A Living Eulogy

The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.”
–Walter Lippmann,

We’ve probably all done it. It’s the exercise that’s supposed to prompt you to think about how you want to live your life. The purpose is to consider the memory that you want to leave behind after you’re gone. Writing your own eulogy and making a comparison to where you fall short is supposed to show you where you need to make progress in your life. It’s a way to set goals, identify dreams and realize aspirations. Contemplative writing designed to startle you into compliance.

As with most contrived things, I never placed a lot of value in the exercise. Sure, there was a purpose in it, and I understood that, but did one really have to go through the process of writing their own eulogy to know what was missing from their life. Besides, it seemed that it was more likely that you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment when you fail to achieve what your self-created eulogy said. One never knows what life will throw at you. How could you begin to anticipate what you want your legacy to be?

In a lot of ways, I still believe that this is true. The biggest impact that we have is not summed in quantifiable statistics that can be anticipated prior to our demise. Sure, we may desire to live in a big house, be a successful businessperson or find the cure for cancer, but our chances for success in these endeavors can not be readily ascertained early in life. The things that we can purposefully impact have to do with how we conduct our lives rather than what we achieve. It’s in the manner which we impact other people that our legacy is solidified. They are the ones who reflect who we were after we’re gone. It is with others that our impact is eternal.

It’s probably why Jesus didn’t choose to leave behind a monument or an autobiographical tome as our guide to the Christian life. Instead, He poured His life into others and left behind a group of disciples that reflected His teaching. His disciples were His legacy and they led the way for those that followed. He imparted to them His Spirit and the will and conviction that salvation comes from faith alone. It was this conviction that propelled them to reach the world.

Had the disciples written their eulogies prior to meeting Jesus, they probably would have said something along the lines of “He was a great fisherman”. Thank goodness they decided to be fishers of men instead.

What do you think?