Finishing Well Podcast Notes

The day will come when people will look back on your life and put it in perspective.  What they remember about you will most likely be put in only a few sentences.  Let me ask you.  How do you want to be remembered?

These are some famous tombstones that show how some people will be remembered

James A. Sheldon, a lawyer simply had this on his gravestone.
”The defense rests”.

This is an unknown tombstone.
Raised four beautiful daughters with only one bathroom and still there was love

Talk show host Mercedes Griffin has this on his tombstone. “I will not be right back after this message.”

Rodney Dangerfield has on his tombstone “There goes the neighborhood.”

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared, for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter – Winston Churchill

Not sure who’s grave this was but it said
“Prepare for death and follow me.”

Now, that isn’t funny but then underneath, someone had added:

“To follow you I am not content, How do I know Which way you went.”

The Body of B. Franklin, Printer
Lies here.  Food for Worms For, it will as he believed appear once more
In a new and more elegant Edition corrected and improved By the Author
Benjamin Franklin

See if you can guess this one.
“That’s All Folks!”
 The Man of a Thousand Voices
Mel Blanc the voice of Porky Pig

What would you like written on your tombstone?

Not sure a gravestone determines how we will be remembered

Even a despicable person can have a decent gravestone carved for him.  Let me read you one more.   It says simply My Jesus Mercy.  Do you know who’s gravestone says that?   Al Capone.

A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble. Charles Spurgeon.

I will always remember the first funeral I ever did.   I had never met the man who died.  He was a father to one of my friends.  I had no idea what I was doing so I got as much information about this man as possible. His name was Bill and his life looked amazing.  He fought in world war 2 as a pilot.  He took part in the invasion of Japan.  When he got home he went to school and got his engineering degree then went to work for Goodyear.  Sounds kind of boring, but he actually turned out to be one of the first test pilots for the Goodyear blimp.  After that he got a job testing ejector seats.  After that he worked testing experimental aircraft.   From what I read this dude was Chuck Yeager.  I expected the place to be packed.  Turns out my first funeral was also the smallest.  And it was pretty depressing.  Only a few people shared and what they shared felt hollow.  It seemed like the only good thing they could think of saying was how much this guy loved his dogs.  I’m not sure what was written on his gravestone.  Probably something like, Husband and Father.  I would learn this years afterward what was actually written on the hearts of the people in that room was something like this.  Bill was an alcoholic.

If your life were to be boiled down to one sentence, what would it be?

What will people say about you?  What will be their lasting memory?

Here’s one that Jesus gave us.

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Let’s talk for a second about what it takes to finish well.  With good character.  I talked to Jonathan and Lesley about that this last week.  I asked each of you to come up with a couple of ideas on how to finish well.  Let’s see what you came up with.

  1. Make sure what you’re pursuing is significant

Dallas Willard “One of my favorite stories, is about the dog races in Florida. They train these dogs to chase an electric rabbit, and one night the rabbit broke down and the dogs caught it. But they didn’t know what to do with it. They were just leaping around, yelping and biting one another, totally confused about what was happening. I think that’s a picture of what happens to all sorts of people who catch the rabbit in their life. Whether it’s wealth or fame or beauty or a bigger house, or whatever, the prize isn’t what they thought it would be. And when they finally get it, they don’t know what to do with their lives. This is a huge factor in finishing badly: People need a rabbit that won’t break down”

Excerpt From
Finishing Well
Bob P. Buford

What fits in this category? What is significant enough to be the focus of our attention?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Matthew 16:24-26

It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail. Peter Marshall

“PATRICK MORLEY WRITES ABOUT the nagging sense he had that he was not getting life right. As he started to become successful in his work, people who used to ignore him began to court him. He felt connected because so many people wanted a piece of him. But they were superficial relationships based on his utility to others, not significant friendships of genuine intimacy. At the same time, the people who needed him the most—particularly his children—were getting the least of him. We’ve arrived!” he said to his wife one day. “Yes, but at the wrong place,” she replied. Then this thought occurred to them: “‘Why not prioritize everything we do on the basis of who’s going to be crying at our funeral?’ . . . Why should you and I give ourselves to people who don’t love us, at the expense of those who do?”

“In The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, Darren Hardy mentions a Newsweek article about funerals that said only about ten people will cry at the average funeral. Hardy writes, “I was floored. . . . You mean I can work hard all my life trying to do good and please others, and in the end only ten people will care enough to cry?”[4]
According to the same article, Hardy says, the number one factor that determines whether someone will attend your graveside ceremony is . . . wait for it . . . the weather”

Excerpt from I’d Like You More If You Were More like Me
John Ortberg

2. Maintain your character for the long haul

The Road to Character by David Brooks.  This is how he begins.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being—whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.  Most of us would say that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé virtues, but I confess that for long stretches of my life I’ve spent more time thinking about the latter than the former. Most of us have clearer strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character.

Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out

3) Focus your attention on what is done in the shadows not what is done on center stage

We want everyone to notice us
We want to rise in the company
We want to start on the basketball team
We want to be prom king or prom queen
We want to get into the most prestigious school
We want the best GPA
We want our church to be better than other churches

We want the world to notice us, value us,  honor us.  But I have to tell you, that the most way you will make your legacy and make the biggest difference in the lives of people will be behind the scenes. God can use us to do big and wonderful things.  There are times when we get center stage.  Our 15 minutes of fame. But I have to tell you that most of the time when God does something it’s in the shadows.  It’s so no one can notice.

It will be the word of encouragement you give to a friend
It will be the pat on the back
It will be a listening ear when someone you love is going through a tough time
It will be the meal you bought for the homeless man when no one saw
It will be the shoulder to cry on that you gave to the person who just had a stupid boy break up with them.

There is no line for doing these things. No people you have to crawl over. No ladder you have to climb up.

When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:2-4

That is where your legacy will be made.  That is how you will make a difference in the world.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t have ambition.  Go for it.  I hope you rise to the top of your organization and I hope you make lots of money and get into the college you want to.  I just want you to know that it’s probably going to be what is done in the shadows that makes your legacy.

If you make other people the focus of your life you will never outlive your usefulness

“I believe that it is not dying that people are afraid of. Something else. Something more unsettling and more tragic than dying frightens us. We’re afraid of never having lived. Of coming to the end of our days with the sense that we were never really alive. That we never figured out what life was for.
— Harold Kushner