Monday, March 16, 2015

Is Retirement A Twilight Zone?


The Useful Retiree
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH has uncritically bought into the concept of retirement. This column and those that follow will take a critical look at this idea. 

Some have defined retirement as a twilight zone, a phase of life in which the individual is “too old to work, but too young to die.” There is some truth in this assessment. Eventually everyone becomes “too old to work,” at least full time. That is because advancing age means less energy and stamina. It means a loss of physical strength. It might also mean problems with hearing or vision. For some it might mean decreasing cognitive abilities.

But, it is also a stage of life were people are “too young to die.” One of the blessings (and also problems) with modern medicine is that it extends this period— sometimes far too long. Physically and mentally unable to work or contribute, the aging body just keeps ticking and ticking. For many “too young to die” us a euphemism for extended misery.

For example, my church just went Christmas caroling at a local “memory” facility for senior citizens. Those listening were anywhere from fifty on up. All suffered from either significant dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In each case “too old to work but too young to die was appropriate.” It was depressing because we all realized that this might someday be either us or someone we loved. A healthy fifty year old friend whispered in my ear. “My wife and I have decided we would rather ‘go out’ on our motorcycle.”

I sympathized. 

God's people need to rethink the assumption of retirement at age 65 to decades of relaxation and leisure. for those healthy enough to contribute, is this a biblical lifestyle? 

In the coming columns I want to motivate those in their thirties to prepare for retirement differently. I want to motivate those in their fifties to think about retirement differently. I also want to motivate an army of seniors to give their fourth quarter to Christ and the advancement of his kingdom. The gospel promises that they will gain their lives to the degree that they are willing to lose them. 

What are your thoughts? 

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