What do you want others to say at your funeral?

Zach Conrad

Zach Conrad

Within the last few months, my wife and I have had five friends die. We have gone to one wedding. We have seen newborns grow. We have been through an emotional time of my mother-in-law’s brain surgery. I have been incredibly busy. So has my wife. It seems like life will never slow down. But funerals sure make one stop and look at what is really important in life.

My wife and I were in Florida over Christmas break for a conference. On checking in to the hotel, my supervisor was talking with me about life in general and then asked what I thought about the e-mail that was sent out before the conference. I had no idea what he was talking about. He informed me that one of the keynote speakers at the conference died of a heart attack a few days beforehand!

I doubt anyone reading this knows the individual, so I thought I would enlighten you about Alex Alexander. He was on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a campus based ministry and had a large influence in racial reconciliation within and outside of the organization. The night he was going to speak at this conference, people came up to tell of how Alex had influenced their life.

One by one, former students, fellow staff, and friends came up to share. Some told of how much Alex gave of himself for others. “He really cared for students, especially Black students,” was a common theme throughout the different stories. He had ministered to up to 15 campuses throughout the Georgia area, spending as much time as possible building or starting Black Student Fellowships.

He shared the message of Christ’s redemption and how the Gospel was meant to be liberating in nature, bringing all nations and genders together under the unity of Jesus Christ. This was no “white-man’s gospel” anymore.

There were others like Alex, but being an African-American male on staff with a very white organization had its challenges. He was up front with the staff and board discussing the need for racial reconciliation within the movement. However, Alex did this with much love. As a result, a few students impacted through Alex’s ministry came on board as InterVarsity staff. The face of staff started to be more realistic.

Alex was remembered as someone who made a difference.

Have you ever had the assignment of writing your obituary before? I walked out of that session at the conference looking at life in a whole new way. I started thinking about what I would want said at my time of death. What will I be known for?

The week before we went to Florida, we were at a funeral for one of Janna’s college friends. At her funeral, the theme was, “She was a really nice girl.” After witnessing Alex’s eulogy, I thought it was a total shame that was all she was known for.

Me? I want to be known as someone who helps others in their journey of finding reconciliation with God. I want people to know that God can do incredible things in their life if they only let Him. I want to die with the statement, “He loved God, his wife and family and truly wanted others to fully know God.”

I want God to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

E-mail comments to Zach at [email protected].