by Mike Glenn
Put things on your bucket list that will have eternal impact.
To-do-lists, day planners, and calendaring help us set goals and check our progress. A lot of us have made a list of things we want to do before we “kick the bucket.” Most of the time, it’s filled with things that make us feel most alive, such as seeing the Grand Canyon or skydiving. Former President George H.W. Bush jumped out of a plane on his 75th, 80th, and 85th birthdays. Good for him. I’ll pass.
Most of the time, our bucket lists are nothing more than harmless fun, but thinking about what we’d like to get done in the time we have is always a necessary exercise. As we grow older, we begin to understand the real challenge isn’t time management but life management. How we use our time is a direct result of those things we think are important in our lives.
And here’s where the Christ-follower’s list differs from the rest of the world. We don’t ask what we want to get done before we die. Instead, we ask, “What do I need to get done that’s going to matter for eternity?” Jesus gives us a different understanding of time and priorities.
We believe our lives have been given to us. Our lives and the time that makes them up don’t belong to us. We believe life is a gift. Not only that, we believe the death of Christ on the cross paid for our sins, and His resurrection claims our lives for His cause. The apostle Paul reminds us, “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
And that changes things. It changes everything.
For one thing, our perspective of time is changed. While we are mindful that our lives can be compared to grass that blooms in the morning and wilts in the afternoon, we believe, when our lives are lived for the sake of the kingdom, what we do and who we become matters … forever.
So, that might change what’s on your bucket list.
Maybe traveling to the Grand Canyon isn’t as important as volunteering to be part of a new church start in your community. Think about it. Most church planters I know are great preachers and teachers, passionate about the gospel. But they’re lousy business people. What if you took your CPA training to that new church and put in their financial system? What if you volunteered to visit the hospitals or shut-ins of your church?
I work a lot with young adults (see kairosnashville.com for more on this ministry). The one thing they crave is for more mature people to spend time with them. Many young families are miles away from their parents. What if you and your spouse were to adopt a young family in your church and mentor that young couple and be adoptive grandparents to their children? What if, instead of vacations, you were to take missions trips?
We don’t win every battle. Everything we get involved with doesn’t work out. That was never promised. What was promised is Christ wouldn’t let your life, faithfully lived for Him, come to nothing. The cup of water given in His love and the sick visited won’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
The comfort we seek at the end of our lives is not that we just did stuff but that we did what matters. Don’t you want to know the world is a little better because you were here? A wrong was made right, an injustice was corrected, a life was made stronger — all because you made the courageous decision to do what matters.
Here’s the only advice I ever give anyone — “Do what you have to do to live with yourself.” If you can look in the mirror and say, “I did everything possible,” you’ll be fine. What you can’t live with is “I wish I had … ”
I pray you get everything done on your bucket list. More than that, I pray what you get done really matters.
MIKE GLENN is the executive editor of Mature Living and serves as senior pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn. Follow his blog mikeglennonline.com.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living, August 2014. Subscribe.