2 Stories That Might Explain Why I Am Afraid Of Retirement?

Story #1: Today, I am going to a ceremony at the Missouri Supreme Court to honor my dad’s contribution to the court over 40 years of service. His portrait will be displayed alongside a handful of other Missourians who made a significant and lasting impact in the judicial system.

My dad loved his work. He was the consummate deal maker and his gifts were aptly suited for his position in state government where he was able to bring people together to accomplish important things that made a real difference. It would have been very difficult for him to leave his work at any age and under any set of circumstances. At the time he was working, the state of Missouri had a program that encouraged people to remain in their job by offering them a better retirement package the longer they stayed. Dad said that he was going to max out his retirement money and then he’d leave and enjoy the things he hadn’t been able to do. But before he was able to retire and “enjoy the good life” he was showing signs of dementia. Before he had a chance to leave his career on his terms, he had to leave for health reasons. Before he had a chance to enjoy the money he had saved up, his family was spending it on his care. Before he was able to reconnect with people during his “golden years”, his health had deteriorated, his years on Earth were up, and he had passed away.

Story #2: From time to time I talk to other family members on the phone who are in the retirement years and hear about how they are keeping themselves busy. I never get done with those conversations looking forward to retirement. Is that because I’m too Type A or wrongly define success by my achievements or have some personal hang up that keeps me from enjoying puttering around the house? Maybe. I guess that I’m just not convinced that when a person hits a certain age, they can no longer make a difference.

A few years ago I read a biography of Charles Hodge (1797-1878), one of America’s most respected theologians of his generation. Here’s a paragraph from the introduction…

“When people reach their seventies, they often think their work is done. Not so with Hodge. His last years were among this most productive as he sat ensconced in his study, wielding his favorite pen to compose literally thousands of manuscript pages, which would eventually become his monumental Systematic Theology and his incisive What is Darwinism?”

Why do we think that when a person is older that they can no longer make a difference or make a significant contribution? Where did we get the idea that when a person is 65 or 70 that they necessarily need to move out of the way and create space for the next generation? In Psalm 31:15 David says to God, “My times are in your hands.” As long as God gives us time, shouldn’t we use it to serve him?

  • At 65 Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of England, and for the next five years led the Western world to freedom.
  • At 69 English writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson began his last major work, The Lives of the English Poets.
  • At 69 Ronald Reagan became the oldest man ever sworn in as President of the United States. He was reelected at 73.
  • At 70 Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence.
  • At 77 John Glenn became the oldest person to go into space.
  • At 77 Grandma Moses started painting.
  • At 78 Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa.
  • At 82 Winston Churchill wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
  • At 88 Michelangelo created the architectural plans for the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
  • At 89 Albert Schweitzer ran a hospital in Africa.
  • At 89 Arthur Rubinstein performed one of his greatest recitals in Carnegie Hall.
  • At 93 Strom Thurmond, the longest-serving senator in U.S. history, won reelection after promising not to run again at age 99.
  • At 93 P.G. Wodehouse worked on his 97th novel, got knighted, and died.

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Jane Fiore said:

    I look forward to retirement to do things that will make a difference … Things I can’t do while sitting At a desk at work ! I don’t consider retirement a new “beginning ” not an end 🙂

  2. Joan Huhn said:

    I have been so interested to experience this growing invisibility. It is real.

  3. Mona Pargee said:

    Retirement can be a wonderful time of in one’s life when we are willing to adopt a biblically-informed perspective about running our race as commanded by Paul in the Scripture. Take a look around our church, our community and our nation and you will see a virtual army of retired people serving God and their fellow man in ways they were not able to while they were working and raising a family. Many of those who are enjoying their lives during retirement are doing so precisely because they understand the blessing that comes with continuing their race as long as God gives them the grace to do so. Interestingly, I just don’t see or know many unhappy or fearful retirees walking around at The Crossing. Instead, I witness abundant joy, thankfulness and, willing hearts anxious to serve. God is truly merciful and gracious.

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