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A January 14 press release from LifeWay Christian Resources caught my eye with a surprising headline: “Survey: Most SBC pastors not prepared to die.”

I read the release, curious to see if a majority of Southern Baptist Convention pastors — whom one would expect to feel assured of salvation and confident of life beyond death — were actually quavering at the thought of death’s cold hand.

Not to worry: the article never mentioned how SBC pastors feel about the prospect of shuffling off this mortal coil. What the survey found is that many have done no estate planning. Thirty-seven percent of SBC pastors don’t have any sort of will or durable power of attorney with healthcare directives.

Younger pastors (18-44) are the least likely to have done any planning, with just 32 percent having a will and 12 percent having a healthcare power of attorney in force.

Planning one’s estate is a matter of stewardship and concern for one’s family. But taking that responsible step requires some time, effort and expense — along with the contemplation of a world in which we no longer exist. Even for those most confident in a heavenly home, that’s not necessarily a pleasant thought.

Being prepared to die is a much bigger issue than whether we will leave it to the state to untangle and distribute our estate. And, it’s bigger than the question of whether we feel redeemed and heaven bound.

When our death-day arrives, if circumstances allow an opportunity to think about it, will we have the sense that we’ve done what we could with the time we had to make the world a better place, to make our lives count for something? Will we be caught up on fence-mending and forgiving and asking forgiveness? Will our loved ones know that we cared enough to make plans that will save them needless trouble and extra grief? Will we be “ready to go”?

There’s a lot involved in being prepared to die.

We don’t like to think about it, but we should.

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