Each stage of life has both preparation and purpose. Each stage of life becomes a building block for what comes next. Our preparation is continuous whether we know it or not. The purpose remains constant. That purpose is the support and construction of God’s earthly Kingdom.
While we can explore the meaning and impact of all the concepts suggested in the prior paragraph, my focus here is on the disconnect between preparation and purpose, especially as we reach what the world calls retirement. We know retirement is not a biblical concept but preparation to fulfill God’s purposes certainly is.
So where is the disconnect? Think about it this way. Our lifetime is one of preparation for what comes next. When we hit our 60’s and contemplate what is next, our culture prompts two priorities:
- Have enough money
- Do nothing. Or said a little more gently, you only do the things that will bring you pleasure.
The biggest flaw is that the purpose has no meaning. True meaning only comes when:
- You are involved “outside” of yourself
- Someone is impacted other than yourself
- You make a difference in someone else's life
Relationships are the keys to happiness and meaning. This is true in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of our life.
The disconnect for so many happens in our 60’s. This is when we are as prepared as we are going to be for what comes next. Instead of applying that preparation for a meaningful purpose, we just stop so we can focus on ourselves and doing little or nothing with meaning and purpose.
What’s the phrase? "I’m going to retiree and then I’m going to die." Or, " I’m going to retire and I have no clue as to what I’m going to do." Now that is a disconnect. A disconnect because the real questions are:
- Based on my preparation and proclivity, how am I going to further the Kingdom now? How am I going to find meaning with purpose?
- Both what I love to do and my passion for doing it suggests that my purpose for the next phase of life will be……!
One result of the disconnect is that all the preparation was for nothing… literally. It suggests that either God does not have a plan for the next life stage or you have decided not to follow it. Either way it diminishes you personally.
Here is a quick reminder to help bridge the gap between preparation and purpose. This reminder reiterates the three stages of “retirement” (Future Funded Ministry). Being faithful to God’s call on your life during these three stages will bring meaning and fulfill God’s purpose.
Here are the stages:
- 67-77 Active Application
- 78-87 Insightful Stewardship
- 87 > Reflective sharing
God has a purpose for each stage and for each of us. He uniquely and individually prepares us for that time. He promises to strengthen and uphold us during those times.
Here are examples of all three stages:
Active Application: Regardless of the politics, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are examples.
Insightful Stewardship: Staying with politics, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove come to mind.
Reflective Sharing: Billy Graham and Jimmie Carter to name a few.
These are just examples of how you can help build the Kingdom and use your gifts, your preparation, to make a difference during each and every stage. Just knowing that is true may be an encouragement to sons and daughters as they support aging parents. Just knowing this is true may be an encouragement to you as you are approaching your mid to late 60’s. Just knowing this is true may be an encouragement to all those wives who are concerned about a retiring spouse getting underfoot. It’s not the end, it is the beginning of an important and fruitful time of life.
Let me know your story so we can encourage others.
- Bruce Bruinsma