No one read my dad’s resume at his funeral.
This is pretty normal. I haven’t been to a ton of funerals, thankfully, but I’ve been to enough to know that there’s no resume reading on the agenda. The pastor or family won’t stand up and read off past work history, GPA, and other accomplishments.
But it does seem a little contradictory. For most of our lives our resume seems to loom over our heads. In high school we’re encouraged to participate in as many extracurricular activities as we can possibly manage, all while aiming for a 34 on our ACT. These achievements will help us get into our college of choice, or at least our college of cost, which will then secure for us the best possible internship. Combine our internship with our sparkling GPA and our long list of positions held and it will certainly equal the perfect job. One perfect job will lead to another which will lead to a raise which will allow you to provide for another generation of resume-builders.
You’re born, you build your resume, you help your kids build their resume, you die. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? But again, no one read my dad’s resume at his funeral.
No one mentioned that he was the VP of Sales, Director of New Business, or won Coach of The Year. No one talked about him running a multi-million dollar business. No one blinked an eye at the State Championship Title he coached his team to win.
Turns out that life is about relationships instead of resumes.
There wasn’t a room full of grieving people because my dad had a strong resume or an impressive portfolio. Sure, he was successful. But more than that he was relational. And you know what, I’m going to take a minute to brag, because there were more than 600 people at his funeral. 600. I don’t even have 600 Facebook friends! And ever since I looked around the room at people who were so profoundly impacted in such a short amount of time I’ve been wondering what it takes to get 600 people to attend my funeral.
It’s not about what you do, it’s about who you do it with and who you’re becoming.
We spend so much of our lives focusing on the what, the when, and the where. We want to know what we’re going to be when we grow up. We pad our resume with things we’ve accomplished and goals we’ve achieved. Those are all great. In fact, we need people to set lofty goals and work towards them. The world would be a terrible place if there weren’t driven people working towards change and resolution.
But if we spend a life chasing after “what” then we’re going to miss out on the “who.” It turns out that the people we surround ourselves with are infinitely more important than the positions we hold when it comes to creating a life that’s genuinely worth living. Who we become and who we’re around are the only things we get to take with us.
Wouldn’t it be a shame for our kids to stand up at our funeral and have to read our resumes because our accomplishments are all they seem to know about us? How cold and distant would that be? What if, at our funerals they simply said things like, “my mom was really productive and efficient and we were always on time for soccer games” or “my dad wasn’t around much but I did get that new Xbox game so it all makes sense now.”
I’m really lucky because I knew my dad. Really lucky in the sense that I know a lot of people don’t know their dads because they’re either physically or emotionally absent. I don’t ever want to take that for granted. But the last thing on my mind at his funeral were his achievements.
Instead, I talked about how we had our own secret language, just the two of us. I talked about the Gospel and about a relationship with Jesus. I got to stand up and tell a room full of family that we would all get to be family again.
My brother talked about how my dad never taught him to change a tire, or throw the perfect spiral, or how to plan the best date even though that’s what supposedly “makes you a man.” But my brother got to talk about how my dad demonstrated true manhood to him: character, integrity, and loving others to the point that it hurts.
You are a who, not a what.
You’re a human being, not a human doing. You are more than your GPA, your LSAT, or your ACT scores. You’re more than your job title or your salary. You’re more than the car you drive and the clothes you wear. You’re bigger than the PTA position at the school or the promotion at work. There’s more to you than productivity, responsibility, and efficiency.
Your only job is to focus on the who. On who you want to become and who you want to become that person with. The people around you are counting on you to care about who you become. The people around you are influencing who you become, so choose wisely. And thankfully you’re influencing them.
No one is going to rant and rave about what you did. They’re going to celebrate who you were and who you still are as a result of the impact you made in their lives. They’re going to cherish your words and your time.
Who are you becoming? Who is helping you turn into who you would like to be? Who are you investing in? Who is investing in you? Who will you be if you decide to move here, or do this, or start that?
Because as singer songwriter Roo Panes puts it, “I’m starting to realize the question worth asking is who? I’m starting to realize the question worth answering is you.”