Prioritize Everything Based On Who Will Cry At Your Funeral

Our children were young—one a preschooler and one elementary age. The business had finally started to do reasonably well.

People who before wouldn’t give me the time of day suddenly acted friendly. When I was just getting started, I tried to introduce myself to a bank president at a Chamber function. But first he glanced around the room to spy out someone of stature. Only after he could see that no one important was available did he speak with me. I don’t think he thought I could tell what he was up to. Then after I started to have some success, that same bank president acted like we were long-lost buddies.

The mail started to bring invitations to join organizations and attend functions—community benefits, societies, dinner parties, service organizations. Money was always involved. I couldn’t believe the pressure we felt to join up. How do we pick? On what basis do we prioritize our yeses and nos? For a long time I said yes to just about everything. Then the reality of what we were becoming started to dawn on us.

We were about to buy into a network of shallow relationships built on the sole foundation of commercial gain. Time with our kids, who needed us most and whom we love most, was about to get buried under an avalanche of avarice. And the ones who were going to get our time obviously only wanted a relationship as long as we were successful.

Patsy, the proverbial woman of intuition, was first to see what was happening, but I was blind as a bat, telling her, “We’ve arrived!”

“Yes,” Patsy added, “but at the wrong place.”

One evening as we reviewed our calendar and a stack of time-consuming opportunities, the thought came, Why not prioritize everything we do on the basis of who’s going to be crying at our funeral? We did it. The results saved our family.

This simple question—Who’s going to be crying at my funeral?—cuts out time wasters with the accuracy of a laser. Why should you and I give ourselves to people who don’t love us, at the expense of those who do? Prioritizing this way keeps us focused on our biblical priorities.

Until every church disciples every man...


(Adapted from the 25th Anniv. Ed. of The Man in the Mirror)