The Retirement Reformation Manifesto (part 7)

Principle #7: Intentionality

We recognize that our calling ends at death, not retirement.

 

Our entire lives are designed for a purpose and we can continue to grow spiritually and emotionally. This allows God to redeem our past mistakes, revitalize broken relationships and strengthen our commitment to our unique calling. We will follow His purpose, bear fruit, and experience the joy of being a disciple of Jesus.

“If you don’t have a goal, any port will do.” “When you aim at nothing you are sure to hit it.” “If you can afford to do nothing, you can afford to do something.” All of these quotes challenge us to look up, be aware, and do something.

Is your life designed for a purpose? If not, then random rovings are the answer. If so, acknowledging that your life does have some purpose, exploring what this means, connecting with it and acting on it would seem to be the best action plan.  

Two recent emails from individuals just exposed to the Retirement Reformation Manifesto illustrates this point; one person listed all their current numerous activities in retirement. He then asked, “What can I do to discover my true purpose?” Clearly, he was neither lethargic nor a couch potato. He was physically and socially active, yet he felt the nothingness of a purposeless existence. Meaning and purpose followed by intentional engagement with God’s plan will fill the void of nothingness that haunts him.

Another email shared the ministry activities and people helping priorities that filled the first 15 years of retirement. Now they were entering another life stage and needed a new focus and a new understanding of what was next. She wanted to be intentional about knowing “what’s next” but did not know how.

Another variation comes from a daughter who is worried about her 84-year-old mother. The mother had always been active and engaged in helping others but now feels inadequate, unprepared, and at very loose ends.

God has a plan for each of us, and it extends to the end of our lives, not just to some vague mid-point.

God called Abram to go to the Ur of Chaldees. He showed him where to go and what to do. Then he called him to another new land and showed him where to go and what to do. It took faith for him to listen and act yet there was always a clear next goal. So it is with our lives when we live with intentionality.

I believe Abraham changed dramatically from the time he was first called until his last. Remember the story of Abraham taking his son Isaac to the mountain. While it appeared that the purpose was to sacrifice Isaac, and Abraham was prepared to follow through with it, this was not God’s ultimate plan.

God told the Israelites in many different ways, through many different voices, and in many different places, that he had a plan for them. In Jeremiah 29:11 we hear God saying, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Our role then is to grow spiritually, grow emotionally, grow in faith, listen for those plans, and intentionally follow them. When we search for God’s plan, we will certainly find it. However, we do have to be intentional about the searching.

God’s plan for our lives has a purpose. The purpose is to reflect Jesus with our love and to bear fruit. Bearing fruit means the blessed results of our impact or influence on or with others. Whether that result is a cup of cold water or taking positive steps to heal a broken relationship. The result may be to enhance our capability and resolve to carry out His plan; therefore, bearing more fruit.

There are ministries, such as the one connected to the Colson Institute where you can take a gap year going into retirement and be helped to discover “what’s next.” The result of prayer, study and guided evaluation leads to a purpose statement and an action plan. I’d suggest that the value of this gap year, for those who can afford it, will come up again and again as you face the reality of the next life-stage. The prior quote seems appropriate, “ If you can afford to do nothing, you can afford to do something.” Perhaps we can expand on this thought, “If you can afford to do something, you can’t afford to do nothing.”

Whether you are a thinker, a doer, or a reflector, you are called to bear fruit. It is not until we bear fruit that the joy shows up. Not in a self-congratulatory way but in the deep personal knowledge that listening to the call, responding to it, and carrying it out to the best of your ability is the pre-cursor to those word’s “Good and Faithful servant.”

The Steward’s Manifesto says that God owns it all and we are to be stewards of what we’ve been given. Let’s call this the steward’s yardstick, “What’s your Stewardship score?” How are you doing with both the call and the action plan that evolves from it? Not so good? Now is the time to reverse course and get on God’s track. Then leverage what you’ve learned and what you are doing to even greater glory and rest in the fruits of the spirit that surround you.

The Greek meaning of the word intentional encompasses the idea of seeking and being open to the result. When we seek through reading our Bible, conversing with God, and listening for his voice, our intentionality will bring both peace and freedom. The truth will set us free and freedom will be a great reward - freedom in Christ to follow His example, His words, and deeds in His name. And it goes without saying that our time of relationship and service extends to death not some arbitrary point of retirement or work transition. We are called to live life to the full, for a lifetime, and to be faithful in the process.  

This Retirement Reformation Manifesto principle, Intentionality, is a key transition point from embracing to making it happen.

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