Retirement means applying life’s lessons


As our physical capabilities decrease, our wisdom increases.

Have you ever thought about that? When we couple that truth with this thought, “Retirement means less doing and more being” and we enter the 4th Quarter, Life 3, we are initiating a new way of thinking, doing and being.

What is the last painful experience you’ve had that taught you something?

Each life experience is a teacher that uses your experiences as key life lessons. Those learned lessons accumulate over time and when taken as part of our “river of life” journey, lead to wisdom and the ability to give leadership, wise counsel, and reflective insights into those key issues of life.

Years ago, our church in Oregon sponsored a seminar series with the compelling name of “Death and Dying”. When I saw the announcement in a church newsletter, I pointed it out to Judy with the comment, “You’ll never catch me alive in that seminar”.  Of course, I thought the play on words was cute but much to my surprise, Judy looked at me and said, “We’re going!”

Needless to say, not only did we go but the experience changed our lives. We explored all the myths and realities associated with dying – the physical, psychological, and sociological patterns around it as well as the finances surrounding it.

There were a number of lessons learned that have been extremely valuable as I have counselled with hundreds of people over the years. It is valuable now as we put our “end of life” planning into place.

And most importantly, by facing those issues early, it removed the mystical fear that these mentalities are simply just part of our being human. We also know that Jesus allows us to have a healthy attitude about our own final stage of life. It frees me to look forward to that time of final transition to the eternal kingdom.

Another perspective, as I dealt with the deaths of my parents 15 years apart and the death of my brother one year after my dad. Nothing can make those events easy, but my experience allowed to deal with them in the best ways possible.

What are the experiences in your life that have prepared you for future challenges?

Mind you, you may be in one right now. We all have these undesirable experiences because that is the way God trains and prepares us, for those future challenges that lay ahead. By the time we are in our mid to late 60s we have identified the lessons learned through our youthful exuberance and bad judgment. We know about the hard lessons learned during our child-raising and career-building years.

And without question, there is both pain and much pleasure that prompts our learning during our years of marriage. I certainly have learned a lot about what not to do in mine and Judy’s 55 years of marriage. And yes, love conquers a lot as does God’s directed decision on both of our parts to “not get divorced.” Committing to be stay committed during all those times during our marriage when emotional love is not there, yet knowing that “this too shall pass”. Somewhere I read that “love is a decision” and experientially, I know that is true.

My grandfather used to ask me, “Bruce, why is experience the best teacher?” When I could not answer his question, he filled in the blank. “Because it is the most expensive”, he’d say. That teaching came when I was young and it continues to inform me today.

We are wiser when we are older because of all the lessons learned in the prior years.

Recognizing that there are three stages in retirement helps me visualize the ongoing learning process. As a matter of fact, the learning of each stage of life, including those in these 4th Quarter years, provides the platform for service to the Kingdom in each of the next stages, including the last one. When you stop learning, you die!

The river of life flows from the exploration stage of youth to the providing stage of the working years and then into the meaning and purpose years of Kingdom building.

Unfortunately, many do not see it that way. The reality is that the experiences of yesterday and today truly are the stepping stones to the action plans of tomorrow. Those action plans extend for a lifetime and not just for a season.

What we have become as a result of those experiences then guides our actions in the 4th Quarter. We reflect who we have become and who we have become reflects the decisions we’ve made at each juncture of personal choice. God has a plan for each and every stage of our life. The Kingdom impact we have is then a reflection of the lessons learned during the “doing” stages that came before.

Now is a good time for a few moments of reflection and listening to God because He has a living message for each of us.

Listen and live, learning more about your role in building his Kingdom for a lifetime!

Stay with us on the journey of life with Trusted Advice along The Way.


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