Life Lessons from a Friend’s Funeral
One of the neat things about life is the fact that most of the important information we need to know in order to live a good, meaningful and fulfilling life, we already know. There is no secret. No magic formula. In other words, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Our problem is that we are imperfect, fallible, selfish humans who do not always have the discipline or desire to do these things on a daily basis. We already KNOW what to do and HOW to live, but for various reasons we often make the wrong choices in life.
Friday, March 30, 2012 marked the funeral of Dewayne Lemler, a man I had always admired and respected as a principal, coach, community leader, and most importantly, a Christian example to follow. Here was a man who not only knew how to live, but he actually did it—daily. His legacy was on full display this bittersweet day, and it is that legacy which will live on forever, continuing to touch and impact lives for eternity.
As I sat in the pew at First Baptist Church of Avon Park, I was flooded with memories and emotions. On this day those memories were vivid and comforting, but the emotions, for me, were raw. I was not prepared for this, although I knew it was coming for a couple of months. The finality and reality of the situation was setting in though, and inside I was not handling it well. Here was a man who was simply taken too soon, and in my feeble human mind, the only I could think was “it’s not fair.” I will probably always think that, but I have to remind myself that God’s plan is different than man’s plan, and his timing His perfect. He knows what He’s doing. That is why we must rely on Him daily, as Dewayne did. He knew God had a plan for his life, and while the way it ended is probably not how Dewayne had envisioned it, I’m sure he accepted it because of his unwavering faith in the omniscience of the Lord.
So, what does all of this mean? Well, participating in this service REMINDED me (remember–these are things we already know…we just have to do them) of some key life lessons that Dewayne lived out as an example for all of us to follow. His legacy lives on because he lived a life worthy of God’s call, and he lived it in a way that was selfless. He was truly a servant leader—someone who put the needs of others before his own.
Serve God: If God is not first in your life, then what purpose does your life serve? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t serve any purpose at all. There is no eternal purpose to your life unless you put God first. Take care of this one, and the others will fall into place.
Serve Family: You must love, cherish, protect, provide for, and spend time with your family. Demonstrate your love for them with actions, not just words. Your family should never have to question how much you love and care for them.
Serve Others: Show care and concern for the people you work with by taking the time to be available for them, to listen to them, and help them. Also, show common decency and respect to strangers that may cross your path—you never know how your actions or words might impact someone.
Prepare for Life: Are you doing what is required in order to lead a fulfilling and successful life? It takes time to prepare and plan for life, and you need to realize that time is not on your side. Start preparing now. Jesus spent the first 30 years of his life preparing for the last three.
Prepare for Death: Just as it takes time to prepare for life, it takes time to prepare for death. Do you have all of your affairs in order? Do you want to leave a lasting legacy? Have you communicated important matters to those that you love? Do you need to reconcile with someone? What about your eternal fate…have you thought about where you will end up when you die? These questions are too important to leave to chance. Get your things in order soon so that you can live a fulfilling and worry-free life now.
Prepare your Successors: Are you preparing someone who will follow in your footsteps? Who will carry on your life’s work to the next generation? Don’t let all that you believe in and stand for die with you. Pass it on by preparing your successors to continue impacting lives and making a difference in this world.
Some thoughts to consider…I hope they are of benefit to you.