Happy Where You Are–Week 4–Retirement

THOUGHTS ON LOOKING AHEAD TO RETIREMENT

“Retirement is for the birds & I’ll just work til I drop” would best sum up my long held attitude toward how to spend my senior years…That is until recently, as I’ve moved into my mid 60’s and am finding I’m not quite as spry as I used to be. Lately I have started to think more seriously about how I might spend my time, and invest my resources to remain productive, healthy, & content over this coming life season. Fortunately I still enjoy good health, and I do love my current job as AC3’s music director, but also realize at some point in the future the time will come to turn the music leadership reins over to the next generation. So what will I do then? Will I be out of the game and watching from the sidelines, or do I have a choice to stay active and involved?

I’ve never liked our prevailing modern retirement model where one leaves the work force behind to live a life of recreation & relaxation. Certainly, I will look forward to spending more time hiking, cycling, gardening, & playing music gigs, but those activities alone won’t be enough to avoid becoming restless & bored. I believe I’ll need a bigger, more compelling reason to get out of bed every morning. My greatest fear in growing old is to not have a significant life assignment to keep me motivated & moving. I’ve seen what can happen when a man loses his purpose for living. This happened to my grandfather & dad late in their lives when both, retired, widowed, & without significant other interests, quickly descended into bad health & dementia.

So do I have any hope of avoiding the same, sad ending? I can’t say for sure, but certainly want to do everything possible to stay healthy and sharp. For guidance on this I have, of course, looked to the Bible for some instruction, but It has very little to say about retirement in general and doesn’t address our current day retirement as leisure model at all. It does, however, have a lot to say about work regardless of our age. First, we are told that work is a gift from God. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work and keep it” (Genesis 2:15) Throughout the Bible we are encouraged and instructed to be productive and work as we are able, and are reminded that we ultimately work for God. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

So continuing to work will be a big part of my plan as I move into this season of life…but what kind of work? Hopefully, it will be something that utilizes my talents, spiritual gifts & experience. Maybe it will require some retooling on my part and a willingness to try something new and different.

As for the timing, I’ll leave that to the Lord. Right now my music assignment at AC3 continues as we mentor & train our younger team members. First and foremost I’ll continue to seek the Lord’s guidance and will and will trust that He will direct me into useful service. For inspiration I aways come back to one of my favorite verses, Proverbs 3:6. “In all thy ways acknowlege Him and He will direct thy paths”. That’ll be my go-to plan as I start to chart a course into my retirement years.

Jeff Swanson
February 2019
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