26, 2017

Tis’ the season of turning tassels. If your family is like ours, your calendar is full of graduation ceremonies and parties to attend. Since we all have a call to impact the next generation with God’s Truth (Titus 2:1-5), this time of year presents an exciting and unique opportunity. The graduates in our spheres of influence are at a crossroads, eager to find purpose and identity. Instead of simply offering platitudes and “Atta Boys/Girls” we can seize this moment and hold high the banner of Truth.  

Here are some ideas for how to bless the graduate in your world by giving gifts that matter.

It starts with the card

The demands on your graduate's time and brain space are high. You may not get a lingering lunch with them or a morning at the coffee shop to talk about what matters. What you do get is “The Card.” Don’t think of graduation cards like folded cardstock with bills tucked inside. Think of them as a pulpit, an opportunity to download some wise counsel straight into the heart of your graduate.

One pitfall of graduation is that for a moment, the world seems to be all about you. Everyone seems to be asking, “What scholarships did you get?”, “Where are you going to college?”, “How’s your job searching going?” Instead of simply scribbling “Congrats!” take a moment to remind them that their future belongs to the Lord. His will is paramount. His promises are waiting for them on the other side of the graduation stage.

Here are some great verses to include:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-34).

Better than a stack of benjamins

Most graduates might initially disagree, but it’s been long enough since my own graduations for me to realize that there are many gifts more important than money. Instead of stuffing some cash in the card you just took so much time to write, consider these gift ideas designed to help you do more than celebrate graduation, but to pass the baton of faith to the next generation. Your graduate needs more than adorable dorm decor; they need resources to keep them rooted and grounded in God’s Word. Through years of student and college ministry, these have become some of my favorites:


Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by Kevin DeYoung. This little book makes a great gift for all graduates. Author Kevin DeYoung offers practical and biblical guidelines for decision making. The end result is liberating, as readers are freed from the pressure to seek God’s will in all decisions through cosmic confirmations.

“Jesus does not want us to worry about the future,” DeYoung writes. “God knows what we need to live. When He wants us to die, we will die. And as long as He wants us to live, we will live. He will provide us with the food, drink, jobs, housing, with everything we need to live and glorify Him in this life until He wants us to glorify Him by dying. Worrying and fretting and obsessing about the future, even if it is a pseudo-holy worry that attempts to discern the will of God, will not add one single hour to your life, and it will certainly not add any happiness or holiness either.”

The proud members of the Class of 2017 (and 2018, and 2019. . .) need the wise and practical reminders in this book.

Speaking of Kevin DeYoung, I’d recommend his book, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem for graduates too. Like Just Do Something, Crazy Busy is a call to sanity in response to God’s Word. Our graduates have had a steady drip of the lie that busy people are better people throughout their academic career. This book points them to dig up the root problems that lead to busyness and commit to serving Christ for the long haul.

This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years by Jaquelle Crowe is a great gift option for the high school graduate in your world. Written by a young writer for young readers, this book applies the gospel to daily life in a way that is essential, and so often hard to find. If you want your graduate to define their identity, their relationships, their sense of community and their role in the church through the lens of the gospel, grab this book.

The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics and The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. I gave these books to my husband when he was ordained into the ministry (a graduation of sorts), and we have enjoyed them for many years. Beautifully designed and loaded with the riveting storytelling and wisdom unique to Lewis, any graduate would be lucky to have these books on their shelf.


Since there is no greater source of wisdom, knowledge or purpose than God’s Word, Bibles make the perfect graduation gift. Here are two of my favorites to give away:

The She Reads Truth Bible. The young women you know likely already love and follow SheReadsTruth.com, a ministry with a simple mission to see women in the Word of God everyday. Hot off the presses, just in time for graduation, The She Reads Truth Bible is beautifully designed, while pledging uncompromising allegiance to the authority of Scripture. With features like key verses, reading plans and highly designed maps and charts, the student in your world will become a better student of God’s Word with this resource.

The ESV Study Bible and ESV Single Column Journaling Bible. These are legacy Bibles that your graduate can keep for a lifetime. The ESV Study Bible is jam packed with notes and cross-references. The journaling Bible offers space to annotate. Both make beautiful gifts and even more beautiful changes in the heart of the reader who opens them.


Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. My own mentor gave me this study when I graduated from high school and challenged me to dig in as I adjusted to life as a college student. Newly independent, I had to decide whether I would use my wings to fly toward rebellion or toward righteousness. It seems like an easy choice now, but it didn’t always then. I have vivid memories of laying out a blanket on the lawn of my college campus and digging into this study. I’d like to picture the graduate in your world doing the same.

Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom. This 12-week study has had a profound impact on my life and the lives of many others I know. In addressing topics like humility, honesty, repentance, obedience and sexual purity, this study plays out like spiritual bootcamp. The graduate who completes it will find themselves deeply rooted in God’s Word and better able to respond to their circumstances with an eternal perspective.

Fun gifts with purpose

A compass

A favorite graduation gift we love to give away is a nice compass inscribed with Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” It’s a practical and beautiful reminder to point our hearts and lives toward Jesus and simply follow where he leads us.

The Settlers of Catan

It would be a stretch to try to find a deeply spiritual meaning behind this gift, but I still recommend it. This strategy game is a favorite at our house, and I imagine it would be in dorm rooms and student unions too. Your graduate is going to make new friends in the months ahead. Let them know that you’re praying those friends will be of the godly, iron-sharpening-iron variety who love to spend hours playing board games.

The best gift of all

Of course the best gifts can never be wrapped up. These are the ones your graduate needs most of all. Model the life you long for them to find. Love God, love others. There’s a good chance the graduates in your world will notice and follow your lead. Then pray like crazy. I don’t need to startle you with the statistics about young people and the church. I bet you already know that there is cause for concern. But there is also cause for great hope. God’s plan has always been for faith to be passed down through the generations. He is already equipping the next generation to lead, love, serve and make disciples. Let’s do everything we can to point them to Jesus along the way.

Erin Davis

Erin is a speaker, author and blogger who addresses women of all ages nationwide and is passionately committed to sharing God’s Truth with others. She is the mother of three boys and the author of 13 books which can be found on her website. Erin lives on a small farm in rural Missouri and … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24