“Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” Rom. 12:10
Recently a friend who is dying asked if I would deliver the eulogy at his funeral. Of course I will. But I need to be eulogizing him now as well. He has loved well, sought to serve others, and has lived a colorful life. He’s been a friend to me and to others. But he’s lived his life under a cloud – somehow the enemy too often pulled the rug out from under him. To eulogize means “to speak well of,” and a little more of that would have been a tonic to my friend.
Peter Lord first brought this to my attention. He explained to me that we should eulogize people while they are alive and in our presence, not when they are gone and can’t hear the kind words we have to say about them. Too many of us have fallen in the rut of criticizing people. Anybody can point out the broken behavior we see in others. But treat a person as though they already were what they could become, and that is what they will start becoming.
Most people are capable of far more than they realize. Yet, growing up, they hear the drumbeat of negativism. They get compared to their siblings and they struggle to find a place where they excel. It’s a dreary way to live.
I remember feeling perpetually inadequate in high school. I was small for my age. I didn’t have any friends who understood me. I was insecure about talking to girls. I underperformed in sports and academics. Whew! What a lot of negative baggage for anyone to overcome. Add to that the critiques of others and the result was I often felt depressed.
Sadly, that’s how a lot of people go through life, waiting until their burial for a good eulogy. The evidence of their failure gets underlined by their parents and friends – the very people who should be their biggest cheerleaders. The devil is called “the accuser of the brethren.” It’s appalling to me how, in an average day, so many people are ready to join him. They speak ill of others, in part because of their own sense of inadequacy – somehow tearing others down elevates them in comparison. It’s a broken equation that diminishes another to pump you up.
I recommend fasting from criticism and becoming a eulogizer of others. My friend Steve Wallace is a star at this. You can’t help but feel like a million bucks around him. People gravitate to folks like Steve. God already sees the enormous potential in all of us – eulogizing them just means seeing them as he does. Who needs a eulogy from you today?