Three generations from now, most of us will be a nameless face in a digital (presumably) scrapbook that nobody can identify.
You know this to be true because you’ve gone through your own grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ photo albums or photo boxes and couldn’t place names with faces. But that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your spiritual mark—even if people don’t remember you.
In my devotional e-book Finishing Well: Living with the End in Mind, I shared the following story, with Ecclesiastes 2:16 as the backdrop: “For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!”
My great-grandfather, Hugh, struggled with alcohol — sometimes spending a large portion of his paycheck at the saloon. One day, he was headed up the stairwell to the saloon when God asked him a simple question: “What are you doing?” Hugh shoved his paycheck back into his pocket, walked back down the stairs and never touched another drop. He knew the Lord had spoken.
After his conversion, he became a voracious reader of the Bible, memorizing large portions and speaking them over his family. As a result, my grandmother, Modene, became a Christian. As an adult, she became one of the founding members of a church in her hometown, where she served faithfully for the rest of her life.
Hugh’s legacy was passed onto Modene, and her work is still alive in the form of her church many years after her death, and it’s alive in me. They both finished well, to God’s glory. In a generation or two, nobody will remember Hugh or Modene, but their service for the kingdom lives on in the people they touched and loved.
The only way to finish well is to live in reverse — to figure out how you want the end to look like, then choose the right priorities to make sure it happens.
Is your deepest desire to be someone who passed along scriptural knowledge to your kids? If so, then being in the Word on a regular basis needs to be your priority. And your kids need to see you with your Bible open as you freely talk about matters of faith.
If you want your ministry to have been one of service, then you need to find ways to serve on a consistent basis.
And so it goes.
You know all of this. But we all need to be reminded every once in a while.
For me, when I’m on my deathbed, I want my ministry to have been someone who stepped into the gap — someone who was a father to the fatherless to nieces and nephews and someone who cared for the needs of the older generation(s) in my family.
That means living differently than other never-married men my age. And even if I do get married, this will be something my wife will understand — every bit as much as I would understand the choices she’s made to finish well.
I’d love to hear your plans to finish well. Just hit the reply button and share away.
If you’re interested in reading Finishing Well: Living with the End in Mind, you can download a copy from the retail site of your choice for $0.99.