Who Do You Want to Like You When You’re Eighty?

New YorkWith fireworks and champagne or sparkling grape juice (depending on your preference) my guess is you ushered in 2013 with a celebration. The obligatory kiss caught on camera  in New York City, the ball dropping, the “Happy New Year'” heard around the world – they all come in with pops and bangs, with excited anticipation.

And now, it’s New Years Day – the beginning of 2013. Undoubtedly social media sites, newspapers, and the blogosphere have already begun to inundate you with messages on what you want this year to mean, what goals you may have, what movies you should watch for.

Some of these messages may be meaningful: some may urge you to pick a word for the year – let’s say it’s gratitude, and live out that word; others might encourage you to set spiritual, vocational, physical goals.

But I’m not going to do that.

I’m going to give you one question by which to make decisions. If I was really holy, I would give you something about God and I hope you all know how much I love Him….but no, I’m giving you a different question, one that has served me well for years.

Who do you want to like you when you’re eighty?

In bold italics I write it.

It’s a serious question this one. Who, really, do you want to like you when you’re eighty? 

Your boss? Your work? Your book club? Your colleagues? Your hairdresser?

Make the list. Make it twice. And before you make a decision, particularly about work, ask yourself who you want to like you when you’re eighty. There are several times where I’ve come to a crossroad in my life, a point where work and home seem to conflict with each other, where work wants to crowd out that which is important to me. And though I pray and seek guidance sometimes it’s the practical question that gives the greatest clarity.

The choice sometimes feels unfairly weighted. On the one side is money, affirmation, yearly raises, a well-crafted resume. On the other, depending on the year, it can feel like doing needle point – taking painstaking care to get the stitches right, but knowing I won’t see the full picture, the results of the careful stitching, for a long time.

But in all of this, asking this question has never failed me.

And with that I’ll sign off and wish you a New Year filled with blessing, filled with Grace for what comes, filled with knowing more about this God who is “completely trustworthy and utterly unpredictable.”

And those of you who are older “of a more mature age” – What question would you encourage us to ask ourselves? Please share through comments! 

15 thoughts on “Who Do You Want to Like You When You’re Eighty?

  1. When we reach 80 we are what we have been cultivating all the previous years. I never dreamed I’d reach 80. It always seemed so old and far away, unattainable. Now that I’m 80+ I agree with what Ruth Ann wrote, “the person I want to like me when I’m 80 is me.” This does not mean that I am a finished product and fine just the way I am. No! The Lord keeps working on me. If I live to be 90, the cultivation will continue. I guess the question to ask is, “Am I becoming more like the Master? Whose approval am I seeking?”


  2. It is all about family, close friends, and God this will still be the same when I turn 80 or 100. People one works with are temporary companions unless deep friendships are fostered with a few. A few of my dear close friends, I met on the job in my early twenties. We have shared multiple joys and sorrows and will do so as long as we live.
    Wishing all a God-filled New Year,


  3. I refer to Ralph & Polly Brown who are more experienced living in their 80s than we are. Seriously, I want to be faithful in obeying Eph. 5:20. I have found no better remedy for disappointments. Of course it is easy to give thanks for all that fits our desires. But Scripture says to be faithful whether things go our way or not. It’s one of the best tests of trusting God in his sovereignty.


  4. Here is the question I try to ask myself, mostly when I’m irritated, impatient, angry: Will this matter 100 years from now? This gives me some perspective. Yes, there are things that I should care enough to go the distance, to be angry enough to do what ever I can to make it right. But most of the things that bother me in the everyday humdrum of life are pretty minor, and I try, altho I’m not always successful, to let them go, to remind myself that even next month or next week I likely won’t even remember it.


  5. Me. The person I want to like me when I’m 80 is me – I want to know I’ve done the best I could – making choices that are grounded in my faith values, making noises that rail against injustice and oppression and on a whole finding that I’ve lived in that balance. Some days heavier on one side – others weighted on the other, but over all balanced in love.


    1. Thanks Dawn – interesting that I thought I had read this in a book years ago. I dug out the book after I wrote the post. Turns out it doesn’t ask this question at all – It asks “Who do you want to be when you’re eighty?” But all these years I had translated it in my mind to who do I want to like me when I’m eighty. It must have hit me at the time I read it that when I’m eighty I want my kids, my spouse, my close friends to like me….


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