Have you ever felt like a fish out of water, not knowing if you can survive in an uncomfortable place with no support? That’s the feeling of retirement. So, I ask you, “Is there life after retirement?”
While attending Baptist Bible College in the mid-seventies, I owned a roofing company with my twin brother, Ken. Near graduation, we roofed a house where a man was retiring from the railroad. His wife was less than amiable and almost intolerable to be around. There was an amazing amount of stress about what he was going to do during his post-retirement years. Well, we finished the roof the day of his retirement and came back the next Monday to be paid, but there was no one home. This absence continued for over a week. Finally, we found his wife at home and she told us that he could not face the emptiness of retirement and gave up on life completely. We couldn’t figure out if he took his life or had a heart attack, but whichever way it was, he couldn’t cope with the prospects of retirement with his wife. Sadly, this is the result of many facing this last stage of life whether in the pastorate or not.
For most of us in ministry, our identity is bound up in who we are. We find ourselves asking, “What am I going to do with myself now?” But the larger, more important question is, “Who am I now?” America’s evangelist, Billy Graham once said, “Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life.”
Will your retirement years be filled with excitement and new adventures and challenges? The truth is, if you don’t plan for this new season in your life, you will experience a dismal, slow decline that will lead to a premature death.
Eric Thurman in his book, Thrive in Retirement, emphasizes three major directives to have a happy and fulfilling retirement.
The first, and most important is to have a definite PURPOSE in your life of retirement. Of the three major directives for an exciting retirement, purpose is the most important. The Apostle Paul talked about “pressing toward the mark,” or “this one thing I do…” God sees the importance of being part of something that is bigger than yourself. It is vital that you redefine yourself and find new and inspiring goals.
NOTE: I found an amazing help online to seek out my newfound purpose. Go to: 20Quiz.com it will prompt thought-provoking insight.
The second directive is to have PLEASURE in your retirement years by sorting out what you enjoy doing. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” None of us know how long we are going to live, so feeling alive and enjoying life is more important than the length of our days. Please understand that this doesn’t just happen.
Never forget that we become weary with life only when we are idle. Get involved in activities that bring happiness and fulfillment. Complacency is dangerous. The opposite is also true, if we are only seeking pleasure in an unending vacation, monotony, and meaninglessness will soon overwhelm us.
The final directive is to have PEACE or contentment as you live out this last phase of your life. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Solomon says that your mind determines the course of your life.
The folk proverb says, “Many people would rather be certain they’re miserable than risk being happy.” Most of the prospective that we claim, whether good or bad, is determined by our attitude.
My mother, Norma Gillming went through years and years of pain suffering from rheumatoid arthritis starting at age 28. She also experienced two major bouts with cancer, yet, she chose to ignore the pain and choose happiness over complaining.
The ancient Roman thinker Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “A happy life consists in tranquility of mind.”
A fulfilling joy in this last stage of our lives does not happen by chance. You must actively pursue (1) Purpose, (2) Pleasure, and (3) Peace.