April 7, 2019

Retired or Refocused?

Adapted from Freed-Up in Later Life

Retirement.  If we’re not living in it, we’re probably thinking about it.  Frustration with our jobs leaves us looking forward to a time when we don’t have to work for a living.  Burnout from the busyness of life makes us long for a slower pace.  Lack of time and resources to pursue our dreams causes us to envisage a future where we’re free to fulfill those desires.

And on the other hand, the thought of retirement can leave us anxious.  Will we have enough money to support us through those years?  Will Social Security still be around?  What will the state of the economy be and how should we invest to prepare?

Our culture promotes several myths regarding retirement.

  1. Age 65 is old, signifying a brief time of declining health until death.  Actually, life expectancy today for those who reach 65 is into the 80’s.  Further, many financial advisors suggest assuming that you may live into your 90’s.
  2. Leisure is just as fulfilling as meaningful work.  In reality, one retirement survey indicates that 2/3 of people say that they plan to work for pay after retiring because they want to stay involved and enjoy working.  Retirement without meaningful involvement or contribution to others leads to high rates of depression, illness, and sometimes, death.
  3. Older workers should make room for younger ones.  The current Social Security system was designed during the Depression, when massive numbers of younger workers needed jobs.  Additionally, older workers bring experience that can be a huge asset to companies and co-workers.
  4. People over 65 are less productive.  In fact, the elderly make fewer mistakes and have fewer accidents, lower absenteeism, and, in all but the most physically demanding work, higher productivity.

A Biblical perspective on retirement looks different.

  • God’s plan is that all the days of our life have meaning and purpose beyond ourselves.
  • The key question is not “When will I be able to retire?” but “What do I want my later years to look like?”
  • It’s about values and purpose, not money and leisure.

Key areas to consider when thinking about retirement include:

  1. Priorities: What will be most important to you?
  2. Lifestyle: What lifestyle do you want to have? How will it be different from your present lifestyle?
  3. Work: Will you continue working as-is? Continue working but on your own terms?  Work in a different capacity you’ve always thought about? Regularly volunteer?
  4. Housing: What will be your living arrangement – house, apartment, condo, travel home, retirement community?
  5. Location: Where will you live geographically – same locale, different part of the country, near your children?  If a different location, what is the cost of living there?
  6. Income: What will be your sources of income?

How do members of your congregation view retirement?  Are they thinking in Biblical terms, or being drawn into cultural norms?  If you think some could benefit from viewing retirement from God’s point of view, check out Freed-Up in Later Life.