I’ve recently spent time with a friend and former team member who will be retiring in a few weeks. I congratulated him, and told him that he may have a variety of feelings as he approaches his retirement date and immediately afterward. For so many years (for me it was nearly 38), I knew where I was going to work each day, and what I would be doing. Then, all of a sudden, that phase of your life is over. I remember feeling almost like I was doing something wrong, like I should be somewhere, instead of home.
My wife Tammy and I agreed that I would not just jump into activities after retiring, but take some time to decompress after my retirement date. Some refer to this as taking a sabbatical. Ideally, we were hoping to find ministry work that we could do together.
After serving God in your primary vocation, what does serving God in retirement look like for you? What is your purpose in this new chapter of your life? That is a question that several members of our church small group have been asking recently.
In his book Retiring Well: Strategies for Finding Balance, Setting Priorities, and Glorifying God, John Dunlop tells us that God has gifted us with our retirement years, and he calls us to use them not for ourselves but for Him. But what does a retirement that brings glory to God look like? It will probably look different for each of us.
In his book Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance, Bob Buford asks us to consider what we do so well that we would enjoy doing it even if we weren’t paid for it. We should serve him by doing what we like to do and what we are good at. Jeff Haanen in his book An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life, tells us that for many, retirement offers a budding hope for work that better aligns with calling, yet is less subject to the deadline-driven pressure of their careers.
Two members of our small group have recently chosen to serve God in retirement by using their education and prior work experience:
- A former middle school guidance counselor is using her education and work experience to counsel women at our local Pregnancy Resource Center.
- A former school teacher is teaching at a local school a few days a week.
There are a number of other things you could consider as you seek to serve God in retirement:
- Mentoring or discipling others
- Volunteering at a food bank or hospital
- Reconnecting with family
- Caring for aging parents
- Volunteering at a prison ministry
- Getting involved in a ministry at your church
- Caring for the spiritual nourishment of the next generation
- This could include studying or teaching the Bible, reading good books and perhaps joining a book club, taking classes or pursuing a degree.
We should all give prayerful consideration on how we can best bring glory to God in retirement. What thoughts do you have to add about this subject?