The Retirement Reformation Manifesto (part 3)

Principle #3: Contentment

We embrace the promise of the fruits of the Spirit, and reject the self-indulgent trappings of retirement. Our vision of a lifetime of service requires re-focusing, re-positioning, re-vamping, and re-energizing as we prepare for, enter, or experience retirement. The allure of doing “nothing” with eternal value, fades quickly.

How easily we become distracted. One of the most effective ways to neutralize an otherwise effective course of action or priority is to lose focus and become distracted. Politicians and magicians use this strategy all the time. When we focus on anything other than our top priority, we lose effectiveness, impact and the opportunity to experience the joy of finishing well.

Who does not want to experience what the Bible describes as the fruits of walking with God, the fruits of His spirit indwelling or being a part of us. Reflect on these benefits, these attributes of lessons learned, being connected to God’s spirit, and following Jesus’ teaching and modeling: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

The message of the Retirement Reformation makes it clear that filling the void of retirement with self-indulgent leisure or some other version of “nothing” is self-defeating if you do want to experience the Fruits of the Spirit.

When you contemplate the transition from career or from entrepreneurial ownership to the freedoms inherent in the next life-stage(s), we are clear about what is being left behind, but not so clear about what is ahead. Herein lies the challenge. We are often sucked into the vortex of believing that a transition to nothing is going to be the new nirvana. It never is.

My doctor once asked me about my vacation schedule for the year. When I responded that I took one full week away and then a number of long weekends he began his prescriptive lecture. “You can’t come down to a point of rejuvenation in one week. It takes two weeks to get to a neutral point when re-energizing can begin. It then takes another week to actually re-energize and be ready to function at full efficiency, with energy and purpose”. I admit to being shocked. I’d never heard that before and certainly never practiced this approach to re-focusing myself physically or emotionally. It made sense and so I tried it and he was right.

Our working lives and the transition either into retirement, or into the next stage of retirement, has some similarities to the annual vacation prescription my doctor shared. Our working careers may be fulfilling in and of themselves, or not, as the case may be. When the time for transition occurs, the idea of a long vacation is appealing, maybe even necessary. However, there comes a time when healing or restoration is over, and the lack of meaning and purpose becomes a point of pain or at least a point of vague disquiet. There is something missing or something wrong.

In some fashion, God’s way of bringing deep seeded contentment evidenced by the Fruits of the Spirit occurs not in the middle of nothing but occurs when we are rejuvenated and doing His work of representing Jesus to a hurting world and impacting others, helping them to heal and move to their own God directed and preferred future.

Contentment and peace are interlocking pieces to the same puzzle. We find contentment when we are operating in God’s will and in His way. Peace with ourselves and peace with others is such a relief. The stress of conflict and the tension of striving just for ourselves is hard and we become weary. It’s not a matter of work, because we work at whatever we do. The choice is to work within the parameters God makes available to us and then the “burden is light”. Have you noticed that the sweat on your brow from doing what you are passionate about is different than the sweat on your brow from other struggles? We think that “no sweat” is the best answer. The sweat that occurs because we are following God’s plan for our lives, is a sweet sweat.

You can be content, or at peace, even in the middle of turmoil. This kind of contentment is more like the assurance that your responses and actions reflect how Jesus says we are to live and will result in the best possible outcome. This confidence is contentment producing. Whatever the outcome, there is a new day dawning. As the preacher opined, “It’s Friday and Sunday is coming”. Our Savior died and rose again, so our eternal place of contentment is assured. The final and greatest Fruit of the Spirit.

The Retirement Reformation's principle and a promise of the availability and reality of living a content life is one of the greatest gifts our God gives to us. We just make it hard. Re-focusing, re-positioning, re-vamping, and re-energizing are the pathways to re-doing our thinking about the last decades of what can be joy-filled, productive and God-honoring life-stages ahead. The allure of doing nothing with eternal value fades quickly.

Go to: RetirementReformation.org to review the Manifesto, sign, and join if you agree. Download a copy for your reference and acquire the Retirement Reformation book or one written by any one of our Retirement Reformation Roundtable members.

Bruce Bruinsma