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Echoes in Eternity

April 16, 2019

Two weeks ago, at 9:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night, my phone rang.

I answered it and got the news that Miss Annie had passed away.

When I was five years old, I was in a Sunday School class taught by two women named Annie Ledford and Pearl Hutson. Of course at the time, I didn’t know their last names. They were Miss Annie and Miss Pearl to me. In my five-year-old mind, they felt at least 100 years old way back then. I had a number of incredible teachers, both in school and church, throughout my childhood. And these two ladies really stand out in my memory.

Part of the reason might be that they taught a class of boys and girls. But really of the eight kids in the class, seven were boys, and at least six of us had undiagnosed ADD. These teachers gave their time and energy (and probably some sanity) to teach our challenging class and invest in each of us week after week. They marked my life, so much so that 30 years later, I still remember them. A couple years ago, Miss Pearl passed away, and I found a Bible that both she and Miss Annie had given me. I still have it today, and it reminds me of the enormous impact they had on my life.

Miss Annie and Miss Pearl shaped my life, and now, it’s my turn to shape the lives of others. Over the next few months, the team I lead at ADDO will launch programs in over a thousand schools that will touch the lives of students across the country. I will stand before more than a dozen businesses and speak to leaders who represent tens of thousands of employees. And I will come home every night to the joy of investing in my family—my wife Laura and our son George.

It’s an honor to get to be a part of things that have the potential to touch so many lives. However, I can’t help but think that because of Miss Annie and Miss Pearl’s investment in my life 30 years ago, they get to be a part of this impact too. Their time on earth has ended, but the seeds they sowed and watered have not been fully harvested yet. What they did during their time is still reaping a harvest that is outliving them.

It makes me ask this question: What am I doing today that will outlive my life?

It probably is not the text messages I’m responding to, the bills that I’m paying, or the things that I spend the most time agonizing over. I have to do those things, but they aren’t the most important part of what I will do.

At the beginning of the movie Gladiator, Maximus leads his men into battle with this charge: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

It’s not that your business doesn’t matter, but time with your kids matters more.

It’s not that your bottom line doesn’t matter, but investing in the lives of your team matters more.

It’s not that exercising your body doesn’t matter, but feeding your soul matters more.

It’s not that your to-do list isn’t filled with important tasks, but making the time to sit with a friend really does matter more.

Things that Miss Annie and Miss Pearl did 30 years ago echo now in eternity, and in the same way, we are doing things today that will echo in eternity.

Will our actions today make the kind of impact that will outlive us? I sure hope so.

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