What Will Matter

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life
consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses. And he spoke a
parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room to
store my crops? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build
greater; and there will I store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul,
Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and
be merry. But God said unto him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required of
you: then whose shall those things be, which you have prepared? So is he that lays
up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:15-21)

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else. Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear. So too your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end. It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built. Not what you got, but what you gave. What will matter is not your success, but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example. What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.

©2008 Josephson Institute. Michael Josephson's "What Will Matter" is used with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the nonprofit, nonsectarian Josephson Institute and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.charactercounts.org