In preparation for an article I’ll be posting on Wednesday about Christian retirement, I’m pulling out a couple of my older posts about retirement to give some perspective to my thoughts. Let me know what you think, and be sure to come back Wednesday to discuss what a Christian retirement should look like.
A while back, I wrote about an article I read at Oblivious Investor that prompted me to rethink retirement. I had been contemplating how retirement, especially early retirement and the retirement marketed by the media and financial companies, could be congruent with a Christian’s faith. The Bible says nothing of retirement as we think of it today. There’s only a passing mention of the idea that the older generation should stop working full-time when the Bible discusses how the Levites should stop doing their regular service and work and only assist their younger brothers in the work (Numbers 8:23-26).
Beyond that, there’s absolutely no mention of retirement in the Bible. The best case you can make for retirement in the Bible is the elders who sat at the city gates. As far as we know, they didn’t work or do manual labor. But they didn’t just sit around either. They were involved in the leadership and administration of justice in the towns and villages they lived in. We could equate this today to older people who are actively involved in volunteering, mentoring, sharing the Gospel, and serving the Lord in many other ways.
What Kind of Retirement Are You Planning?
A retirement focused on owning your dream home on the beach, or spending countless days golfing, or traveling the world purely for pleasure, or any other of the numerous “goals” people set for their retirements does not glorify God at all. On the other hand, a retirement that revolves around spending more time ministering to the needs of others and finding ways to serve God can and will glorify God.
There will come a time when you cannot earn all of the income you need from your usual work because you are either unable (physically) or you are replaced or some other reason outside of your control. When that day comes, there is no reason you shouldn’t retire and live off of your savings. However, until that day comes there is no Biblical reason why you should seek an early retirement either. The only possible reason I can think of is a Spirit-led decision to pursue something other than paid work that is related to spreading the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and bringing people to Christ. Pursuing early retirement because you’re sick of your job or because you just don’t want to work anymore is purely selfish and does not honor God or reflect well on your witness as a Christian.
With all the starving, sick, and homeless people in the world, how can we as Christians be focused on retiring early just so we can relax? If that’s our goal, the love of God is not in us and we are not truly following Christ. The same can be said of a regular retirement. Even if we can no longer work because of some reason outside of our control, our actions still reflect our beliefs about Jesus and His message. If we wish to truly do what He taught, we won’t plan for a retirement that’s all about leisure and pleasure. We’ll look for ways we can help others and glorify His name with our extra time.
Live Out Your Faith in Retirement
A Christian can prepare for and enjoy retirement, but it’s how we prepare, what we plan to do, and what we actually do in retirement that matter. Your choices can make your retirement honorable to God or a stumbling block to others. Plan for a moderate retirement that allows you to serve God more fully with your time than you did while you were working. Just as true followers of Christ wouldn’t live extravagantly and wastefully while they’re working, don’t plan for an extravagant or wasteful retirement either. Seek God’s wisdom on how you should prepare for the day when you won’t be able to work any more. Ask the Spirit to help you plan a retirement that will glorify God and accomplish His will on earth. Don’t let retirement be a time where Satan can distract you with the leisure and rest “you deserve”. Live out your faith during retirement, and let it be a testament to God’s goodness the and glorious gift He gave us in His Son!