One question: What does retirement mean for you?
For me, it meant not having to work anymore. Enjoying my days doing basically nothing. Going on annual vacations—maybe even semi-annual. Taking up a leisurely hobby. Living off of my life’s savings…
Basically, everything about retirement meant freedom. And the worldly financial experts would pretty much say the same.
They would say retirement for someone my age is 67, as of today. They would say I should have at least $1 million by then. And they would say I can use it to sustain my lifestyle and relax for the rest of my life.
Now, the age you retire, whether you become a millionaire or not, and the happiness and relaxation you enjoy aren’t bad things. But I’ve learned to look at retirement differently now…
There’s a story in the Bible about a rich man, who had so much stored up for himself, that he’d run out of room to keep it all! Well, one day, he decided he’d tear down the barns he had and build larger ones in their place. And when finished, he would tell himself, “Take life easy. Eat. Drink. Be merry,” because he had plenty to keep to himself and live off of.
Unfortunately, when God heard this, He called the rich man a fool and said his life would be taken from him that night, and then whose would his belongings become?
The two main lessons I’ve learned from this parable when it comes to retirement are:
Too much of one thing is good for nothing.
There is enough time in the “rest of our life” for more than simply eating, drinking and being merry (leisure, in other words).
As far as I know, retirement is only mentioned once in the Bible. Once! And that is when the Lord declared it for the Levites at age 50, who were working on the tabernacle. Even then, God instructed that after they stopped working, they should minister to needs (Numbers 8:23-26) So, they stopped their work of building, and turned to a different line of work afterward.
That’s how retirement should be for us. We may stop doing the primary thing we called our “day job” or career; but we don’t stop being fruitful.
God wants us to enjoy our lives. That’s why in John 10:10, Jesus said,* “I come so they may have life and have it more abundantly.”* That is why there is so much guidance in His Word about wisdom (Proverbs 21:20), saving for the future and spreading among seven or eight (Ecclesiastes 11:2).
Our blog in January 2023 has been all about being intentional about the money we spend. And retirement is one reason for it. God wants us to be free from the shackles of debt. One reason? So, it won’t impact our future. And He wants us to be proactive in funding our future (retirement) by saving for it now.
But too much saving for ourselves and too much enjoyment through leisure and lack of production is good for nothing. And who says being productive can’t be enjoyable, anyway?!
Just for housekeeping purposes (knowing the state of my flock and tending to the sheep) (Proverbs 27:23), I looked at where my husband and I are financially at the beginning of the year. And according to common financial guidance, we’re behind where we should be for retirement.
Is my first instinct to say, “Whatever!”? Absolutely not! I am who I am. To not be distracted by the numbers and what experts say takes a daily renewing of my mind. And honestly… sometimes I fail. Sometimes, that daily renewal doesn’t happen.
But my Bible tells me to store up treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-21).
When it comes to managing money and possessions, all any of us could ever strive for is to do our best at practicing wisdom.
So, whether you’re 25, 45 or 65. Whether you’re eons away from retirement, knocking on its door or already in retirement…
And most importantly…
Save room for those in need; look for ways you can be fruitful no matter your stage in life; and use your experiences as a testimony to others of who God is.
After all, these just might be the biggest treasures you store up for yourself. Bigger than any nest egg you could’ve ever imagined.
*Image used with permission. *