Imagine for a moment that…poof!…you’re dead. (I know, way to start off on a positive note, right? Oh well.)
Character Traits At A Funeral?
Your soul is hovering over the casket and you’re listening to your spouse, your children, and your friends take turns talking about you at your funeral. Your wife stands before the crowd of people and says,
“He always worked so hard at his job. He was at the office usually 70-80 hours every week. He always made sure I was able to purchase the latest designer clothes. I’ll always remember that about him.”
Would you be happy with that speech from your beloved spouse? Or how about your children’s speeches. What if your youngest child stood up and said,
“My dad loved to watch television! He was crazy about ESPN sports. And I’ll always remember him with a thick novel in hand. He was an avid reader. He didn’t get a chance to play catch with me much, but he was sure knowledgeable about the stats of his favorite team!”
Again, I assume that speech wouldn’t bring any tears to your eyes. Lastly, what about your friends or co-workers? What if each of them said something like,
“Janet was such a good salesperson. She could sell ice to Iceland. I was always impressed with her business savvy. What I’ll remember most about Janet was how she handled the Microsoft account which our company almost lost. She displayed some amazing tactics that day and saved the customer. That was cool.”
Meh. Yuck. Vomit. Insert gagging noises here. Blah blah blah. Umm, no thank you!
Frankly, I want more out of life than that, don’t you? I don’t want people to remember me so much for my accomplishments, but for my character traits. When my wife, children, and friends remember me at my funeral, I want them to think fondly of me with words like,
- “He was such a loving husband. I always felt like I was #1 on his schedule. He wasn’t perfect, but he always made me feel special.”
- “My dad was the best dad…ever! We played, and wrestled, went on walks together, and I always felt like I could talk to him about anything.”
- As one of Charles’ co-workers, I will always remember his godly attitude, even when things didn’t go well. He refused to lie, cheat, or steal. He lived out his faith and he wasn’t fake.”
That’s what you and I want in life. We want to be remembered more for how we lived, not so much by what we accomplished when we lived.
Character Traits Defined
Recently, I wrote down a list of life goals that I want to be defined by. There are ten major traits that I came up with which—at the end of my life—these would accurately define the sort of man I was. As you’ll see, most of these have to do with foundational character and not so much by what contemporary society says we should be.
Putting them on paper made them more real for me. It moved these from the realm of obscurity to definable goals I want to achieve in life. I think every leader should have goals, but I believe that the most important goals are the ones which are more along the lines of character traits.
- HONEST. (I want my yes to be yes and my no, no. It’s wrong to lie, cheat, steal, or fudge the truth.)
- DEPENDABLE. (I want to be marked as a leader who could be counted on and comes through.)
- GODLY. (As a Christian, I want people to see more of the Jesus who lives in me, rather than merely me.)
- OTHERS-ORIENTED. (I want to be remembered as a guy who helped and served. “How can I help you?” was his motto.)
- LOVING. (It’s important to care about people. Love is a verb. It creates action!)
- HARD-WORKING. (I need to do more of this. I want laziness and sloth to be my enemies, not by comrades.)
- TRANSPARENT. (I don’t want to be known as a leader with double-motives. What you see is what you get.)
- GENUINE. (As opposed to counterfeit, fake, a charlatan, or a guy with a charade lifestyle.)
- COMPASSIONATE. (I want to be someone who cares. I want to be sympathetic and empathetic.)
- SUCCESSFUL. (Success based on God’s definition, rather than the world’s. I don’t want to be thought of as a failure.)
Question: What is the #1 character trait you want to be remembered for…and why? Click here to leave a comment below.
* Image credit: lincolnblues (Creative Commons)