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Denzel Washington Shares His 'Number One' Advice To College Graduates: 'Put God First'

( [email protected] ) May 12, 2015 12:49 PM EDT

Denzel Washington
(Photo : Josh Brasted/Getty Images)
Actor Denzel Washington delivers the commencement address at Dillard University on May 9, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Academy award-winning actor Denzel Washington recently encouraged graduates of Dillard University in New Orleans to "put God first" and view success as an undeserved gift from God during his commencement speech on Saturday.

Washington's ten-minute speech, given to those in attendance at the historically black university in New Orleans, was met with a loud ovation from those gathered, the Huffington Post notes.

"Number one: put God first," Washington began, "Put God first in everything you do. Everything that you think you see in me and think that I have accomplished, everything that you think I have ... everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It's a gift."

The 60-year-old "Training Day" actor also told those gathered at the graduation ceremony about how back in 1975, a woman at his mother's beauty parlor had predicted that he would travel the world and speak to millions of people.

"I've been protected, I've been directed, I've been corrected, I've kept God in my life and He's kept me humble," he said.

"I didn't always stick with Him but He always stuck with me. So stick with Him in everything you do. If you think you want to do what you think I've done, then do what I've done."

Washington also encouraged attendees to remain in communion with God and strive to make a difference in the world around them.

"While you're on your knees in the morning, say thank you: "Say thank you in advance for what is already yours," he said. "True desire in the heart for anything good is God's proof to you sent beforehand that it's already yours. ... When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up. Each one, teach one. Don't just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference."

The son of a Pentecostal minister, Washington often publicly shares his Christian worldview and encourages young people to stay strong in their faith. Last May, the "Remember the Titans" star gave an inspiring speech to a group of young actors highlighting the importance of prayer.

"I pray that you all put your shoes way under the bed at night so that you gotta get on your knees in the morning to find them. And while you're down there thank God for grace and mercy and understanding. We all fall short of the glory, we all got plenty," the Academy Award winner told his audience in a video posted on Facebook by fellow actor Tyrese Gibson.

Washington encouraged the group of what appeared to be student actors to use their talent for good and never forget to pray. "If you just start thinking of all the things you've got to say thank you for, that's a day. That's easily a day," he said.

The actor also warned his young audience against the dangers of wealth, telling them that while money is a good thing, it is important that such a "gift" is not abused . "And we all have that unique gift to go out and touch people to affect people. Understand that gift, protect that gift, appreciate that gift, utilize that gift, don't abuse that gift," said Washington.

Denzel Washington has been labeled as one of the most powerful Christians in Hollywood due to due to his outspokenness concerning his Christian faith. The actor has won two Academy Awards and lent his voice to "The Bible Experience," an audio Bible featuring some of the country's top African-American stars.