I recently linked to Eulogy, written by Matt Gemmell, in which he discusses telling those that impact you of what effect they've had on you before they've died. We store up all these lovely memories and feelings and the person who inspired that in us rarely gets to hear it.
Reflecting upon Eulogy, I began to think about something said at the last Deacon's meeting at my church. Let me introduce you to JL Schmidt. JL is a career writer, having spent much of his life thus far in journalism. He's one of those classic newspaper guys who seen and written about pretty much everything. He also leads our small band of Deacons in serving the people of our church.
During part of our meeting he issued a question and a challenge.
"Gentlemen, what's your legacy? If you want to find out, write your own obituary."
The idea seems a bit self-serving at first. But as he explained himself it became quite apparent the intent is to be other-serving.
JL's thoughts on writing your own obituary are quite similar to Matt's thoughts on eulogizing those you care about before they die. Often, this summary of your life is left until you've passed, and it is likely cobbled together by a fledgling journalist climbing the ranks, who likely never knew you. All they have to work with are some meager facts provided by those who have survived you. Your obituary, if done in this fashion, likely will not summarize your life accurately.
Write your own obituary now. Then, and this is the important part, read it. Now examine it. Is that accurate? If so, is it the legacy you want to leave behind? If someone else read it, would what is written match up with the person they know? Is there anything you think you need to change in your life? What do you want your obituary to say, and how can you start to make that happen?
You see, by writing your obituary you have a chance to see whether or not you are wasting your precious time on this earth. If you were to die in the not-too-distant future, would you be known for the ideal version of yourself you want to be known for?
By asking yourself these questions and reflecting upon them, you can then begin to change who your are now to who you want to be remembered as.
I personally want to be remembered as someone who served others selflessly, without hesitation. I have a long way to go on that as I've done a fair share of self-serving these past 30 years. But now that I know what kind of person I hope to be remembered as, I can begin to cultivate that person inside me.
What do you want your legacy to be?