Retirement and the Financial Crash

I was listening to NPR today and the commentator was interviewing people regarding their responses to the recent Wall Street crash.  What adjustments would they have to make in their lives and expectations as a result?

The primary theme in their responses went something like this:  “The life of leisure I am anticipating in retirement may be delayed or may not happen.  My ability to quit my job, play golf, travel, lay on the beach and finally enjoy life is in jeopardy.”

I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What’s wrong with this picture?”  Plenty:

  1. Where do we get this idea of “retiring?”  While it is deeply ingrained in the culture, I can’t find any biblical rational for such a concept.

  2. Play golf, travel, and enjoy life?   What a prescription for self-absorbed misery!  Rather than giving oneself to significance in the latter half of life, such responses reflect a selfish sense of entitlement that pervades our society.

  3. It is a sad commentary on work that so many people simply can’t wait to quit.  Rather than investing a lifetime of wisdom, time and talent in ways uniquely suited to one’s gifts and calling, way too many people endure jobs that suck the very life out of them.  They only stick it out in an 8-5 for the sake of a paycheck.  Tragic.

In Clinton’s leadership emergence theory, the end of life should be characterized by one’s “ultimate contribution.”  This is lived out in “convergence” and ultimately what he describes as “after-glow.”  Neither remotely resembles the culture’s concept of retirement.

Contrary to retirement—which is a stifling, dehumanizing and killing concept—I want to go out with my boots on and with my foot on the accelerator.  I think that’s the way God designed us as beings made in the imago dei rather than sliding into irrelevance with a life that does not finish well.

4 Responses to “Retirement and the Financial Crash”

  1. Brian N. Says:

    I could not agree more, Sam. Well said.
    Hope you are well.

  2. Tom Middleton Says:

    Karin’s Grandfather is my living example of what you are describing. A man called into ministry in his thirties after being a grapefarmer immigrant from communist Russia. He earned a Masters in Philosophy in his fifties, then once he retired from a full-time pastorate role, used his Masters to teach at a Christian college, while filling in as an itinerant pastor for small churches in California’s central valley. He also managed small rental houses where he looked after struggling families using his resources and connections in the local community to provide low income housing and domestic care. He did all this after “retirement”. He turns 95 next month, walks everyday, pays his bills online, has a mobile cell phone and re-married a few years ago after his wife of 60 years died. He continues to be a Godly inspiration and example to all who know him. May our lives follow in this Saint’s footsteps.

  3. Stephen Irwin Says:

    To reference John Piper (from Don’t Waste Your Life)...if they can’t go to the beach they won’t even have shells to show God!

  4. David Demeter Says:

    For many, quitting the daily grind of physical labor and retiring is a necessity. The body simply can no longer perform the required tasks.

    Beyond that, most of the leaders in our corporate culture want to put the elderly out to pasture, so that they can make room for a younger generation of workers.

    While I applaud your perspective and desire never to retire, I plan to relocate to Uruguay sometime within the next 5 years…and retire!

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