In an interview on CBS This Morning this morning, Charlie Rose spoke to renowned film director George Lucas. Being a fan of the Stars Wars and Indiana Jones movies, I stopped to listen to the interchange.
One question Rose asked Lucas sent me scrambling for my iPhone to take notes. He asked: “What do you want the first line of your obituary to say?” Another way to ask the question would be, “When people think of you, what do you want them to think?”
Your reputation should never be your objective. A reputation is a byproduct of your daily decisions. Day by day, decision by decision, you build your reputation.
People will think of you as honest if they have consistently heard you speak truth and deal honestly with others. People will think of you as kind if they know you as someone who cares for others and speaks words of encouragement. People will think of you as giving if you have a track record of generosity. No public relations campaign is needed. Your reputation is simply what people know about your daily life.
George Lucas answered the question by saying that he would like to be known as a good father. That is a noble desire, and to accomplish it, he set aside his directing career for 15 years to be father to three adopted children (now adults). He and his second wife now have a two-year-old to add to the mix.
I’ve been a pastor for 25 years. In that time, I’ve preached a lot of funerals. If what is written in an obituary or spoken in a eulogy is out of step with the lifestyle of the dearly departed, people know it. The real eulogy and obituary are what is written on people hearts, what they remember from their encounters with the person being memorialized.
There are many things I wouldn’t mind being said of me. “He was a good father and husband.” “He was fun to be around.” “He was smart and witty.” “He was the most handsome man I’ve ever seen” (okay, that’s a stretch). But mainly I would like people to say, “He was faithful to His call.”
So, what about you? What do you want the first line in your obituary to say?