John’s Blog- The Virtues that Really Matter
A number of people have died who were very significant to my development as a pastor and, I’d like to think, as a human being. At the risk of leaving someone out, I would highlight the deaths this year of Fred Craddock and Charlie Cousar and in recent years John Coffin and Shirley Guthrie.
I began thinking about them recently as I read a David Brooks column in the New York Times. Brooks posits that there are two sets of virtues: resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Resume virtues are those that enable you to find a job. Eulogy virtues are the ones the pastor is going to talk about at your funeral. The latter basically explore whether you were capable of deep love.
Each of the men I have mentioned had every reason to be puffed up with pride. All had amazing accomplishments, all wrote books, all in many quarters were household names, yet each of them had a deep sense of humility. They all had, as I said, achieved a great deal of success and yet they were not filled with competitiveness. They did not have to win all the time. They did not have to diminish others in order to lift themselves up. Each of them understood the importance of being connected with colleagues and friends. They had no illusions that their “success” was an individual effort. Each would freely give of himself to others and found time to be involved in mission. They all had a deep sense of call. You could see quite clearly that the work they did was much more than “just a job.” Each of them viewed every day not as an opportunity to prove they were better than others but, rather, as an opportunity to be a bit better than they were the day before.
I am deeply indebted to each of them for helping me develop my resume virtues. Now I pray that I can develop those“eulogy virtues. For those, I know, are why these men are unforgettable to me.