Take a minute to think about your funeral.  Morbid, I know.  But close your eyes and imagine what it would be like.  Who will be there?   What will they say?  If you passed away tonight, how would you be remembered?  Would people be sad?  Would people be indifferent?  Who would be there saying you made an impact on them?  Have you made a difference in this world?

Unsettling, isn’t it?  Sobering?  Because we all think we are going to live forever.  But there is bad news:  The death rate is holding steady at 1 per person.  You will die.  It’s just a matter of when…and how.  Dead people can’t enjoy their stuff.  Or their money.  Naked you come, naked you go.  So that means we are temporary stewards of everything in our life.  This is bad news in one sense but good news in another.  It is freeing.  No possessions last forever, nor are they meant to.  So if we figure out what matters we can have a life well-lived.

Stephen Covey says that we should begin with the end result in mind.  He lists this principle as one of the 7 habits of highly successful people.  Have you ever applied this to life in general?  Most people vaguely want to have a very meaningful life.  Most people have no idea what they are after.  And if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.  Who do you want to be?  A meaningful life and a life well-lived do not “just happen.”  You don’t get to have significance by binge watching Netflix every night.  (from time to time is OK though)  No one ever drifts into greatness.  No one ever drifts into making a difference.  You need intentionality.  You have to do this on purpose.

Find out what’s important, and give yourself to it.

What is important to you?  If you don’t quite know yet, that’s OK.  Most of you reading this are in a discovery stage of life.  You are exploring, finding out what matters. This is a wild truth:  Lots of things will try and coax you away from investing yourself in the important things.  Some of them will even be “good” things.  Some of them will seem urgent but not really matter in the grand scheme of life.  You need to pick the “best” thing.

You may have experienced a sense of loss, sadness, or disappointment when you graduated college.  That transition is really difficult, maybe the most confusing and disorienting one in our whole life.  You always hear people talking about college as the “good old days”, the best four years of your life.  If this is true, we are all in big trouble.  That means the rest of your life is a slow, depressing, downward spiral.  You peaked when you were 21?  Baloney.  I can assure you that every season of life brings the opportunity for more satisfaction and fulfillment and joy.  Imagine if you get married and have children.  Those stages of life are not going to be better times than college?  College is an incredible time of life, and a special time, but the truth is your best years are yet to come. Will you begin with the end result in mind?  Will you visualize what and who you want to be?  Will you give your life to what’s important?

Pete Hardesty

Author Pete Hardesty

Pete Hardesty is the Director of Young Life College at James Madison University. He grew up in Baltimore, went to college at UVA, and has worked for Young life ever since, first in Virginia Beach and now in the Friendly City of Harrisonburg, VA. During that time, he crammed 3 years of grad school into 17 finally getting an M.Div from RTS in 2014.

Likes: His nieces, Ravens football, college people (even though they make him feel old), movies, cigars, Thai food, the Middle East.
Dislikes: Country music, tomatoes, shrimp, rice crispy treats, and wet socks.

Pete believes because we only get one shot at this life we need to figure out what matters and give ourselves to it. Let’s make it count. If you have a problem with this, he challenges you to meet him behind the dumpster after school to fight.

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