"We should work until we die."
That's the proposition Paul Stevens makes in his book, Aging Matters: Finding Your Calling for the Rest of Your Life.
Some people are surprised to learn that retirement is a fairly modern idea, and it's one you won’t find in the Bible--other than God's requirement that Levites cease from the heavy lifting they performed in the Temple until age 50.
The concept of retirement as a government policy gained steam in the late 19th century in various countries and was widely adopted by the U.S. after the Industrial Revolution. As aging factory workers began to slow down assembly lines and take more sick days, companies rationalized that older workers were holding onto jobs that would be better and more profitably accomplished by younger workers.
In Genesis 1, God introduces Himself as a worker who creates, forms, plans, chooses, executes, and evaluates. Since God is a worker and we are made in His image, then work is at the core of who we are. While God rested from His work, He didn't retire and neither should we. In fact, most of the heroes of the Bible "died with their boots on" in Texas parlance.
While we may not work at the same pace, draw a paycheck, or make a regular Monday-morning commute, our post-sixty years can be the most productive, influential years of life. Paul reminds us ...
Though outwardly wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
In many ways, we have more to offer than ever before--especially to the generations behind us that need all the wisdom they can get.
In a thoughtful article posted on the Institute for Faith Work and Economics website, Peter Markgraff suggests ...
Retirement is an opportunity for a redeployment, a recalibration, a reset, revival, reform, and a new trajectory.
I recently ran across the Retirement Reformation Manifesto that suggests that our latter years are no time for flagging commitment, spiritual dormancy, excess leisure, or self-indulgence. Here's a sampling of the Manifesto's 10 Commitments:
We live for more than our culture’s definition and expectations of retirement.
We choose to enter each new season with a God-directed vision of His preferred future for us.
We live on mission for Jesus, representing Him to others. God calls each of us to be on mission during every stage of life.
We resolve to encourage others to find meaning and purpose following God’s design.
God's calling is something we never retire from. Even in death we graduate to the full expression of what God called us to be and do in His kingdom. So the question is not how can we live the rest of life in care-free ease, but how can we productively use the days God gives for His greater glory? While we may retire from a payed vocation, we never retire from working for God.