Ben's first duty as a new pastor was to conduct a funeral service for Albert, a man who had died in his eighties. Since he didn't know the deceased, he invited members of the congregation to say a few kind words about Albert.
No one budged. "Many of you knew Albert for years," Ben prompted them. "Surely someone can say something nice."
After an uncomfortable pause, a voice from the back of the room said, "Well, his brother was worse."
If you died tomorrow, what would people say about you? Would their comments make you proud of the way you lived and the choices you made?
There's an old saying: "If you want to know how to live your life, think about what you'd like people to say about you after you die, and live backwards."
Thinking about the legacy we want to leave can help us keep our priorities straight. When the end is near, it's not likely any of us will say, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office." Unfortunately, many of us only begin to realize the value of the time we have after we've frittered much of it away in shallow ruts going nowhere important.
It's hard to think now what will matter later. But doing so can dramatically improve our chances of living a full and meaningful life with few regrets.
Knowing how we want to be remembered also allows us to make a strategic plan for our lives. How much wiser would our choices be if we had the wisdom and discipline to regularly ask ourselves whether all the things we do and say are taking us where we want to be at the end?
In a sense, we write our eulogies by the choices we make every day.