Live for Eulogy, not Resume

For about the last year, I’ve been receiving a weekly reflection from Holstee. Holstee was started a few years back by two brothers who wanted to build tools for inspiration and living fully.

This morning’s email from Dave was titled: “My eulogy.”

That’s pretty deep for a Monday morning, but after my morning workout, I read the email which brought me to this TED Talk from David Brooks of the New York Times:

In the talk, Brooks talks about the conflict between our “resumé self” and our “eulogy self.”

It’s a fascinating insight into the conflict between our desire for accomplishments that make us more attractive to employers — those things that advance our career — and our desire to be good humans so that our lives leave a legacy of goodness — so our eulogy is worthwhile.

In this time off, I’m kicking myself for not spending more time focusing on my eulogy but it’s difficult when you’re job searching. You’re focusing on those resumé accomplishments because they’re what matter to potential employers.

Dave bravely shared a journal entry in which he shared his own eulogy. I’m going to attempt a draft at mine.

Shane loved life fiercely. More than anything, he loved living it side-by-side with his wife and best friend, Alli. Together, they captured life’s moments for others as photographers, they traveled the world and experienced other cultures, they made each other and others laugh, and they prioritized spending time with the people they loved over all. 

During his life, Shane’s vocation rarely defined him, mostly because he wouldn’t let it. In his work, he made those around him better by expecting excellence and delivering it whenever he could. He was a communicator and a connector and he loved telling stories.

He liked eating food with friends and family, sometimes too much. He read books when he could, though not as much as he should. His dad passed along an obsession with gadgets and music. He always wanted to learn to play guitar like his dad, but struggled to find the diligence to do so.

More than anything, he loved Alli. They loved traveling, going to the movies and spending time with their dogs at home in front of the fireplace. They rarely spent more than a few days at a time apart and they never seemed to get sick of each other. Even to the end, when they Thelma & Louise’d it over the cliff at the age of 100. 

So that’s my first draft of my eulogy. What would yours say?

Avatar is awesome

As usual, the big guns come out in Hollywood around the holidays. Alli and I headed out with Jake and Kelly to see James “I’m the King of the World” Cameron’s 15-years-in-the-making, sci-fi-fantasy-action-spiritual-romance-drama genre-bending movie, Avatar.


I haven’t been this enamored by a movie in as long as I can remember. Several hours later and I can’t stop thinking about it, talking about it, and wanting to see it again.

At the risk of over-stating and over-promising, I’m still gonna say it: Avatar is one of the most innovative, original films to be made in the last 20 years.

James Cameron has spent the last 15 years writing and conceptualizing this EPIC film, a story that at its most basic is a love story wrapped in a war movie set in space. But that ignores the spiritual and philosophical dimension that makes this movie so unique.

We meet Corporal Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) first, on his trip to the planet Pandora, a world occupied by humanoid creatures called the Na’vi. There he meets a native woman named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who helps him to learn about the culture and their people’s beliefs and traditions.

Along the way, he’s faced with physical, emotional and moral challenges, not to mention a middle-of-the-night showdown with a pack of rabid doberman-like wild animals.

I don’t want to give away anymore of the plot. I want people to discover it for themselves. The only thing I will say is that the commercials and trailers don’t do this film any kind of justice. The movie is so much more than I ever expected.

When I first started seeing stills and clips from the movie, I had little to no interest in it. I love James Cameron and I think he’s an innovative filmmaker, but from what I could see, it didn’t seem to interest me. Giant smurfs controlled in a Matrix-like way on some crazy other planet? No thanks.

Then it became really hard to ignore. As the first reviews began to flow in, I began to think that my first judgement may have been incorrect. And the more I heard about it, the more my interest was piqued.


So we went today.

And like I said before, it was one of the best times I’ve had at the movies in my life. I was completely rapt for the full 2 hours and 40 minutes. I didn’t want to move, didn’t want to go to the bathroom, didn’t want to do anything but spend that time with the completely brilliant James Cameron and his perfect film. I leaned forward in my seat almost the whole time because I didn’t want anything else to distract me from what I knew 30 minutes in was the crowning achievement of this man’s illustrious career.

There I go again. People who know me know that I have a tendency to get over-excited and maybe overstate things a little. I promise, I’m not exaggerating on this movie. It really is that good.

This movie manages to make a statement without being preachy. It uses amazing CGI without being cheesy. It has an obvious romantic element without being sentimental. And it has action that is meaningful and exciting without sacrificing it for poor dialogue. When I consider that all of these things can mostly be attributed to Cameron, it’s hard to argue against him to win the Oscar for Best Director.

We will see. He’s certainly set the bar and he’s set it high.

Rob Bell’s Drops Like Stars

I Know How You Feel

Alli and I had the great opportunity to go see Rob Bell’s “Drops Like Stars” tour at the Uptown Theater tonight.

I’ve talked about Rob Bell on this blog before. Read my post from last week, Rob Bell vs. Joel Osteen, and my review of Velvet Elvis if you want a bit of a primer.

Bell’s “Drops Like Stars” tour is basically a two-hour multimedia sermon focusing mostly on the concept of suffering.

Suffering connects us in a way that health and wealth and money cannot.

His two-hour presentation covers four major issues:

  1. The Art of Disruption, or how we are very good at making plans on how our life is supposed to go, but never does.
  2. The Art of Honesty, or how pain has a knack for bringing out our truest selves.
  3. The Art of Elimination, or what can you let go of?
  4. The Art of Possession, which is not the same thing as ownership.

Rob Bell's Drops Like Stars

I loved every moment and every lesson and every story of his talk. Bell’s message is on point. His delivery is conversational. He’s funny. He understands people.

One of his true gifts is his ability to teach and present. He engages the audience in so many ways, not just through his content (although that is a wonderful start), he does so through his rhythm and timing, through his body language, through the tone of his voice. He is so amazingly talented, not just in his interpretation of scripture and spirituality, but also in engaging his audience in the challenge of his words.

Bell is phenomenal at what he does, whether it be teaching sermons at his home congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, or writing books like Velvet Elvis and Jesus Wants to Save Christians, or touring different cities and helping people to come to comprehend the purpose of suffering as he does on the Drops Like Stars tour or just inspiring regular folks like me.

If you’re the least bit interested in anything I’ve had to say about him, next time Bell is in Kansas City, I highly suggest going to check him out. You won’t be disappointed. And I will most certainly be there.

Thanks, Rob.

Give Your All aka “Crush It!”

This morning, I preached at my home congregation.

The theme was “Give Your All” and the focus scripture came from the 12th chapter of Mark — the story of the widow’s mite. And while I love that story, it was used enough in the service (including in my children’s focus moment right before my sermon). I wanted to bring something a little different.

So I talked a little about Gary Vaynerchuk‘s new book, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion. I met Gary at Big Omaha and we had a fun interchange during his Q&A. His passionate approach to business got me thinking about what a passionate approach to God might look like.

I guess that’s enough of an intro.

I will say this, however. For the five years that I’ve run this blog, I’ve never actually posted video of myself giving a sermon. I’ve posted partial contents before and I’ve given a bunch of sermons at different congregations, but never actual video. This is kind of a momentous. So please be nice.

You can view it at Vimeo, too.