There are any number of compliments I would like said at my funeral, “He was faithful, humble, godly, kind, thoughtful, compassionate, generous… and the list could easily continue.”
But there is one compliment, maybe more than any of the others, I hope will be said of me:
He was the same person at home as he was in public.
In some regards, I can think of no higher praise to offer a person. It encompasses many of the adjectives above, but adds an added element: That was his true self—both in public when people were watching, and at home when no one was watching.
My grandfather passed away last December at the age of 99. He was a pastor to many his entire life. At his funeral, my mom offered these words, “I want you to know that my father was the same man at home as he was in public.”
It was her desire for everyone to know something they could never know. My grandfather was the same loving man when he got home in the evening as he was in front of the church on Sunday. He didn’t just pretend to be faithful, kind, and compassionate, that is who he was.
And I can think of no greater, more encompassing praise.
That compliment presupposes that you lived a life worthy of compliment.
That compliment communicates that you represented yourself honestly in public.
And it communicates that you remained true to your character throughout your entire life—to the very end.
Oh, I suppose it’s possible to try and hide your faults from your spouse and children, but there is only so much you can hide and only for so long. The life you live in secret will eventually be made known. And usually, unfortunately, it is your family who will see it first.
We work so hard to keep up our public image. And it is certainly possible to portray a fake life in the public eye. But when you get home at the end of the day, and spend time with the people you are around the most, your true colors begin to come through. How many celebrities have been exposed for their true self by the way they conduct themselves at home?
To be the same person at home as you publicly portray to others is a consistency not everyone achieves.
Ironically, it is at home, with the people we love the most that we should be at our very best. But that is, unfortunately, not always the case.
So how do we achieve this compliment?
It seems to me there is only one way: You live an exemplary life in both public and private, and you continue it until the very end.
Maybe that’s the reason it is the compliment I most want said at my funeral. It can only be achieved by becoming the person I want to be.