Recently I passed a life milestone, a major milestone – retiring from my “day job.” This wasn’t like hitting age 40, 50 or 60; those are just numbers. Retiring is a significant life change, one which – as my wife likes to point out – does not affect just me.
A friend who has already experienced this passage of life told her awhile back, “retirement is a whole lot less money and a whole lot more husband!” I’m not sure which concerned Pam the most; I think it was the latter.
We are now five weeks into this new season, and we seem to be enjoying it. It’s a bit like the transition to an empty nest. After a while, it’s pretty nice!
The morning of my final day at the office I penned the following reflections in my journal.
- My daily schedule changes; it’s no longer dictated by my job.
- Who I am does not change. I am not defined by my job but by my Savior.
- No more regular paychecks from my full time job. My Source does not change.
- My availability for volunteer work, time with my wife and family, time to travel, run, and missions work increases.
- My passions haven’t changed, just my bandwidth to enjoy them.
In the remaining space I’d like to elaborate on a few of these thoughts.
My Cadence Has Changed
Life’s cadence definitely changes. The alarm only rings if I decide that I need one. I no longer have to squeeze all the yard work into weekends and evenings. Several times already while in the midst of a task I’ve decided “the rest of this can wait.”
My Identity Has Not
But while life’s cadence has changed, my identity has not. Midway through my career I discovered that my identity was not defined by my job title. So, in some ways, walking away from my career was not such a big deal. There was no sense of loss or lostness since who I am has been defined for the last 51 years by Whose I am.
My Source is the Lord
I haven’t seen a paper paycheck this millennium, but the account originating the electronic transfer to us is no longer from an employer. We now face a new set of questions. How much is enough? What will the markets do? And so on. What hasn’t changed in this new accounting is that the Lord continues to be our Source (not an employer), and our accountability remains to Him.
The Bible Never Speaks of Retirement
This past February I told my supervisor, “Work is just getting in the way of all the things I want to do.” I could have re-phrased that as “all the things I feel called to do.” The Bible never speaks of “retirement”. There’s no mention of any biblical character quitting his fishing or farming job and heading off to “Dead Sea Beach” or sailing off to some distant island with no God-inspired purpose in mind. For more on this topic I’d encourage you to read or listen to John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life.
Run to the Finish Line
My father is fond of saying, “It’s better to wear out than to rust out.” One of my life’s heroes is my maternal grandfather. At some point in his mid-80s he’d been interim pastor of a small church in southern Indiana and he told us, “I don’t think they’re looking too hard.” Five days before he passed away he delivered his final sermon. He ran all the way to the finish line.
I don’t know what the future holds or how many more productive years will be entrusted to me. What I do know is that I want to make them count for the Kingdom.