Christian Living

When Will You Retire?

God Created Us to Work, So Don’t Stop

I’ve worked from home since 2000. That’s a long time, and I doubt I could ever return to a more typical workplace environment. Through most of this time, neighbors would ask if I had retired. (How old did they think I was, anyway?)

I’d smile and tell them I was too young to retire.

Then they’d often ask about my retirement plans. I’d shake my head. Even now I tell them I have no plans to retire. I want to work as long as I can. My prayer is I’ll be able to keep writing until the day I die.

Keep Working

Retirement is a more recent phenomena, ushered in with the industrial revolution. Before then—except for military service—people worked as long as they could. They had no choice. They had to. Their livelihood depended on it.

When they could no longer work, their family took care of them. Even then they’d do whatever they could to help and not be a burden.

Aside from that—and more importantly—God created us to work (Genesis 2:15). Work gives us purpose. We must avoid idleness (Ecclesiastes 11:6). Idle hands are the devil’s workshop (Proverbs 16:27).

Therefore, we should work for as long as we can. This honors God, gives us purpose, and keeps us productive.

Reinvent Your Work

But what if you dislike your job and can’t wait to retire? Then find a different job.

Look at what you like to do, and then go do it. You may not earn as much money, but that shouldn’t matter because you wanted to retire anyway.

I relish my work as a writer. Yet not all aspects of it are enjoyable. No job is perfect.

So I tweaked my work. I eliminated incidental tasks that dragged me down and outsourced what I didn’t enjoy or wasn’t good at. I streamlined and simplified.

The result is that most of the day overflows with work I savor, with activities I embrace.

Each morning I arise excited for the day ahead. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with so much anticipation for what I’ll write in the morning that I have trouble falling back to sleep.

So instead of retiring, find your dream job and dive in. It may mean reinventing what you do. Or it might mean tweaking what you already do.

Life is too short for a job that pulls you down, so find one that invigorates you.

Follow Your Call

What has God called you to do?

He’s called me to write, to write for my Lord. I obey his call on my life. To retire from his call prematurely would dishonor him. As long as I can write, I’ll write for him. I’ll do this as long as I can—or until he calls me to something else.

Work for Free

If you’re retirement age, use your retirement funds, pension, or social security to pay the bills and then work for free. That is, volunteer your time to causes that matter.

What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing to help others? What have you always wanted to do but didn’t because it didn’t pay enough?

Since earning money doesn’t matter if you’re retired, pursue your passions. Just make sure your pursuit is about others and not yourself. Seek to make the world a better place, and don’t look inward with a self-serving motivation.

Forget Leisure and Don’t Coast

There’s nothing wrong with leisure activities, and we all need to rest (Genesis 2:3).

Yet we must take care to make sure leisure activities don’t fill our day. We shouldn’t retire and then coast to the end. Instead we must make each day count.

Find Your Purpose

Regardless of where you are in life—working for a living, nearing retirement age, or retired—seek an outward-looking purpose. Think about what you can do to give to others. Then do it.

Retire When You Can’t Work

When you’re no longer able to work, it is time to retire. To retire wisely, focus on three areas. Pursue them with diligence.

1. Do What Gives You Life: Many people toil in jobs that suck the life from them. I feel for them. I’ve been there. Now I’m not. My work as a writer gives me life. It provides a reason to get up each morning.

2. Do What Honors God: Our lives should serve as an act of worship. This includes all that we do, and it extends into retirement. Find retirement activities that honor God.

3. Do What Helps Others: A self-absorbed life is a selfish one. Instead of focusing on what we want for ourselves, we should redirect our attention on how we can serve and help others, to make our world a little bit better.

Final Thoughts about Retirement

As I consider these three retirement actions, they are exactly what I’m doing now in my work as a writer.

My work gives me life. My work honors God. And my work helps others.

As a bonus the books I write now will help others in the future, even when I’m no longer around. This is my legacy. And it’s work that matters to the world and advances the kingdom of God.

So it should be.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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