Fred (a fictitious name) worked for the same company for 35 years. The day came for him to retire, so he received his gold watch and went home to enjoy the rest of his days.
One afternoon neighbor Sam asked, “Fred, are you enjoying your retirement? What do you do with all that free time on your hands?”
“Oh, I get up in the morning, read the obituary, and if my name is not listed, I go back to bed and sleep ‘til noon,” replied Fred.
How do you think people really see you? What if you could read your own obituary? You may think you are kind, considerate and gracious, but friends and acquaintances may see you differently.
One man did awake to read his obituary. In 1888 Alfred Noble saw his name printed in the obituary column. It was a simple journalistic error. Actually, it was Alfred’s brother that had died, and the reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong person.
The disturbing news shocked Alfred into seeing himself as the world saw him. Known as the “Dynamite King,” Alfred made an immense fortune from explosives. The public knew him as a destroyer, a merchant of death.
While reading the obituary column with horror, he resolved to make a positive impact on the world. The only thing he could think of was to distribute his fortune in such a way as to promote peace in the world.
In his last will and testament his life’s ideals and ultimate purpose would be remembered in the future. Each year a monetary prize would be given to the person who had done the most for the cause of world peace. You know it as the “Nobel Peace Prize.”
You are a businessman or businesswoman, what kind of obituary would your employees write? You are a salesman, what would your clients say? You are a teacher, what would your students say? You are a parent, what would your children write?
Since we cannot read our obituary, let’s rewrite it, beginning today. Be determined to live the best you can, be kind to others, and always be ready to help someone in need.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
Here is strength for living when doing good is not always popular.
— Jerry Burnaman is pastor of Grays Prairie Missionary Baptist Church