Retirement Is Not Biblical

Lazy retired man watching TV

A different approach to life’s later seasons

We were created to work. It’s part of God’s plan for us. When God created Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden, he told him to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). Period. Not work until he was 65. Not work until he had saved enough money to retire. God just said to work.

The Bible doesn’t address our modern-day concept of retirement, but it still offers plenty of guidance for how to approach this season. Over and over, the Bible praises work and condemns laziness. To define retirement as a time when you can stop working and cease being productive is completely unbiblical—and not very enjoyable in the long term.

Helping clients with retirement planning is a big part of my role as a wealth advisor, but there’s so much more to retirement than money. Certainly a key part of retirement planning is financial. We want to be a blessing not a burden to our families and communities. We want to have the resources to maintain our lifestyles and continue to give generously to our churches and charities.

But more important is the issue of what you’re going to do with your time. It’s essential that we don’t simply retire from something—we need to retire to something. Don’t just quit your job or sell your business. Instead, transition into something different that you’re going to love as much or more.

We often don’t recognize until we retire how much of our identity and community comes from our work. When we leave that, we might enjoy golfing and fishing for a few weeks or months, but then what? What’s our reason for getting out of bed in the morning?

A better approach to that later life season is not to walk away from your work but to be pulled into a new season with something even more meaningful and purposeful than what you’ve been doing.

Think about some of the best-known servants of God in the Bible. Even at very advanced ages, they never stopped working for the Lord. Think about the people you know who are in their senior years. When you look at the ones who live each day in deep joy, what do they have in common? They all do some sort of work.

After Billy Graham stopped public preaching due to his failing health, he continued serving the Lord as long as he was able. He once said this about retirement: “What will you do with the remaining years of your life, once you retire? Will you pursue a life of self-centered indulgence, living only for yourself? If so, you will end up restless, bored and empty.”

It’s okay to leave our jobs, but what are we leaving them for? Make it about reassignment, not retirement. Start a new career or a new business. Serve by volunteering. Share your knowledge and experience by mentoring individuals or taking on leadership roles with nonprofits that can use your skills.

Take your gifts and invest them in something your heart cries out to support. And thank God that you are able to do it.

Related: Why Haven’t You Retired?

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