My pastor asked this question during a sermon. “Are you living your life for your resume or your eulogy?” It wasn’t the main point of the message, but I can’t let it go. He had first heard the question during a short TED Talk by David Brooks.
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The question itself – and the video unpacking it – have me pondering what I do, and why I do it.
Here are the opening lines of David’s talk (I’ve embedded the whole TED Talk toward the end of this post.)…
So…I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you put on your résumé, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you – in your depth? What is the nature of your relationships? Are you bold, loving, dependable, consistency?
And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But at least in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no.”
So…I’ve been thinking…
As with most really good questions, this one has caused me to ask a few others. And while the video isn’t a “Christian” video, and David doesn’t quote the Bible (or any other religious text), the follow-up questions bouncing around in my brain are all tied to specific sections of the Bible.
Are my eyes fixed on what is seen or unseen?
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:18, NIV
This question and the next are two sides of the same coin. It all has to do with what you are focusing on. Are you focusing on the “resume virtues” (seen) or the “eulogy virtues” (unseen)? Is more of your attention and effort aimed at that which is temporary or that which is eternal?
Sadly – when I am honest – I must admit the seen-and-temporary ends up owning more of my brain time than the unseen-and-eternal.
Do I spend more time looking forward or backward?
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:13-14, NIV
If the last question has to do with focusing on the temporary vs. eternal, this one also has to do with the past vs. the future. And this one has the potential to be the greatest life-sucker and joy-killer.
Do you spend more time looking ahead with resolve or back with regret? What’s that “one thing” you can’t seem to let go of? What is the “goal and prize” that God has called you to? What are you allowing to hold you back from running toward the prize with bold freedom?
All of us are shaped by our past mistakes. But being shaped and being defined are two very different things.
Am I training or hoping?
…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8
It’s easy to live for your resume. It’s much harder to live for your eulogy.
In life – as with exercise, schoolwork, parenting, or marriage – the easy way rarely leads us to the results we long for.
And yet how many of us train in these areas?
How many of us evaluate deeply, plan accordingly, and execute determinedly? Most of us hope our life makes a difference. We hope our kids turn out or our marriage improves. We hope the test goes well or the pounds miraculously disappear.
But as a wise person once told me, “Hope is not a strategy.”
Take the next five minutes and watch this video. You’ll be glad you did. Although you may very well spend the next several days – or weeks! – asking yourself some hard, necessary questions.
David Brooks: “Should you live for your resume…or your eulogy?”
[reminder]Which of these three questions do you wrestle with the most? After watching the video, what questions run through your mind? [/reminder]