WHAT WILL MATTER…a perspective on 2011

I recently read a blog with piece from the Josephson Institute of Ethics on living for what counts. I like this. What would you add or change here?

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;
Not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories,
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

“What Will Matter“. Michael Josephson, one of the nation’s leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Elizabeth Edwards Lasting Legacy

By this time I’m sure you have heard that Elizabeth Edwards has passed away. After a life of great victories and some great challenges she leaves a lasting legacy of optimism, leadership, loyalty and living life at full tilt.

My friend Catherine passed on this quotation from Elizabeth that touched both of us. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”

These words remind me of Psalm 90 when we are told to “remember and number our days.”

So why don’t you take the rest of 2010 and imagine that you had ONLY 2011 left to live. Yes, on January 1, 2011 you are ought of here, gone, exist on this earth no more.

So, how will you live differently?  Answer these questions and let me know your thoughts?

1. How will you spend your time differently beginning to day?
2. What critical relationships will you concentrate on?
3. How will you spiritual life be affected?
4. What lasting legacy will you focus on in the last year of your life?

America has drifted away from our core values?

America was founded on a strong character ethic–a Judeo-Christian ethic. Our country started with individuals who had a an internal true north pointed toward a strong sense of universal principles like hard work, honesty, kindness, justice, compassion, community and so on.

This is why the Founding Fathers said so often that “good government is based on self government.” Their point was that the way to have a good and limited government was for people to govern or discipline themselves. And, that is indeed what happened. People were disciplined around a set of principles or straight lines. They self governed which allowed for minimal external government. For instance, if a person is honest and lives by “my word is my bond” it minimizes external controls such as extensive, detailed legal documentation, courts to settle disputes and lawyers to make the case.

But we began to loose our straight lines. How? Some of my thoughts are…

  1. We’ve become more dysfunctional as a culture debilitating our ability to stay true to core value.
  2. Materialism has tended to make us less needy and dependent on character-based living due to apathy.
  3. Our faith-based institutions have ceased to elevate right living with a sense of urgency.
  4. The media has elevated values and principles that counter fundamental goodness and character.
  5. We’ve sought quick fixes and taken shortcuts that have lead to the violation of our core values.
  6. The family breakdown has confused values such as loyality, commitment, love, fidelity, etc.
  7. We’ve drifted (more on that in my next blog).

What do you think? I’d like your feedback on this and get your insights. Let’s try to figure this one out for all of our sakes.

Focus on the Roots, not the Fruit!

In reading AW Tozer’s Root of Righteousness today, I was moved again by these words:

Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles. The fruit of a free is determined by the tree, and the fruit of life by the kind of life it is. What a man is interested in to the point of absorption both decides and reveals what kind of man he is; and the kind of man he is by a secret law of the soul decides the kind of fruit he will bear. The catch is that we are often unable to discover the true quality of our fruit until it is too late.

Think about this…our fruit is what we ARE. Our depth of success, fulfillment, impact, significance and abundant living (John 10:10) is in direct proportion to what Tozer calls the secret law of the soul – our character.

And, according to Tozer (my bullet summary) we need to do the following.

  1. Focus on the Roots (those important principles and habits you can develop) not the Fruit! Emphasize those things that are truly important. Tozer calls this the “power of affinity” when he says By affinity I mean the sympathetic attraction which certain things and persons have for us. The human heart is extremely sensitive and altogether capable of setting up an inward relationship with objects far removed and forbidden. As the needle of the compass has an affinity for the north magnetic pole, so the heart can keep true to its secret love though separated from it by miles and years. What that loved object is may be discovered by observing which direction our thoughts turn when they are released from the hard restraints of work or study. Of what do we think when we are free to think of what we will? What object gives us inward pleasure as we brood over it? Over what do we muse in our free moments? To what does our imagination return again and again?
  2. Watch your mood. Mood is mental weather. It is internal climate and it must be favorable to the growth of spiritual graces or they will not appear in the soul. The person who allows day after day a chilly climate to prevail in his heart can’t expect spiritual blessing.!
  3. Spend time in God’s Presence. One swallow does not make a spring, nor one hot day a summer; nor will a few minutes of frantic praying before service bring out the tender buds or make the flowers to appear on the earth. The field must be soaked in sunshine over a long period before it will give forth its treasures. A person’s heart must be soaked in prayer before the true spiritual fruits begin to grow. As the field has learned to live intimately and sympathetically with the rain and the sunshine, so must you learn to live with God.

So what is your experience? How have you seen fruit flow from character?