Isn’t it strange that during our time of greatest maturity of understanding and potential life impact, we are sidelined by the siren call to “leisure”? We have succumbed to the world’s view of what they call retirement. It’s sold as one homogeneous period highlighted by physical and mental decline with the associated goal of jamming as much leisure into the time that’s left. This definition is both depressing and wrong. As Christians, we have something more and something better in our future.
I was sitting with my friend John in a local eatery. He invested the better part of 30 years leading a local ministry. At 67 he is handing the reins to a younger associate. As we began talking, I noticed he looked and sounded relieved. I asked him about the transition. He shared about the weight being lifted from his shoulders and how he was looking forward to traveling with his wife of 40 years. After congratulating him I asked, “So what are you going to do next?” His look reminded me of the proverbial deer in headlights.
“You know,” he said, “I haven’t thought about it. I’m sure something will turn up.”
John was quite clear about what he was retiring from and clueless about what he was retiring to. During the next 30 minutes, I introduced him to the reality of longevity. Odds are 30 years is the length of time ahead of him. Even his deer in headlights look glazed over!
Then I asked him how he connected with his ministry and he told me the story of the clear calling he had to serve. It was a touching story with the bottom line of his being uniquely called and specially prepared for the responsibility. “So,” I asked him, “has God stopped calling you now?” He looked confused, to say the least. If He prepared you for your last 30 years of ministry, don’t you think He’s prepared you for another 30? It might look different, but we are all called to be faithful for a lifetime.
John and I met a few weeks later. He’d accessed the RetirementReformation.org website and downloaded all three of my books in the Future Funded Ministry series. Finding Freedom, Moving Forward, and the latest one, Charting your Course all helped. He then connected with the heart of the Retirement Reformation by purchasing my book by that name. In the Retirement Reformation book, I talk about the issues faced in retirement other than money. The book is available wherever books are sold online.
The glazed look is now gone and there is certainly no deer in his headlights. He was just excited! Excited to realize that God was nowhere near done with him yet. He realized that the last 67 years were only the prelude to what was ahead. Then he paused and asked, “Should I feel guilty taking the trips we’ve planned?” Of course not! Remember this, leisure, rest and rejuvenation are important for your future role in ministry. No one can honestly defend 30 years of golf or travel. However, 20%-30% of your time focusing on yourself and your family is perfectly reasonable. Take a year sabbatical and then embrace what has lasting meaning and purpose. You won’t regret it and you will even live longer.
I’ve shared John’s story because it reflects the status quo of so many. John was entering the initial stage of retirement. It is interesting to note that there are three stages in retirement. Each stage has it’s unique properties and requires a re-examination of who you are, what God is calling you to do during the next season and a clear understanding of why you are doing it.
As I move into my late 70’s, I’ve never been more passionate or had so much energy and as many ideas as I have now. This passion and the energy are generated because God has called me to the messaging of the Retirement Reformation and I’m part of the generations with the potential to impact God’s kingdom in ways we cannot even imagine. Challenging and encouraging those empty nesters or those who did not have children and are approaching their 50’s 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and yes, beyond to engage in the invigorating journey to discover your big WHY! Why are you here? Where are you going? What is your unique role in the Kingdom going forward?
You are not forgotten; you are equipped. You are not to be ignored; you are to be valued. You are not to be set aside; you are to be engaged. Listen to what Jesus said in John 15:16
“You did not choose me. I chose you to bear much fruit…..fruit that will last.”
Jesus did not just throw out useless or irrelevant platitudes or high-sounding rhetoric. He meant every word. You have been called, given margin (time), capacity and capital. All the necessary ingredients to respond to His unique call for the rest of your life. Yes, we are all to love our neighbors. I’m convinced that God has a special way for you to show that love. And when you do, you will begin to experience those wonderful fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Who better to trust with the keys to the Kingdom?
So, what’s next? Maybe this is the 11th commandment for our time: Get connected and figure out your why. Discover who you are, discover who you have become, listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and find your direction and get started. Your job is to represent Jesus in all the unique ways He has prepared for you.
The Retirement Reformation exists to start and encourage a new movement. A movement of God among those approaching retirement age and way beyond. There are currently 30 million of us and if only 10 million find their why, listen to the Spirit’s direction and got moving, we’d change our country and perhaps the world. Many are praying for revival. We need a revival of the most capable, experienced and insightful people of our time – you and me.
On the Retirement Reformation website, you will find several pathways to why, along with roads that lead to action. Read my book, access the prayer guide, read the devotions, take the 8-week small group study, (it can be done on your own), read the Bergstrom’s book on The Third Calling, or go to their website and connect with their material.
There are a multitude of resources for you: My challenge to you is to do something leading to understanding your why. Then connect and perhaps discover your passion. Next, join the growing and alive group of Jesus followers and impact your part of the world with love in action. It is as close as your work associates or the neighbors around your block. Whatever it is, get busy……you’ll never be happier. And don’t forget there may be another 30 years ahead. We are each called to be faithful for a lifetime.
Champion of the Retirement Reformation