Both the understanding and the application of understanding the three stages of retirement are critical for everyone regardless of where they are in any of life’s stages.
It is also critical for Christian leaders to both comprehend and embrace a different view of retirement than what our culture promotes. We are called to serve for a lifetime, not for just a season. That service takes on new and different dimensions as we move from halftime to lifetime and from 3rd to 4th Quarter.
In our last blog post, we opened up the discussion of the first stage, which is ACTIVE APPLICATION. This is the stage that starts in the mid to late 60s and continues through the mid to late 70s. This is the time where the world says “stop” but God prepares us to go! We acknowledged that during all of life’s transitions, there are elements of stopping, moving on, leaving, and changing. All of those elements are part of the transition to the next stage.
The transition to that next stage has an inherent appreciation for what has come before, and an anticipation for what lies ahead.
When we acknowledge that as followers of Jesus, we are called to ministry for a lifetime, not just for a season, our challenge then is to listen to God’s call during each stage and to acknowledge the needed preparation that has taken place during all the previous decades of our lives.
The active application of Jo Saxon’s quote still rings in my ears:
We are Uniquely Prepared and Called for a Kingdom Purpose in Each Stage of Life and Retirement.
For a number of months, I have been collecting the thoughts of others about this first stage that I call Active Application. In our last blog, we identified six characteristics that begin to bring into view the wonderful mosaic of this Active Application time of life.
1. You have the capacity to embrace the previous lessons of life.
2. You have the ability to put into practice what you have already learned and to model it for others.
3. You have the experience to understand what is applicable from those experiences and what is extraneous to the solution of any of life’s dilemmas.
4. You know how to interact with others and how to lead when appropriate.
5. You understand what productivity means and what wasting time and money means.
6. You have the energy and wisdom to prioritize opportunities.
It is fascinating to review the input and thoughts about this Active Application stage of life from a wide variety of people. Here are some of the themes that begin to emerge:
Mentorship: The importance of connection with those that are few life stages behind and investing in their lives.
Fulfilling old dreams with new time: Responding to prior longings to carry out and experience new areas of life while impacting the lives of others.
Fellowship: Connecting with family and others in new and meaningful ways.
Leadership: Applying a lifetime of skills of addressing key issues within the family, church, local society, national challenges, or issues that impact the world for Jesus.
There are many more areas to explore. Active Application is a point of convergence. It is a time for expanded focus and deliberate leadership. It is forward facing while recognizing the critical values of life’s lessons and the teaching of God in our lives. It is another opportunity to align ourselves with God’s plan for that stage of life. It is a time to embrace and experience the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.
And most pointedly it is another one of those key times of transition. If this time of life is also funded, this allows for the full freedom to respond to the callings and roles we talk about above. Future Funded Ministry and how you deal with this issue in prior life stages has a significant impact on how your time of Active Application will play out.
This life stage is a time where you can scale your influence and leverage your life to impact the Kingdom in new and different and satisfying ways.
Our next blog will introduce the next, second stage: Insightful Stewardship, Consultative Input.