The Immortality of Influence

I attended a funeral a few years ago and it has never left me. While no one likes to go to a funeral, I do find them a time to stop and reflect on what is important. This one was particularly challenging.

It was for a man who lead a long, quiet life. He had a good job, nice home and a wonderful family. He was charming, smart and never craved attention. He appeared to be like so many other men that I have had the pleasure to know. However, there was more to him than I had imagined.

The minister took to the podium and started the comforting funeral rituals. He vouched for the man’s spiritual wellbeing. He then veered off the comforting clichés and started asking the tough questions. He knew the deceased very well. The minister asked about immortality. It does not get any deeper or profound than that subject. He talked about the spiritual aspects of immortality. Then he did something I had never heard before. He talked about the immortality of influence. This struck a chord.

You see, the deceased led a successful suburban life: a good job, retirement, nice home, even a vacation home. Most of that will be forgotten over time. However, his legacy will last a long time. Perhaps it will have immortal consequences. He was a scout master. He did it for decades. He poured countless hours, weekends, vacations into young boys to instill the timeless values of the scouts. It had been many, many years since he had camped or attended a meeting. However, those scouts grew up.

The minister asked those in attendance to stand if the deceased led them in scouting. I was shocked when 30 to 40 middle aged men stood as a testament to the deceased’s investment in them. The minister asked those standing to remain standing if they or their children were involved in scouting. Most remained standing. His influence had transferred from one generation and it was now spreading to the next. He poured his life into these men and they were pouring into the next generation. That is the immortality of influence.

That service got me thinking. What was I doing that would leave a legacy? What would the minister say at my service? More importantly what would I do today to ensure that the minister would have something to say?

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Kirk Hancock