The Lies We've Bought Into About Retirement

"I can't wait for retirement!" "Retirement can't come soon enough!"

We verbally fantasize about doing nothing. Our thoughts about retirement are the "big" deception and our dreams of retirement have neutered the opportunity of a lifetime.

Condensing all that is written about retirement, the ads that show us green lines to happiness, and the excitement of travel, golf, and doing nothing have lulled us into believing that leisure is a virtue complete with meaning and purpose.

One additional perspective is the subtle belief that when Adam was kicked out of the Garden and told he'd have to toil, the curse was cast. Not quite right. God did forecast the pain of childbirth for the woman, and He then cursed the ground and challenged man to be fruitful and multiply, suggesting the difficulty associated with being both fruitful and multiplying. The message our culture takes away is that retirement is the end of that challenge. We escape from the "fruitful and multiply" command and replace it with lots of nothing.

Jesus brought additional perspective. We can see "progressive revelation" in action.

 For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13)

Jesus changed it from our having to work just-to-eat to our working and reflecting Jesus in our work throughout everything we do. Retirement is not an escape from work but a time to channel Jesus to the world.

Hope has lots of different meanings.

At the retirement party, the retiree shares his dreams of no physical work and embracing his bucket list of leisure activities. Here, we've reached our next big deception. The first is that retirement is an escape, and the second is that it is the big opportunity to satisfy your desires. When we buy into those two, we have shut down representing Jesus or impacting any lives other than our own. We are firmly convinced that because of our prior hard work and savings, we deserve it.

Finally, we are deceived by the whisper of the enemy. 

"You can discover, create, and formulate what is best for your next stage(s) of life." You are led to believe meaning and purpose are discovered from the inside out. The lie is that you are the God of discovery instead of God having a plan for you to follow. This gives us the excuse to do nothing. Indolence and a frivolous waste of time seem just as valuable as "picking up our cross and following Jesus."  As a matter of fact, it might just be less painful. Though certainly less meaningful.

God planned our lives in the eons that existed before the beginning of time. His call on our life is nothing new. What seems to take a long time is for us to understand that His call on our life is for a lifetime and not a season. It's not bounded by time but was created before time. We often don't take the time to listen, follow, and be filled with His spirit.

When a Christian Executive was asked what he was going to do in retirement, his answer was, "God hasn't shown me yet." Really? Have you neither asked or listened to the answer? God has the plan. It is ready to be executed and only you can carry it out because it is that special and unique. When you tie the listening and following with the old adage "God doesn't steer a parked car," you begin to understand the depth of the deception.

The enemy deceives us by suggesting, with our accepting, the subterfuge that "nothing" is in fact something.

I know, it's a smart tactic if you want to put millions of Christians on the sidelines and slow down Kingdom growth dramatically.

Here is a synopsis of our culture's view of retirement:

Retirement is one homogeneous life stage marked by a consistent decline in physical and mental capacity ending in death. In the interim, our time is jammed with leisure masquerading as having meaning and purpose. You have little purpose or usefulness is the inevitable according to anyone younger examining who you are and what you do.

Think about the deception existing in every one of those lies. Death is inevitable, agreed. But eternal life is a reality. Physical and mental deterioration is a reality, agreed. But a growing relationship with God and increased emotional maturity are positive benefits.

Leisure is delightful, to a point, agreed. Living with meaning and purpose and impacting others is deeply satisfying. Modeling "nothing" for upcoming generations leaves a cynical and irrelevant legacy.

Some lies are blatant and easily identified. Others are more subtle. It is the subtle ones that deceive generations of people and mislead every one of them into a lifestyle or action plan totally separated from God. The enemy can't control us, we have a choice. But the enemy can influence our thinking and misdirect our lives. The enemy does this well. He's had a long time to practice.

So be encouraged. Examine the lies discussed above and see how they are impacting your life and/or the lives of loved ones. Share this message with those who are open to hearing the drumbeat of a different drummer. Jesus has a different message, a different view, resulting in a different life. Here the meaning and purpose will bring joy to you and re-direct the lives of others.

It is time for a Reformation in our thinking about retirement.

Bruce Bruinsma