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Nov 09
2015

Retirement?

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

I may catch some grief for sharing my perspective on retirement. I will anyway.

My parents were born in the 1920’s and started work in the 1940’s. At that time life expectancy was 65 when Social Security would kick in. The average American was never expected to fully retire or collect on Social Security. Many did not have pensions so they worked as long as possible.

When I examine the Bible, I find no example of retirement in scripture. Moses was 80 when the Lord spoke to him through the burning bush, and he led the people for 40 years after the call. Joshua reflected “Just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” (Joshua 14:10-11, NIV)

The only example of retirement I see in scripture relates to Levite Priests. “After retirement they may assist their fellow Levites by serving as guards at the Tabernacle, but they may not officiate in the service.” (Numbers 8:26, NLT) Rather than not working, they would be assigned other duties.

Work is always a part of life. We read that “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15, NIV)

I love to read examples of those who are productive long after normal retirement. Dr. Leila Denmark remained active tending to children’s medical needs until she was 103. She died at 114 (http://drleiladenmark.com/ ). Another story that caught my eye is of Felimina Rotundo who, at 100, still works in a laundry. Yahoo News reported her comments on TODAY:  “I don’t believe in retirement. I believe 65 is too young. If I retired at 65, what would I have done all these years? I would’ve gone crazy! I work because I love people. I want to be around people.” (The full story is here: http://yhoo.it/1PSBf4j)

I have worked with many people who wanted to sell a business or transfer ownership to family members. Usually, they start helping with the mechanics of the business transaction. Then, I ask a key question: “What’s next?”

If we retire and do nothing, we waste our potential productivity and are poor stewards of our time and experience. I like to encourage someone departing a business or job to develop a vision for the next stage of their life. The key is to understand that you are not just giving up something; you are freeing yourself to do something more.

The next stage doesn’t need to be a paying job. Churches, Christian schools and ministries need volunteer help every day. Developing a volunteer work in ministry is very rewarding and helps to accomplish the Lord’s ministry. Others may choose to take another job or even open a small business. If they don’t need the money, they can develop cash flow to give away to fund ministry.

A very compelling advertisement raising funds for the United Negro College Fund was the slogan “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” (see an example of the public service announcement http://yhoo.it/1M3g9O1 ). I believe any mind is a terrible thing to waste.

My perspective is that we don’t need to imitate the picture of Ebenezer Scrooge. We can keep balance in our life. We might help out with grandchildren, serve at church or in ministry, or like Dr. Denmark, still see patients. She developed a vaccine to stop whooping cough in the 1930’s. She never stopped using her skills.

Taking time to travel, golf, fish, read or explore hobbies is fine. We all need balance and down time to do things on a bucket list. However, if we allow ourselves to stop all productivity; we tend to lose our purpose in life. We waste the opportunity to continue providing service. I knew “Elsie” who, at 97, retired from a church staff position.  At the time she said she could no longer meet the demands of getting to work, but she embraced her next ministry, prayer.  Elsie was going to commit the time she had worked to pray.

I encourage people to think and pray through their steps in retirement. I ask them to develop a vision of going toward something rather than stopping something.  Your greatest ministry or work may be ahead of you, not behind.

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Comments (1)add comment

Lucille Dignard said:

...
Merci!
After a cancer, I am retired.
But I pray to start a ministry with native people who live in my city (french) in Quebec, Canada.
 
October 16, 2019
Votes: +0

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