Have you written your eulogy yet?

By Bob Shank
August 28, 2023

Have you written your eulogy yet?


It has become a tradition for American presidents to write a personal note to their successor, and to leave that note on the Resolute Desk – in the Oval Office – for them to read as they move into their new digs. I wonder: what would it be like to write a personal note to my Savior, as a parting reflection as I transition from this life on Earth into Eternal Life in Heaven?  Hmm…

“Dear Jesus: what an incredible life you gave me! Born at the most amazing moment in history, into the most prosperous nation of all time. Blessed over a lifetime with God-given talents and gifts, an incredible wife and family, career opportunities that were obviously orchestrated by Providence, and more resources than I needed to sustain my comfortable life. You allowed me to live beyond my productive working years and to have options in my later life. So, I decided to get our estate plan together and plan for a generous portion of our second-to-die estate to be distributed to ministry, alongside what we planned for our family to receive. My internet searches for “legacy” seemed to suggest that was the best we could do to be responsible in our later years, so – with that planning done – we decided to freshen-up our Bucket List and start living the dream. We kept up on our tithing, and then took advantage of our renewed health and financial freedom to make the most of our Best Life, now. Hope that met your approval; I guess we’ll be finding out, soon!”

For most people who regard themselves as “followers of Jesus – aka Disciples – that might seem to be a slightly-generous script for their surrogate to read at their eulogy. Thinking through the leave-behind-letter is a very personal embrace of Stephen Covey’s counsel regarding the importance of terminal vision: “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

Allow me to confront a fallacy that has become widespread and unchallenged in our culture: legacy is the cumulative value of what will be transferred in your name, after your death. Most often measured in monetary terms, it presumes that generosity will most likely occur when you are no longer alive and able to personally benefit from that which is left over and left behind. Is that Legacy?

Allow me to summarize some thoughts, each of which warrants a book-length treatise to fully define the compelling importance of these factors in the formula you’ll use to set your future in motion.

Once your salvation is secured by God’s grace, through your faith and surrender, all of your life from redemption to completion is to be lived for His glory, in service to His Kingdom.

The measure of success in life will never be calculated under Heaven; it will be declared with righteous finality at the Bema Seat judgement by the Lord Jesus.

Believers will be evaluated and elevated in Eternity based on what they did in this lifetime, not based on what they directed others to do on their behalf, posthumously. No eternal rewards will be bestowed for estate gifts that required no sacrifice during one’s lifetime.

Commonly accepted assumptions are most frequently at odds with God’s revealed will for us: accumulating wealth and freedom with the primary goal of enjoying life while avoiding meaningful, sacrificial Kingdom service is satisfying in the short term but deficient in the long term.

Legacy is the act of devoting time, wisdom, relational connections and financial resources to causes that are led by and impacting future generations during one’s later lifetime. The end of life is the end of Legacy.

Legacy is the final act of a life well lived. Cheri and I are intent on legacy; at this point, nothing else matters. Let that wash over you: where do you stand?  Leave a comment below…

About The Author

3 thoughts on “Have you written your eulogy yet?”

  1. gretchen horton

    Challenging! At 90, in good health and abundantly provided for, I needed to hear these words. It is never too late to think these things through. My estate plan seems to be in good order from an earthly perspective. It flashes through my mind now and then that I shold make arrangements to give to God’s work after I am ‘beamed up’, but I have taken no action. Can I leave here, after years of writing and teaching from God’s word, with no legacy to the advance of the gospel?

  2. Thank you Bob,
    At 78 years old and 40 years of following Jesus as Lord and Savior, I am a more than blessed man with mentors like you and others.
    My wife and I have contributed more than half our income to the Lord’s ministries for over 40 years.
    The last 5 years we spend our time with the 20 to 40 year olds to share our life experiences with those that don’t have wisdom yet because of their age.
    Hospitality is a focus for us. We invite young couples/families over to our home for a good meal after church most Sundays. About 20 new families/year.
    We are currently developing a new web based ministry to help younger families: The Mentoring Project. To encourage cross generational mentoring.
    Encourage the older generation to engage and share their life experiences with younger generations.
    Also to encourage younger generations to ask the older generations to share their life experiences so they can make better spiritual decisions in life.
    We believe in sharing and distributing our wealth while on earth; doesn’t seem very enjoyable to have wealth distributed after our death.

  3. Sobering to think about but true – The end of life is the end of legacy. Clara and I are making that our focus as well.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top