Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

On Retirement

Retirement.jpgRetirement has become an entitlement to many in the West, and the sooner the better many believe. 

Not all that long ago folks didn’t think like this, and only few could retire the way many do today. 
For many, to retire means to cease working and to start living for fun and relaxation with very few responsibilities. In other words, find a place in the sunny weather, play golf, take trips … do what you want.
I wonder how many pastors and theologians are thinking much about retirement. How does our Western theory of retirement fit into our theology and our beliefs? I think about this some these days as retirement age begins to get closer and closer, but I’m wondering what resources we have for a “retirement theology”?
Furthermore, many want to retire to sunny places. Some think even more grandiose about sunny laces, like this piece from Any thoughts on this kind of retirement?

The best place in the world to retire, according to expatriate lifestyle magazine , is sunny, cheap, cosmopolitan and 8,000 feet high in the Andes.


Cuenca, Ecuador’s third-largest city, is a well-preserved colonial city of cobblestone streets and dramatic period architecture, with modern suburbs, shopping and all the comforts American retirees might expect. Yet they can live there — and well — for about $17,000 a year, the magazine says.

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Michael W. Kruse

posted June 29, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I think the retirement question falls into the larger discussion of a theology of work. I think through experience, discernment, and circumstance, we can figure out the best occupation for our vocation … I’m thinking of vocation as something that may have many occupational expressions. Whether through formal employment or not, I think God calls us to mission and service in the world throughout our lives. The idea of pure leisure for years on end is suspect in my book.

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posted June 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Having been a financial planner for the last decade, I’ve gained insight into what makes people from all walks of life tick. The search for the American Dream is something that I believe the church has done a lousy job shaping.
Retirement conversations that I had with my clients centered around retiring to something rather than from something. The search for significance transcends all theological view points. I believe that the greatest impact that I had on my clients was helping shape that search for significance in a way that honors God.
Peoples perspectives on retirement have changed (especially the Boomer generation) most envision work as a part of their lives, likely until they die. The challenge for the church in America is using that “successful” work force to expand the Kingdom.
A couple of great books on this subject are Halftime and Finishing Well by Bob Buford

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Joan Ball

posted June 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm

When I was in my early 30s I worked as the spokesperson for a nuclear power plant in New York. This was in the days of regulated utilities so a job with this utility was a job for life where people who worked for 30 and 40 years on call 24/7 were rewared with a great retirement party (replete with gold watch) and a lucrative pension. I became close with many of these men (and most in management were men) and watched them count down the days to retirement. When the first guy died less than two years after retirement, I was devastated. He’d given his life (missing graduations, Christmas’, etc) in preparation for a retirement that never came. When the second and third of my friends died within a year or so I began to think a little differently about retirement. Fast forward a decade and my parents had the same experience – both passed away within three years of my mother’s retirement. I’m not sure how this informs a theology of retirement, but I can’t help but think that the fragility of life, the importance of living it every day not putting off living (or serving/following our calling) until a tomorrow that may or may not happen.

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Jim Martin

posted June 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Yes, I have thought about this one — a lot.
*For many people retirement is not about transition to another stage of life but rather a life of fun, ease, etc. Consequently, for many there is not a sense of ministry during these years. In fact, many people begin to shut down from their ministries. (“I’ve put in my time” as one woman said.) Instead of thinking about a transition into another kind of ministry or lifestyle, there almost seems to be a pulling back.
*In many instances the American view of retirement has robbed the church of one its most needed resources:
Yet, so often those who ought to be repositories of wisdom are pulling back, shutting down, and seem to have a vision that is much, much smaller than Jesus’ kingdom vision. (Or even someone like Caleb who at 85 years old, stood with the people of Judah declaring that he still believed in the promises of of God. “Now give me this hill country…” (Joshua 14:10-12)
Certainly, transitioning from one phase of life to the next is desirable. One may choose to no longer work full-time. One may choose to do a different kind of work. One may choose to live in a new place. However, we do not retire from serving God. We do not come to a place in life where God can no longer use us. Ministry, in the best sense of that word, continues on as we love God and love others.

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Steve D

posted June 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I have thought about retirement. I’m not that many years from that golden 65. However, aside from the financial aspects, I’m not so sure I want to retire. I enjoy working, the friendships and camaraderie as well as the challenges. I’m not dedicated to my employer, per se. But they may wind up carrying me out in a box.

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posted June 30, 2010 at 2:03 am

What Biblical basis is there for retirement? I am just curious. No opinion on the issue, still formulating it….
Captcha: Coercing Carter’s

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Nancy Gordon

posted June 30, 2010 at 2:07 am

I think this is an area the church needs to be thinking about. We do need a theology of vocation, mission and discipleship with the understanding that it will look different at different points in our lives. We need to find ways to help people discern the best use of their gifts at all stages of adulthood–and continue it into retirement. I like the idea of retiring to something. Perhaps one of the causes of early death in retirement is the lack of any idea of what to do with oneself after years of putting in your time. I hope to sort of gradually ease into retirement with some significant projects or work in the early stages–but more time for rest too. And I’m not putting off all my travel and saving all my money for retirement–when you’ve lost a 36 y.o. daughter to cancer, you learn there are no guarantees of length of time left.

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Travis Greene

posted June 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

The idea that we will work full-bore until a certain arbitrary point (aka as long as we have to) and then suddenly stop was always a little silly. Better to work an appropriate amount your entire life, practicing Sabbath principles of rest and rhythm, tapering off as you get older, than to “pay your dues” working too much when you have a young family, then coast through your elder years. I realize not everyone has the luxury of deciding the structure of their career life, but most of us have more control than we think we do.

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posted June 30, 2010 at 1:05 pm

This post makes me think about those old knights in the Arthurian stories who would hang up their lances and shields and retire to a life of prayer and penance as a hermit. I wonder if that image has anything to say to use today.
Captcha: tryouts lose

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posted June 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm

approaching my 60th b-day and my 4th year of “retirement”–but having falled full retirement :) When I meet with my fellow retirees–we all say–I wonder how I had time to work!?
If you are called to do something–do it.

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posted June 30, 2010 at 4:36 pm

The traditional American model for retirement is a one way road to not finishing well. Needs rethinking for sure.

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posted June 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Well, I don’t know anyone who will be able to afford to retire, so that kind of changes the conversation.

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posted July 1, 2010 at 10:19 am

At 65 and looking toward stopping my current job in March 2011, I have found the conversation about retirement difficult. Forty years of intense work has left me tired, but uncertain how to look to the future. I have work in areas of my primary passion, higher education, but I don’t want to just set back in the sun. Perhaps, a theology of retirement is really a rethinking the theology of how we work and live over the entire life span.
This link might give some insight.

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posted May 6, 2012 at 5:10 am

i am 20 months retired from doing business which practically dictated the hectic tempo of earning,saving and acquiring; retirement has given me more time now to re-direct my time, space and energy to God whom I have side-lined. I now have to divest what I have materially accumulated and begin to invest in what will last forever. I guess this prepares me to meet my creator. Looking back…I see how God was all the time present with me, even if I was absent to Him.

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