What will be written on your epitaph? How do you want people to remember you? What type of legacy will your life leave behind?
I interviewed a very successful and powerful man one time for a magazine when this question came up. The man ran an international business that is a household name to all. He was a professed Christian, but he had difficulty answering my question. "I always knew someone would ask that question some day. I am not sure I am any more prepared to answer it now either," was the man's answer. He grappled for a few nice words, but it was clear he had not seriously considered his life much beyond his business success.
It is said of George Washington Carver that he got up early in the morning each day to walk alone and pray. He asked God how he was to spend his day and what He wanted to teach him that day. Carver grew up at the close of the Civil War in a one-room shanty on the home of Moses Carver - the man who owned his mother. The Ku Klux Klan had abducted him and his mother, selling her to new owners. He was later found and returned to his owner, but his mother was never seen again.
Carver grew up at the height of racial discrimination, yet he had overcome all these obstacles to become one of the most influential men in the history of the United States. He made many discoveries with the use of peanuts and sweet potatoes. However, after he recommended farmers to plant peanuts and sweet potatoes instead of cotton, he was led into his greatest trial. The farmers lost even more money due to the lack of market for peanuts and sweet potatoes. Carver cried out to the Lord, "Mr. Creator, why did You make the peanut?" Many years later, he shared that God led him back to his lab and worked with him to discover some 300 marketable products from the peanut. Likewise, he made over 100 discoveries from the sweet potato. These new products created a demand for peanuts and sweet potatoes, and they were major contributors to rejuvenating the Southern economy.
As he made new discoveries, he never became successful monetarily, but he overcame great rejection during his lifetime for being black. He was offered six-figure income opportunities from Henry Ford, and he became friends with presidents of his day, yet he knew what God had called him to do. His epitaph read:
He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.