Spring 2020/ Matthew McDill
“What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?”
This is the question I was asking myself at the beginning of 2019. I was not asking it because I had a life-threatening illness or had lost someone close to me. I was asking this because I was reading a book about how to create a vision statement.* I would like to suggest to you that asking this simple question is a quick and powerful way to develop a vision for your life. As homeschool parents, this vision will include our relationships with our children and our hopes for educating and preparing them for life.
I was carefully following each step of the process in the book. In order to create a vision statement, the authors advised me to imagine my own funeral. Who will be there? What will they say? Imagining my funeral was to be done in two steps. First, imagine what people would say about me if my funeral were today. Next, imagine what I would like people to say at my funeral, assuming I had lived the life to which I aspire.
Now let me stop and tell you what I thought when I first encountered this idea: “That’s silly; I’m not doing that.” As if reading my mind, the author countered, “Don’t miss this step… Be open and vulnerable with yourself. You want to capture your true values.” So I did it. To my surprise, I found myself in tears completing this silly exercise. I was really torn up as I faced the realities of my life and my relationship with those I love the most.
Steve Jobs summed up well why taking hold of this perspective is so powerful when he said, “All external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” Trying to see the computer screen through my tears, I wrote what I hope people will say about me at my funeral. I thought about each of the most important people in my life. The most moving part was when I thought about what I wanted my children to say.
The authors then explained that the way you create a vision statement is to take what you want people to say about you and write it in the present tense, as if it were true today. After thinking through what I want my children to say about me, I put it into the present tense to form this vision for my relationship with my children:
I show my children what it means to follow Jesus by living it in front of them and teaching them from God’s Word every day. I give them biblical wisdom for life. I love them and enjoy life with them, spending time and having fun with them. I am one of their closest friends. They can tell me anything, and I listen carefully and compassionately.
I wrote a vision statement like this for all the important relationships and responsibilities in my life. I reviewed this vision document every day for months. I still review it every week and it always provides me with clarity and motivation. Most importantly, I can report that in 2019 I made huge strides toward having this kind of relationship with my children.
I want to encourage you to go through this same process. You will want to include your family relationships and home education. Once again, here are the instructions.
- Write down who would be at your funeral and what they would say if it happened today.
- Write down who would be at your funeral and what they would say if it happened at the end of your life assuming you had become the person you hope to be.
- Take what you wrote for number two and write it in the present tense.
- Review it every day for a while. Then review it every week.
You may be tempted to respond the way that I did: “This is silly. I don’t really need to do that.” Or maybe you immediately realize that you do not want to think about your funeral. “It would be too depressing. I don’t want to take such a deep look at life.” Or maybe you think this a good idea, but you will probably forget if you plan to do it later. Whatever your response might be, please consider setting some time aside on your calendar in the next couple of days to think through this. I believe it will help you to develop a transformational vision for your life.
* Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy
Matthew McDill and his wife, Dana, homeschool their nine children in Creston. Matthew is the executive director for North Carolinians for Home Education and continues to serve as president of the board. Through his ministry, Truth to Freedom (truthtofreedom.org), he teaches and writes about discipleship, marriage, family, parenting, home education, and church. Matthew holds a bachelor’s degree in communication along with two master’s degrees and a doctorate in biblical studies.