Don’t Wait for a Funeral to Give a Eulogy

I am mostly offline, attending a business conference. I have asked several bloggers to post in my absence. This is a guest post by Michael Smith, a blogger and associate pastor in Franklin, TN. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

We typically wait until the end of a person's life to give a eulogy, to say nice things about someone. But why wait? Why not start now—when the words can have the most impact?

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Kameleon007

Earlier this year, my family celebrated my father's eightieth birthday. It was a fun celebration with friends and family.

By no means was this a small gathering. Over a hundred people attended the party. I teased him that I was glad my mom didn't send a Facebook invitation to all his friends, because he now has close to fifteen hundred.

As part of the program, some of my dad's friends and family members were asked to stand and say a few words. Some spoke of his competitive spirit on the golf course, others of his passion for helping students succeed.

Even others talked about my father's heart for God and teaching the Bible. His grandchildren shared some of the memories he helped them make. And my sister and I spoke of his love and witness, his willingness to follow God no matter where he was called.

A few hours after the party, we were all sitting in my parent’s home, remembering the events of the day. My dad began to thank us for the party. He said he felt honored that all those people came and said so many good things about him. He said, “I feel like I got to witness my own funeral.”

It is usually at a person's funeral where all the nice things are said. The only problem, my dad noted, is that the person doesn't get to hear it.

A few days later, an article appeared in our local paper, saying that “it is only when people retire or move on to another job” that we throw a party for them in the work place. Only then do we say all the nice things and celebrate who they are and what they've accomplished.

But why do we wait until our bosses, co-workers, and team members move on to say nice things about them? Shame on us. We should start eulogizing those who mean the most to us before they leave us.

I don't want to one day hear myself saying about my team, “I wish I had told them how great they were.” I want them to know how much they matter to me now:

  • I want to celebrate my team. They deserve it.
  • I want to tell my boss what a great job he is doing. He needs the encouragement.
  • I want to recognize success across my organization. It builds morale.

Speak up. Celebrate the people around you. It is the right thing for a leader to do. It is the right thing for anyone to do. Dad, I love you and am so thankful for the Christ-like example you displayed for me.

Question: Who is someone you need to eulogize today? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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