Imagining Your “Well Done”

Let’s talk about death.

In a popular 2005 speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said,

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

While sadly Jobs was not a professing Christian, my point in sharing that quote is to show that even the non-believing world understands the power of mortality as a motivator.

If you read much on personal productivity or “life planning” you’re likely to come across a technique for helping you leverage the knowledge of your impending death to help you focus on what’s most important.

I’m talking about writing your own eulogy.

I first came across this concept in the book Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt. It sounds a bit morbid, writing your own eulogy, doesn’t it?

Which I guess is because, well, technically it is morbid…

The idea is simple:

  1. Write out what you would hope people would say about you at your eulogy
  2. Ask yourself, with my present trajectory in life, would be people really say those things?
  3. Make the necessary adjustments to your goals and habits

It’s the ultimate expression of “beginning with the end in mind.”

Or is it?

There’s one thing that always bothered me about the practice of writing your own eulogy. It emphasizes living a life motivated by what other people will say about you. When, instead, we should be living for an audience of One.

In the final analysis, much of our faithfulness will go unseen by other people. The hours in the prayer closet, the unseen financial stewardship, and the state of my own heart are all things that will be observed and judged only by God Himself.

If God approves of my life, I don’t much care what anyone else has to say.

So I like the write your eulogy thing, but I would propose just one small modification to the timeline. Instead of writing your own eulogy, write your own “well done.”

Ultimately these lives are a stewardship from God, our productivity then should be motivated by the same hope that animated the faithfulness of stewards in the Parable of the Talents.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:23)

So here’s my proposal: Instead of writing your eulogy, write out your “well done.” In other words, write out what you hope Jesus will say to you when you meet face-to-face.

Here’s how you could do that.

  1. Write out what you would hope the Lord would say you’ve done well in stewarding (think family, finances, career, etc.)
  2. Ask yourself, with my present trajectory in life, would Jesus really say I was faithful in those things?
  3. Make the necessary adjustments to your goals and habits

No, this isn’t about earning your salvation. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ, your salvation is secure. We are under grace.

But, friend, I want to hear that “well done.” Don’t you?

And I think this simple practice for evaluating our present life trajectory might be one way we can steer ourselves back onto the track when the distractions of this life knock us off course.

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2 comments
  • This is an excellent perspective. The fact that God knows us intimately, to our very heart and mind – what we really love and think, is a powerful reason to beg Him to produce in us what He desires. And the best part – He will do that! Thanks Reagan.

  • I have been falling off track as of late due to being overwhelmed. This is a good sobering exercise for me thank you Reagan!

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