“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
I don’t know who first coined the phrase, “Live for your eulogy not your résumé.” President Obama said it, the editor of a major media outlet wrote that she is committed to pursuing human interest stories with that particular emphasis, and a well-known conference of motivational and Fortune 500 leaders recently used the phrase as the title of their national gathering. But as Christians, do we agree? Should we be living for our eulogy rather than our résumé?
I attend many funerals and burial services every year, largely because I am a pastor and often asked to oversee these services and minister to the families of the deceased. The majority of the deceased, as near as I can tell, are not Christian. What I mean by that is that they have not put their faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have no hope beyond the grave. I have been with some of them in their last moments of life, where the deepest matters of the heart are often spoken. Not once have I heard someone on their deathbed say, “I wish I had a better résumé” or “I wish I spent more time at work, got further ahead or earned another degree.” These things were not on their minds during their last moments of life. More often, people will confess that they didn’t spend enough time with their family, that they weren’t as nice as they should have been or that their lives were wasted on the wrong things. Regrets like these are expressed not only by the deceased, but also by those they leave behind. Family members often feel guilty they didn’t spend enough time with the deceased or that they didn’t put a quarrel or long held grudge behind them before their loved one died. The subject matter of eulogies and funeral service remembrances always seem to focus on the good a person has done for others rather than what that person accomplished on his or her résumé. Parents are remembered for their loving care of their children and grandchildren. Community minded people are remember for the contribution they made to good causes and the help they gave to their neighbors. It does seem true that most people value a life by how it’s measured at its end, the eulogy, rather than the résumé.
So as Christians, do we agree that we should be living for our eulogy? I don’t think so. While we are called to work toward human flourishing, our end goal is not to leave a legacy for ourselves. We don’t do good to make a name for ourselves, to find self-worth, or so that good things will be said about us when we die. Rather than living for our résumé or eulogy, I’d like to suggest that we live for doxology. As Christians, the goal our lives is to give glory and praise to God in all things. Colossians 3:17, 23 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Now I do believe that if you work “as for the Lord and not for men” your life will actually do a great deal of good for others. You will undoubtedly “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). If you live for doxology, you will seek the greatest amount of human flourishing, as it is defined from God’s point of view. Living for doxology is much better than living for your résumé or for your eulogy. Life is eternal, through faith in Christ, and there is no reason to prove yourself or to find worth in your own good works. Faith in Jesus frees you for good works because Christ has earned your acceptance. It frees you to do all things as unto the Lord. And If you seek to do all things for the glory of the Lord, your eulogy will be a testimony to God’s work in and through you. It will be doxology. Which will cause others to see that the best measure of life is whether or not it is lived by a faith that is abiding in Christ. A life’s ultimate value is best measured by whether or not Christ is in it. A life in Christ seeks to live for doxology. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)