the good way

Eulogy vs Resume

Session 4 • Simplicity & generosity • Activation

David Brooks is a NY columnist who has written a book called The Road to Character. He writes that it occurred to him that there was incongruence between the kind of person he wanted to be, and the daily choices he was actually making. He described this in terms of resume virtues and eulogy virtues.

Resume Virtues and Eulogy Virtues

Resume virtues are the skills we bring to the marketplace. Eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at our funerals — whether we were kind, loving, funny, brave, honest or faithful.

I doubt that any of us would say that resume virtues are more important than eulogy virtues, and yet so much of our education system and culture points to the need to prioritize the former. As a result, many of us go through our lives having developed skills to make us externally successful, without having developed our inner lives. Many of us spend considerable time crafting our resumes, without giving much thought to what will be said of us after we are gone.

Creative Exercise: Write your own Eulogy

Writing your own eulogy is a creative exercise you can engage with privately to help you uncover your ‘why.’ It is an invitation to define, very succinctly, what, or who, is most important in your life.

Try to write your eulogy in five sentences or less. You might find it helpful to reflect on the following prompts. It may also be helpful to reflect on this alongside the imaginative exercise we did at the beginning of this course: My 80 year old self.

  • What do I want to be true of me at the end of my life?
  • What do I hope those who love me say about me?
  • What are the qualities or traits I hope would be named?
  • What are the highest priorities in my life?
  • What clearly occupies the center of my life?
  • What do I value?
  • How do I spend my time?
  • What is the felt experience of ‘me’?
  • What is the legacy that I leave behind?

Reflect and Pray

Now, ask yourself, is the life I’m living right now reflective of who I hope to be? What are the hurdles? How can I move my ‘why’ to the center? What choices will I make now in my everyday life, in order to become the person I hope to become, by God’s grace?

Bring all of this into honest conversation with Jesus and invite him to speak to you and guide you.

You may want to use this simple prayer:

Jesus, you have told me to seek first the Kingdom of God. You invite me to love you with all of my heart and to love my neighbor as myself. In doing this, I will discover abundant life. Jesus, I long to be someone who is ____________________________. The most important things in my life are ____________________________. Help me to order my life around what I most value. Holy Spirit, I give you permission to prompt me throughout my day and draw my awareness to any times when I am not living according to those values and priorities. I want to become more like you, Jesus. Give me grace to become my true self in you. Amen.

View other resources for this session