As Christians in the modern economy, we face a constant temptation to limit our work and stewardship to the temporal and the material, focusing only on “putting in our 40,” working for the next paycheck, and tucking away enough cash for a cozy retirement.
Such priorities have led many to absorb the most consumeristic features of the so-called “American Dream,” approaching work only as a means for retirement, and retirement only as a “dead space” for recreation and leisure.
Yet as retiree Glynn Young reminds us, God never intended for our work and stewardship to end or sunset as we get older. Though our “day jobs” and economic activities may conclude, there is always plenty of work to be done:
As the time approached for me to seriously considering retiring, I discovered something: retirement is not a biblical concept.
Moses led the Israelites until he died and God buried him somewhere in Moab. David was king until he died. Paul and Peter continued their ministries until they were martyred. Even the Apostle John, exiled on Patmos, the only disciple who (it’s believed) died of old age, was still working, writing down the vision given him.
The Bible has no retirement road map. But it does have a concept that applies to retirement in the twenty-first century, and that concept is stewardship.
Young shares the details and difficulties of his own transition, noting the various ways to stay connected to previous endeavors, even as we pave the way for new ones. It may be time to conclude or adapt activities here and there, but our lives needn’t proceed toward round-the-clock idleness.
We are called to shift our stewardship, not end it, and the stewardship of one’s retirement involves its own unique goals and challenges.
It was no spur of the moment decision. It was done with considerable thought, deliberation, and prayer. It was, in fact, an exercise in stewardship. It was the stewardship of resources, the stewardship of transition, and the stewardship of time…
The stewardship of time is not only about determining how you will spend your time in retirement, but also about allowing time for the inevitable surprises and having the ability to change plans.
As Christians, our work is service to neighbor and God, and that service should never end.
Though our activities will shift as we get older, and though increased comforts and rest are no bad thing, let us not buy in to the ideals of an increasingly consumer-driven culture. Let the beach house, the golf course, and the sofa never be the idols or ends of our creative service.