The Best Chapter Written on the Final Chapter We Write

I just finished reading Byron Yawn's helpful and convicting book, What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him. His chapter on ambition was great. But the chapter on integrity was even better. Challenging us particularly in the context of how we will be remembered after we're gone, Byron very accurately describes the deceptive gap between what is often said about a person at the end of their life, and what is actually true about that person throughout their life. His point? The increase of our integrity will be directly in proportion to the decrease of that gap.

More lies are told at funerals than at any other occasion. They are forced out as the silent deceptions of a man's character are finally dealt with at his memorial service. People spend lifetimes covering or ignoring the truth of who they are. Friends and family, who spent their lives playing along with the deception while they were alive, stick to the beloved's script in the end.... It's a bizarre type of courtesy paid to the bereaved. But it's a disservice to reality. We should speak up sooner.
There's nothing so powerful as a life that speaks for itself. A life that is its own benediction. A life that is a translation of integrity.
We carry the final chapter of our lives around with us every day we live.
It's our next decision.
We're the mosaic of every decision we've ever made.
When we die we push print.
You wrote your life's story moment by moment. Not preachers and loved ones. It's not the honorable mentions of accomplishments, or financial worth, or possessions. People will accomplish greater things than you. If you were fortunate to have any, people who "loved" you will fight over the money you leave behind. Your possessions will fit into boxes of all shapes and sizes. The real conclusion is about integrity. What kind of man you were. The last thing written about your life will be the correspondence between who people though you were and who you actually were. What your family actually inherits is the truth. (emphasis original)

Byron then describes cleaning out his father's medical office months after his sudden death. The last area to pack up was a locked cabinet. When he finally unlocked the cabinet, he found... nothing. At least nothing unsuspected - just some medical journals. No locked-up surprises. No hidden secrets. His dad was exactly who he knew him to be; a man of integrity. The author then closes the chapter with these words:

You're going to die. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tragically. Maybe forty years from now. Your family, in one way or another, will be faced with the task of digging around in the remains of who you were. As you are dead, there will be nothing you can do to stop them. Those defenses that kept back the truth about you while you were alive will be powerless in death. Your children will face the truth about you. They may come to discover things they never knew about you. They will face a locked cabinet of one sort or another. What will they find there?
This is sobering. This makes me think about those daily decisions. It makes me wonder if I'm ready to hit the print button. But if I'm not careful, I'll stop there, when there's even something more to consider: my eulogy cannot be my motive. There is Another who already knows my beginning and my end and everything in between must be pleasing to Him, not merely impressive to my mourners.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:9-14, ESV, Emphasis added)

No comments: