Thursday, June 11, 2015

How to Build Your Eulogy

David Brooks of the New York Times recently released a new book titled "The Road to Character" in which he explores stories of people whose moral traits he admires. The seed for the book, he says, came when...
It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. 
We are masters of building our resumé virtues, Brooks says, but are largely clueless about building our eulogy virtues. So he set out on a quest to fill his "moral bucket list."

I find his distinction between resumé and eulogy virtues to be very powerful because it strikes me as a secular way of stating what Jesus mentioned several times. In Matthew, Jesus tells a crowd to "store up treasures in heaven." And in Luke, Jesus warns about the troubles that come to those who store up riches for themselves, but "are not rich toward God."

Jesus invited people into a new way of life by talking about and demonstrating a life that wasn't defined by economic or political success, but instead led people to use words like hope and light and joy and love and freedom. God's interest in our lives, he said, leads us to prioritize the eulogy virtues and puts the resumé virtues in a proper (limited) perspective.

For most of my life, I've heard people lament that we work too much, are focused on the wrong priorities, etc., but it seems to me that more people are starting to publicly do something about it. There seem to be a growing number of stories about people taking less pay for jobs with "greater meaning" or arranging their lives for more time with family. Brooks seems to be one of those. And I hope that in the coming years, more of us will, too. How powerful would it be if our world was filled with people whose lives led others to use words like hope and light and joy?

From the Gray,
Pastor Ari

“Am I a part of the cure or am I part of the disease?” -Coldplay, “Clocks”

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