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The Dash

May 14, 2019

A few weeks ago, I went with an ADDO team member to one of our Chick-fil-A Leader Labs (a part of Chick-fil-A Leader Academy), and this meeting was the students’ last one of the school year. They spent their time sharing highlights from the program, and most of them told stories about specific activities that made them think about the kind of legacy they want to leave when they are gone.

In the program, we ask students to write a statement about what they would like to do while they are alive and challenge them to set goals to get there. We also have them participate in the Dash Project. When you die, there will be two dates on your gravestone—the day you were born and the day you die. And in between those dates, there’s a dash. Your life isn’t measured by these dates; it’s measured by your dash. That’s your time.

Here’s the truth: The things that we are talking to these students about might seem idealistic and fluffy, especially to those of us who are in the daily grind of our adult lives. It feels easy for a high schooler to dream about the future. But try being a thirty-something man, married with three kids. What does he want to do with his life? Pay the bills this month, keep his kids alive, and try to get six hours of sleep at night.

The day after listening to these students reflect on what they want to be said about them after they die, I officiated my first funeral for my great uncle. One of the things you have to do before speaking at a funeral is reach out to the family who knows the person best. I spoke to his kids, his grandkids, and his great-grandkids, and as I listened to stories and comments made about my great uncle, it made me come face to face with my own mortality.

If I were gone, what would people say about me?

You know those “fluffy” or “idealistic” questions we are asking those high schoolers? Those questions matter. The answers matter even more.

This week, I am challenging you to think about how the people closest to you would sum up your life. If you died today, what would they say about you?

Take some time to write down what you think they’d say. If those words aren’t what you want them to be, decide right now how you would change them and go live your life intentionally to make that possible.

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