From time to time, my dad brings up the subject of his funeral. He is in his upper 70s and in pretty good health, but he wants to make sure everything is planned beforehand. Strangely enough, the conversation really doesn’t upset me. I consider it a privilege to help him plan for that service. As a longtime music pastor, it’s a process I’ve gone through many times with families of churches I’ve served.
During the most recent of these conversations, Dad was trying to decide whether he wanted me to sing at the funeral, preach at the funeral, or both. In addition to making sure I knew to sing “his kind of music,” he seemed very concerned that it would be a hardship for me to travel to his funeral (he lives in Texas, and I live in Tennessee). I assured him with a chuckle that I was sure I’d find a way to make it. After all, he’s my dad, and I love him!
That’s when he surprised me. Dad said, “Now I don’t want anybody saying a lot of nice things about me, trying to make me look like I was some great person, because I’m not.” I was taken back a bit, and asked him to explain. He said that he didn’t mind a few funny stories or memories; he just doesn’t want someone to make up something just to make him look good.
Isn’t that the opposite of what most of us want? Don’t we somehow wish that when that time comes, the church will be overflowing with all the great people who knew our accomplishments? Don’t we wish that there won’t be time during the service for all of the dignitaries who want to expound on our great influence? Or would we truly just want to have family and friends gathered around whom we knew and loved, and who knew our hearts?
You may have read the recent story about Doug Legler. Doug told his daughter that he really didn’t want a big deal made of him once he died. Well, when Doug passed away a few months back, to honor her father’s wishes, his daughter had these two words put underneath his picture in the obituaries — “Doug died.” Strangely enough, the story went viral, and Doug became well-known because of those two words.
Most of us want to be remembered, to feel as if our lives meant something to someone, to have a sense of legacy. The question becomes, what kind of legacy are we leaving? What things in our lives will leave a lasting impression? Most importantly, did people see Jesus in what we said and did?
If someone were to condense your life story into just a few words, what would be the defining phrase?
“Had a well-known public ministry, but refused to forgive a close family member”
“Never saw the need to repent of a secret sin”
“Valued spotlight over ministry”
“Embraced the things of this world”
It should break our hearts to even think that these things could be true of us! My prayer is that the phrases that define us would be more like:
“Life of forgiveness”
“Ministered with a pure heart”
“Eyes fixed on Christ”
“Embraced the broken”
I pray that our lives will be memorable, not because of who we are or the things we accomplish, but because of how Jesus is seen in us. It is He who saves us and allows us the wonderful privilege to take part in His eternal story of redemption.
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” —Col. 3:16-17
About the Author: Marvin Copaus is Sales Manager at Brentwood Benson. He has been with the company almost 20 years and in music ministry 40 years. Marvin and his wife Rita live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with their two sons, along with several dogs and cats. Marvin currently serves churches’ music ministries across Middle Tennessee.