Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Remembering a Life That Mattered (Part I)

Jim and Jean Umbehr and Family
December 26, 2004

“. . . it is appointed unto men once to die. . .” ~ Hebrews 9:27a (KJV)

Our Thanksgiving plans this year were not unlike the plans of hundreds of thousands of other people across the globe. We would fly to Texas to spend the holiday with Keen’s parents and siblings. We would laugh, exchange stories, and eat too much turkey and pumpkin pie. Then we would give each other hearty hugs that would last until we met again.

What we didn’t expect is that it would be the last time we would see Keen’s father here on earth.

As we prepare to travel to Texas once again, this time for a very different purpose, I would like to share a poem written by Michael Josephson titled, What Will Matter. Mr. Josephson was kind enough to grant me permission to share it with you.

When I return, I will write a more detailed tribute to my father-in-law, Jim Umbehr. In the meantime, please remember to tell your loved ones how much they matter to you.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” ~ Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

What Will Matter
By Michael Josephson

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 people will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories of 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 circumstances, but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

© 2006 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information, or to make a donation, please visit www.charactercounts.org