The “Obituary Test” Challenge
I recently had a conversation with a young father who has been trying to juggle his various responsibilities with work, family, and school. When I asked him how things were going on the home front, he looked down and said, “Not that great.” But then he lifted his head and smiled when he said, “But I’m really good at video games!”
Now, if that story were true (which it’s not), you would probably respond by saying, “That’s ridiculous! What good is it to be successful at video games but fail in your marriage?”
But we do this all the time. We succeed in some parts of our lives while we fail miserably in those areas that truly matter. A mechanic who can make a car purr but can’t build a healthy relationship with his son. An architect who can develop intricate plans for a new building but has no plan for building a healthy marriage. A pastor who can preach powerful messages but who hides from his own family at home.
Peter Drucker used to say that the worst kind of failure in business is to succeed in the things that don’t matter. Maybe the worst kind of failure in life is winning in the wrong things and losing where it really counts.
Only two things matter on the eternal scale: our relationship with Jesus Christ and our relationship with others. On the day of your death it won’t matter how much money you have in the bank, how many college degrees hang on your wall, how many seasons of Gilmore Girls you’ve made it through, or what level you’re on in Minecraft.
And, yet, where do you spend most of your time—building relationships, or building a fortress in a video game? Where do I spend most of my time—growing with Christ and others, or growing my own kingdom?
In Luke 12, Jesus tells a story about a rich man who measured success by the size of his estate and the production of his business. By those standards he was a rock star planning to retire and live a life of ease (Luke 12:19). But by the standard that truly mattered, he failed miserably, for he died a premature death with no thought toward eternity. Jesus concluded his story by saying, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
I challenge you to take the “obituary test” after you finish reading this. If you were to die today, what would people write in your obituary? And if it doesn’t include the two most important matters on the eternal scale—your relationship with Jesus and your relationships with others—then give thanks to God that you still have time to change. And then go and . . . change.