Many years ago I read the book by Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. I can’t say the book changed my life, but if asked, I could probably still recite the list of habits. One, however was seared into my mind and frequently comes back to me. You may have guessed it’s Begin With the End in Mind. The deep meaning behind that thought consistently impacts my acts and reactions. If you don’t know the analogy, let me help you out. In his book, Covey asks his readers to imagine being at their own funeral and observing what the guests say about them. I know. Morbid! But embedded in that statement is the reality that our lives are made up moments all strung together that make us who we are and what we become. Envision what you want to be remembered for and think about what you want people to say about you when you’re not here. Somewhere in those thoughts and visions is your purpose statement.
Wednesday was my birthday and I have crossed the threshold to senior citizen. I have the same choices today that I had 20 years ago. How will I use the moments I’ve been given? Someone said, nobody gets out of here alive. At any given point, until we are no longer here, we have opportunity to become what we might have been. We have strung out opportunities that are life defining. On a personal level, what are my beliefs, my values, and attitudes that characterize
me? I’m convicted of how many times I say “I want to . . .” or “I should do ….” I catch myself falling into the pattern of aimless wandering because I lose focus and forget what I want to be remembered for.
Let me clarify wandering because it’s more than distraction from things to accomplish in a day or a week. We all have lists of things to do. In fact, lists can keep us on track so we remember things that need to be done, but we are more than our to do lists. For a few moments think about your family and consider friends, including people you know only from online connections. If you asked them right this minute to describe you, what would they say? Are you satisfied with the answers? If you are, do more of that. What if your answers aren’t favorable? You still have time to change it. You can stop wandering and focus on becoming who you want to be.
When I consider all those moments that have become my life, what do I want to be remembered for? I’ve thought of a few.
- Faith in God and complete trust in His sovereignty: While this sounds simple, it’s a serious act of turning over my will to God’s will even when I don’t understand His ways.
- My relationships – wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend: My role is to be loving, attentive, empathetic, authentic, involved, thoughtful, encouraging, supportive, and spread infectious joy.
- Employee, co-worker: How to carry my fair share of the work, be a team player, be genuinely supportive no matter what, be loyal, practice gratitude, be complimentary, give recognition, project joy
- Personally: Be discerning, live with integrity, be diligent, act with kindness, take care of my physical body, strengthen my mind, guard my heart and mind from deceit and wrong, be joyful
Admittedly, that list could be even longer, more intense and transparent. In the context of a full life though, not impossible.
Much of my list is comprised of attitudes which in reality are the foundation of how I’ve built my life. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues [attitudes] of life.” I’ve never met anyone who lives more than one moment at a time. In fact, I don’t know of anyone who has more than 60 seconds in a minute or 24 hours in a day. In Ephesians 5, I read the instruction to make the most of every opportunity. When I look down from heaven I hope people use these words when remembering me: unshakable faith, kind, compassionate, made others feel like they matter, involved, eternal cheerleader, supportive, encourager, attitude of gratitude, enthusiastic, positive, lover of life, infectious joy.
Most of all I want to be remembered for being who God intended me to be and that regardless of all the defective decisions I’ve made through my lifetime, He was able to take the broken and rebuild them for good. I am His workmanship, created by Christ Jesus to do good works. Ephesians 2:10 And when I say good bye to this life I will leave singing 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.