Three Things (Always) Remain

by Andy Wood on April 20, 2009

in Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, Love, LV Cycle, Principle of Legacy

my_tombstoneWrite your epitaph.  That was the assignment.

I was attending a nifty goal-setting seminar, sponsored by a local business.  The two presenters were carrying us through a series of exercises to help us clarify our highest priorities, so that we could prioritize our time consistently with our deepest passions.  Think of it as a LifeVesting seminar where Jesus was welcome, but not necessarily the host or guest of honor.

Anyway, the presenter asked us to reply to the following:

“(Your name) was known for…”

But this was no press release or publicity sheet.  I had to assume the ultimate.

I’m dead.

Room temperature.

Grinning at the moon.

Taking the dirt nap.

And all that’s left of me is what I could stuff into this vapor of a life.  So, supposing I had some control over how I would be remembered and reported, what was Andy known for?

Up until this time in the seminar, I had enjoyed visions of success.  Suddenly I was faced with significance.  It was moving.  Sobering.  Eye-opening.

They gave us fifteen minutes.  I think I was done in five.  I was surprised how quickly the words flowed on paper, and to this day, they remain in my prayer notebook just as I wrote them.

Want to know what they are?  Heck no.  Write your own!

Just kidding.  Here’s what I wrote:

Andy Wood was known for:

  • Making a difference in the lives of others, beginning with his own.
  • A faithful husband, loving father, a man of God, and a man of integrity.
  • A man who was a builder, first of human lives, then of more tangible things.
  • A man who knew how to laugh, especially when others were sad or miserable.
  • A man who knew adversity and overcame it.
  • One who bred loyalty in people.
  • One who loved to create, who understood and fulfilled his life purpose, and who helped others find theirs.
  • And one who remained throughout his life a friend of children.

What was so eye-opening about that, you ask?  The fact that it was much less about achievement than it was about relationships.  That it was less about my estate (that’s actually a relief!), and more about the effect I had on other people.  That stripped of pleasure, profit, and power, what’s most important to me – and probably you, too – is faith, hope, and love.

Reinhold Neibuhr wrote (hey look, I’m quoting a theologian!):

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.  Nothing true or beautiful makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.”

“There are three things that will endure,” Paul said, “faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”

Even if there were no heaven or eternal life, those three factors –

what you really believe,

what you confidently expect from the future,

and who you really love –

form the key to your influence on future generations.

So what are you passing on?  Here’s a thought:  let’s not wait until we’re dead to start writing our epitaphs.  What will yours say?  I dare you to write yours below, then live it.

Miki April 20, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Hi Andy,

I’ve done this exercise as well…very sobering, thought provoking, and yes – life changing! You hit the nail on the head when you said the exercise brought out less about achievement and more about relationships. I call that more about connections and less about things.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if our children experienced this exercise before graduating from high school?! I can see how that would change the world!

On another note, I love your humor. It’s refreshing to visit a blog and feel like I’m having a conversation with the writer. Well done! We’ll be visiting often.


Mikis last blog post..Redefining Success

Andy Wood April 20, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Thanks, Micki! I appreciate the encouragement, and hope you’ll stop by often.

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