The Retirement Reformation Manifesto (part 4)

Principle #4: Stewardship

We realize retirement may extend for thirty years or longer

 

The reality of longevity demands that we see all retirement seasons as a resource to be appreciated, embraced, valued, and to faithfully steward. We are committed to healthy living.

Spike Lee recently received an industry award. His reaction to the length of time between when he started in the industry and when he was recognized says a lot: 30 years is a long time, ain’t it?

For the first time perhaps since the fading of the long-lived patriarchs of Genesis, like Methuselah, we are faced with the reality of longevity. Because we live it one day at a time, we don’t recognize the significance of what is increasingly a 30-year period between 65 or 70 and our end time, often ranging up to 30 years.

Reflect on any 30-year period of your life. Take the years between 20 and 50, did anything of significance happen to you during that period? Yes, just about everything changed. You grew up, became self-sufficient, got married, had kids, became a grandparent, all in those 30 years.

That personal example should be enough to highlight the changes coming in any 30-year period. Yet, most of us think of the retirement years, and even the preparation time prior to retirement, as one homogeneous life stage. Nothing could be further from the truth.

10,000 people are turning 65 every day in America. Not only is there an explosion of those over 60, but there is an explosion of those over 100. The centenarians, those over 100, are expanding because the septuagenarians, those between 70 and 79 are growing at an astounding rate. 

The reality of longevity leads us to ask some new and serious questions: What will we do during those 30 years is one of them? Our increasing life span is a precious resource, one to be valued, cherished and seen with a stewardship perspective.  Webster defines stewardship as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. Biblically speaking, we are to be good stewards not only of our money but of our time, talent, resources, relationships, and our health.

In order to be a good steward of those upcoming years, regardless of your age when you read this, there needs to be an appreciation for what is being carefully and responsibly managed for the preparation of the new experiences ahead, freedom to embrace at least three new stages of life, and the willingness to hear God’s call prior, to, and during each one of those stages.

A mighty big order, and one that needs to have the Light of Life shined on it, the Light of the Word reflected in it, and the Light of the Spirit speaking into it. Our stewardship of the Preparation life-stage, the Active life-stage, the Mentoring Life-stage, and the Reflective Life-stage are equally important.

All that being said, it’s complicated. The retirement years will encompass times of great joy and pleasure, service and relationship plus times of pain, self-doubt, and challenging relationships. It is during these times we can, are to reflect the love of Jesus, to the world while simultaneously demonstrating the true meaning of being a Jesus follower. The reality of longevity allows us increased time and increased opportunity to do what we are called to do.

Here are two additional observations demonstrating the impact of longevity. There are families with up to 6 generations still living. 5 generations are not uncommon, and 4 generations are becoming commonplace. The impact of those generations and the interrelationships between them add to the complexity. Finances, cultural differences between the generation, and living relationships all become more complex as the number of living variables increase.  

Because we are becoming an increased society of sitting rather than exercising, or at least moving around, health issues grow right along with the emotional and relational ones. The Retirement Reformation wants to change the way we think about health, as well as all the other topics requiring changed thinking, re-focusing and re-energizing. Our health practices need as much reforming as all the other aspects of our life.

A recent new release shared the startling fact that by the end of 2019 there will be as many over 60 in this country, as there are under 19. We have a barbell reality, big groups on either end of life’s spectrum. Our churches pay a lot of attention to the younger end of the age spectrum, as well they should. However, there is little attention being paid to supporting the life and activity stewardship of those over 65. It is time the Church and our other faith-based communities wake up to the need, the opportunity, and the necessity of stewarding this growing and precious resource. “Keep giving and don’t be grumpy!” are not the only message needed. “We love you, we need you, and here are multiple ways to serve the kingdom within our fellowship” are the new clarion call of the Retirement Reformation to the church.

The result of longevity in our times, and how we steward this new gift, will determine whether we hear the words, good and faithful servant, or not. Lean into this principle of stewardship. Meaning, purpose, and fulfillment will be the result.

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

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