• Leigh Gerstenberger

12 Choices for the Graduate…from a Wise Janitor



I met pastor and author Todd Gongwer a dozen years ago when I heard him speak at a luncheon in northeast Ohio. I was struck by his down to earth style and common-sense approach to biblical principles.


I was reminded of my interaction with him the other day when a friend shared the list entitled 12 Choices for the Graduate…from a Wise Janitor taken from Gongwer’s book LEAD…for God’s Sake!


Since I find Gongwer’s advice relevant for everyone whether they are a recent graduate; yet to graduate or having graduated years ago I’ve reprinted it this week for your consideration.

  1. Choose to BE where you are: Mobile devices constantly tempt us to check out of where we are mentally, and often emotionally. Manage this urge. Discipline yourself to BE where you are and engage with the people in your midst.

  2. Choose your close friends wisely: Love everyone but spend the majority of your time with people who encourage and challenge you to be your best! Character influences character, both good and bad!

  3. Choose to be intentional with personal development: Find good mentors, seek honest feedback, read good books, and guard your heart. Your intake always affects your output!

  4. Choose to pursue YOUR best over THE best: ‘The best’ is about external comparisons, ‘your best’ is about personal composition. Focus on maximizing the gifts you’ve been given.

  5. Choose to embrace struggles: Pruning is painful, but it’s been a proven path to healthy growth for many of the world’s greatest leaders. EVERY trial you face is an opportunity for growth.

  6. Choose to live by Truth: Virtually every media outlet you encounter is agenda driven. Find the agenda, learn from the perspective, but make your decision based upon TRUTH – it does exist…and it doesn’t change as a result of cultural trends or preferences.

  7. Choose to embrace your role in leadership: Leadership begins with influence from words, attitudes and behaviors; all three of which you choose. Choose wisely, use your influence for the good of others, not just yourself.

  8. Choose to take responsibility: Don’t play the blame game. When issues arise around you, search within first to find how you’ve contributed to the problem, then own it and move on!

  9. Choose to leave things better than they were when you found them: This applies to any job, anything you borrow AND to your interactions with people.

  10. Choose to exceed expectations: Don’t live life to merely meet minimum requirements – give YOUR best! Find the expectations and strive to exceed them; opportunity will follow!

  11. Choose to embrace the journey: Most accomplishments that matter in life take time and effort and require you to engage in a process. Learn to embrace delayed gratification along with this process that comes with it, and your accomplishments will become much more fulfilling!

  12. Choose to prioritize PURPOSE over passions: Aspire to be great and pursue your passions but not at the expense of the people God has place in your path. Relationships are the foundation of our purpose in this life – value everyone of them as such!

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