By Earl Greaser
Can a Christian retire from his usual way of making a living? Yes.
Can a Christian retire from community responsibilities? Yes.
Can a Christian retire from being a Christian? No more than you can retire from living.
Webster defines retirement: “to withdraw from business or active service.” Retirement is usually associated with age 65. But if you are a professional football or baseball player you will retire at about half that age. If you are a politician, doctor or scientist, you probably won’t retire until ill health forces it upon you.
In the same way a lot of Christians think they can choose the time they “retire” from active church life. Some young people think they can “retire” as soon as they get out from under their parent’s control. Some middle-aged folks think they can “retire” as soon as their family is out of the nest. And I’ve heard older folks say, “I’m retired. Let someone younger do that,” when they were asked to take an active part in church.
The writer of Psalms 71 didn’t feel that way even though he was old.
Even when I am old and gray,
Do not forsake me, O God,
Till I declare your power to the next generation,
Your might to all who are to come.
Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
You who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you?
I will praise you with the harp
For your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy
When I sing praise to you –
I, whom you have redeemed.
My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long.
Psalm 71: 18, 19, 22, 23, 24a
Over and over in the New Testament we are told to be good stewards. Usually we think of money when the word stewardship is mentioned, but money is just another form of time. Whether we are getting paid for doing a certain job or not has nothing to do with whether we are good stewards of that time. It is just as important to use time wisely after you start drawing your Social Security check as before. Maybe even more so since you have more time at your own disposal. Some people will spend as many years in retirement as they do in the active workplace.
Are those of you who are already retired good stewards of the extra time God is giving you? Are those of you who are anxiously awaiting the day when you can forget about a time-clock or when you can turn the business or farm over to your son or daughter, planning now how you will spend your bonus years for the benefit of God’s Kingdom? Or does your version of the Bible read: “Blessed are those Christians who reach 65 in good health for they shall spend their time selfishly enjoying their accumulated wealth”?
Someone has said, “If you want to make a mess out of old age, start young.” May I suggest, “If you want your retirement years to be meaningful, plan for them beginning now.”
Let me just list some ideas that may be helpful as you prepare to retire:
- Take care of your body so it isn’t worn out before you reach 65.
- Build good relationships with your family and friends so you have good memories to live with and have someone who cares about you as you get older and need help.
- Be a good employee of the King of Kings from childhood on and you’ll have a job all your life. God doesn’t lay people off at age 65.
- Be interested and involved in the church’s programs and start thinking about things you can do for the church when you have more time.
- Learn to enjoy a variety of non-strenuous activities so you have something to do besides fold your hands and wait for death, if you have the misfortune of having physical handicaps later on.
- Prepare to retire from time to eternity. Face death realistically. You cannot live life to the fullest if you are not prepared to die. Death is not really retirement for the Christian. It is a promotion to new and better things.
Retire TO something, not FROM something.
Earl Greaser spent most of his adult life working with seniors as a nursing home administrator, and thinking and writing about making the most of retirement years. His sudden death at age 77 didn't allow him to spend many years in retirement, but his daughter, producer for the Embracing Aging documentary and this website, found this article in his files and posts it in honor of his work and his life.