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What do you want on your Tombstone?

Barry Landis - President, The Landis Agency - "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Proverbs 22:1

I was on a road trip to Atlanta recently when I noticed the writing on the back of a semi ahead of me that read, “What do you want on your Tombstone?”

Everyone else in the car understood it to be an advertisement for a pizza company, but I began thinking of it as a question that should cross the mind of every serious disciple of Christ. How do we want to be remembered when our work on earth is done?

I’ve spent my career in the entertainment world, specifically in the music business, which, I have come to believe, is driven mostly by fear and ego. In that type of world, I want to be remembered as someone with character. I want my “yea to be yea” and my “nay to be nay” (see Matt. 5:37). I want to deal honestly with people, telling them the truth about our potential business together or why it’s not going to happen. I want to deal with employees in a straightforward manner.

Character counts. In 1994, our company, Warner Alliance, had to take a stand on an issue with a gospel singer who had an affair with one of his background singers. We received both criticism and support for our decision to terminate the contract of the singer.

The local newspaper seemed amazed that a for-profit organization would have the resolve to take a moral stand, but my favorite response came from my former pastor, Millard Reed, who said, “It is probably true that while the world continues to need preachments on issues such as this, it desperately needs examples.”

Character has been defined as “moral or ethical strength.” Right now in America, we desperately need examples of this type of character. All too often, we hear about another corporate scandal, another doping scandal in sports, another case of plagiarism by a journalist or student—even instances of ministers stealing sermons off of the Internet. “Everybody does it” should not be an excuse for the Christian.

God is constantly building our character. We don’t get to choose our parents, but we do get to choose our character. We make decisions every day that shape our character, determine our future course in life and, ultimately, establish what will be said about us when we are gone.
When Joseph was placed in bondage to the Egyptians, he was tested many times, yet he rose to the rank of the second most important person in all the country. His true character even allowed him to help the very brothers who had sold him into slavery.

In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, the main character, Jean Valjean, thinks he has stolen silver from the bishop’s home. However, when the police catch him and bring Valjean back to the scene of the crime, the bishop tells the police that he had given Valjean the silver. After the police leave, the bishop tells Valjean, “Now, you have been bought with a price. Use this money to become an honest man.”

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

As Christians, we have been bought with a price. Since this is the case, how much more should we, who are called by His name, desire to use our bodies and minds in ways that demonstrate moral and ethical strength?

Point to Ponder
Give so much time and energy to your own improvement that you have no time to criticize others.

Questions to Consider

1. What does the phrase “moral and ethical strength” mean in your life? How does this phrase make you think about your choices?

2. How can you make yourself an example of moral and ethical business in your everyday dealings with colleagues and other business people?

3. So . . . what do you want on your tombstone?


From Devotional Ventures, © 2007 by Corey CleekPublished by Regal Books. Used by permission. Allrights reserved.

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posted by Justin Forman | 7.29.2009 - 7:13 AM

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