3 reasons to understand “longevity”

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There will be one million people over 100 years old by 2050 in the United States.  

I can remember Willard Scott on the Today Show was excited to highlight someone who had reached this milestone.

A little background: There is a difference between “life span” and “life expectancy."  Life expectancy means the average life span for a total population. We identify this with mortality tables. These tables are used by life insurance companies to calculate the costs of insurance among other things.  Life span is the actual length of an individual’s life.

Throughout most of history, the estimated life expectancy was impacted by infant mortality plus a whole category of medical issues that can be summarized as “infections." It was not until those issues were addressed and the results minimized, that life expectancy grew much beyond the 30-40 year mark. In addition, deaths attributed to war cannot be minimized. Over five hundred thousand people, a half million, have died as a result of the Iraq war for example.

For many generations there were no grandparents as it requires three generations to be living simultaneously.  Anecdotally, I can remember growing up and hearing my parents say, “He just retired last year, and now he is dead.”  They were referring to a 65-year-old and reflecting how many people died within 1-3 years of retirement.

Let’s agree that people in the United States often live well into their eighties or nineties. A typical age for retiring from the paid workforce is 65-70. So there are fifteen to twenty years subsequent to that and those years can be divided into at least three different life stages.  We’ll detail those stages another time.

Living longer is real, living longer is relevant, living longer is important. Here are three reasons why: 

  1. Longevity is important to business and ministry.
  2. Longevity is important for friends and family.
  3. Longevity is important for the country.

Longevity is important to Business and Ministry. There are at least 3 reasons:

  1. People with specific needs creates a market for business and ministry focus.
  2. People with specific concerns and issues provides a focus for service and support.
  3. People with longer life spans are valuable resources in the workplace and volunteers for ministry.

AgeLab’s Ben Coughlin says, “Longevity will be one of the greatest drivers of innovation for the next one hundred years.”

Longevity is important for the family.  Here are two reasons why that is true:

  1. Those living through the last quarter of their life are a source of wisdom and perspective. Knowing that learning from the experience of others is less painful than the learning that comes from our experience is a valuable perspective.
  2. Those living through the last quarter of their life can provide a place of emotional refuge and support.  Much research and anecdotal evidence suggests that there are closer and often more valuable relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren than between the grandchildren and their parents.

Longevity is important for the country. Here are two reasons:

  1. The change in makeup of the country impacts public policy. Social Security is often referred to as the “Third Rail of Politics."  Tip O’Neill, Speaker of the House during the Reagan presidency, is credited with the metaphor. The third rail on an electric railway carries the power and if you touch it, you die.
  2. The seniors over retirement age, when considered as an expanding asset rather than a liability, the potential is enormous.

During our years of study about the re-definition of retirement and referring to Future Funded Ministry, we have learned a lot about what happens, or does not happen, after retirement. We have also learned a lot about the importance of individual preparation and about the importance of organizational and ministry support prior to retirement. Without preparation results are minimized. With preparation the results are maximized. This is uniquely true with regards to retirement or with the more substantive reference to Future Funded Ministry.

Be challenged to think about these issue along with me. Are you in preparation mode or simply passive about the upcoming years? How are you connecting to that definition of Future Funded Ministry as being a time of reward for past service and simultaneously becoming a stepping stone to future ministry?

Longevity is a reality. Longevity brings value. Longevity provides an opportunity to live with meaning to the end of your life. Longevity provides an opportunity to lead your ministry or organization by supporting and encouraging your staff to connect, engage, and carry out God’s plan for their lives, to the very end.

A lifetime of preparation leads to a life time of purpose.  A lifetime of purpose fulfilled, means a lifetime of meaning and joy.

Bruce Bruinsma