What’s Worth Living For?

Most of us like to talk about the things we would give our lives for. But we live our lives ricocheting from one requirement to the next, so consumed with chasing approval that we forget there are things just as important to live for.

Goals Status:

  • Marathon: On Track. I’ll be going out for my next run as soon as I finish this.
  • Two Square Yards of Earth: Making Progress. I started Chapter 6 yesterday.
  • 100 Posts: On Track. This is my 26th post for the year.

We all have people around us we would give our lives for: friends, children, wives, husbands. Many of us would lay down our lives for principles like freedom, honor, truth, right. Identifying the people and principles we would give our lives for is a way of telling the world who we are, what we stand for, the lines we’re not willing to cross. It’s a way of expressing our devotion to our families, usually accompanied by a but: I would die for her, but I can’t stand the way she’s been talking to me lately, or I would die for him, but I wish he’d turn off the computer and spend some time with me, or I would die for my kids, but I can’t make them see how much they mean to me.

But it’s also a way of letting ourselves off the hook. A willingness to die for someone is the ultimate expression of affection and love, after all, and Jesus agrees: John 15:13 says Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. After we acknowledge that we would die for someone, the work is done. Right?

I don’t think so.

Identifying the people and ideas we’re willing to die for isn’t the last step. It’s closer to the first.

It’s entirely too easy to let the overwhelm of our busy lives sweep us away, as if we’re caught in a rushing river and all we can do is grab for a floating log and hold on for dear life. When we feel like that’s our life, it really is easier to tell someone I would die for you than it is to show them how much they mean. Much easier to talk about dying than to identify what’s worth living for, and start living.

Because what most of us never understand is that in order to get out of the river, we have to release our death-grip on the log and start giving our attention to what’s around us.

We have to stop telling our wives I would die for you from the couch, and instead get up and help put the kids to bed.

We have to stop telling our husbands I would die for you by text as we roll through McDonald’s between soccer and Scouts, and instead make the time to hold hands for a fifteen-minute walk around the block.

We have to stop telling our kids I would die for you by phone from the office, and instead make it to some of their soccer games and ballet recitals–and leave our smartphones in our pockets while we’re there.

We have to stop talking about what we’re willing to die for, and decide what we’re willing to live for. Then we have to start the hard work of living.


I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.
  • Yes! I think there is a love song in that: Live Like You’d Die for Me. Great encouragement.

    • H. Scott Dalton

      I love that, Alyson! Please come back and share the song when you’ve written it. Thanks!