Should Retirement Be The Goal of Life?

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Do You Want To Retire Early?

The North American Life Trajectory: School. Work. Play.

A friend was recently sharing some of his impressions after reading a book, but I forget the title.  The book introduced the three linear main stages of the Western life – school (learn), work, and play.  Typically children go to school from ages 5 – 21.  From there, they join the work force for a period of approximately forty years.  Then remaining years of life are the years where we peacefully reap the rewards by kicking back and relaxing.  School. Work. Play. 

The book challenges this assumption saying we should do all of these things simultaneously, not separately.  I absolutely love that idea.  My personal philosophy is to work hard and play hard.  I believe God gave life as an event to be experienced, not a task to be endured. 

In a culture where time moves faster than a speeding bullet, if you blink your eyes your life will pass you by.  I refuse to be part of a culture where I am completely defined by what I accomplish, attain, and build. I believe the Sabbath principle is valid today.  The Sabbath principle is that God is powerful enough that he can take care of the events of the world for a day without my help (thank you very much). 

learnworkplay circle

Are you saving up all your fun for retirement?  Have you done all your learning?  Is your life shaping up to be three completely separate compartments on a linear line – learn, work, play?

Enjoy Retirement Living Today

All life, including retirement years, should include aspects of learning, working, and playing.

The question of whether a Christian should retire depends almost exclusively on how one defines ‘retire’.  To retire could mean to formally end all ties with a company to allow an optimal amount of time for ministry and assistance – all with your own financing to cover expenses.  You are now a freelance worker for God and all your expenses are not passed on to the recipient.  If this is how you define retirement, I would say go for it. 

  • I was visiting with a man in his late seventies.  He credits his good health and energy to reading.  He says it keeps him sharp and invigorates him.  By the way, he still works part time. 
  • I know another man in his late 70s who spends the majority of his time taking meals to shut ins, doing church visitation, and offering a hand whenever there is a need. 
  • I met a husband and wife who spend six months a year traveling overseas to visit with missionaries, encourage local missionary works, and to offer helpful seminars.

All of these men are working, learning, and playing.

To retire could mean to formally end all ties with a company to allow an optimal amount of rest and time period of unproductive living.  You have given your time to God and others and now this is your time for yourself.  I think this view of retirement robs God of a wonderful resource that he could be using for his kingdom work. 

Instead, I suggest you live every day for the glory of God.  Mix elements of learning, working, and playing into each day.  While you might find that work wears you out today, you might find that tomorrow work reenergizes you. 

Retirement Planning: More Than Money and IRA’s

When you plan for retirement begin to think about what you would like to do.  How can God use your time for his Kingdom?  Even though I am not completely sure what retirement will look like down the road, I am convinced that I want to be fully flexible to be used by God.  In order to help accomplish that goal I  take a portion of my income today and save it for retirement needs in the future. 

When it comes to retirement do not sacrifice everything today for the sake of tomorrow.  Instead, live in the glory of God each day by learning, working, and playing.  When the years of retirement present themselves embrace them as an opportunity to seek a new role in God’s kingdom.  Perhaps, though, if you embrace the learn-play-work cycle, retirement might not be any different than the other stages of life.

Do you think it is possible to live a cyclical learn, work, play pattern, or are we confined to the linear school, work, play pattern?  What are you doing to keep a healthy balance of all three?


  1. says

    I think if we learned to “number our days” as the Psalmist asked God to help him with we would begin to see that we give our best to every endeavor we have and learn to enjoy life more.

    When we have a “life is temporary, eternity is infinite” mentality and begin to live for that day rather than this day we start to savor the little things of life – even down to the hot cup of coffee we have in the morning and we realize it is all for God’s glory.

    He’s created all this – even work – for our enjoyment and when we enjoy it fully we bring Him more glory!
    .-= Jason @ Redeeming Riches´s last blog ..Should You Wait to Give Until You Have Enough Money? =-.

    • Craig says

      Do you mean to say I might not live forever? Yes, we should do everything to the glory of God. Especially when drinking a cup of tea in the morning (I don’t drink coffee).

  2. says

    Excellent points, Craig. This really got me to thinking how we need to carefully consider our definitions, ideas, and purposes for retirement before we start planning. Savings goals for someone who never plans to retire will be quite different from someone who plans to do full-time missionary work supported entirely by their own (God’s) money. The same is true for non-Christians. You really need to think about what kind of retirement you want and how much it will take to support that. Just following conventional advice without thought is a recipe for disappointment.
    .-= Paul Williams´s last blog ..Christian Personal Finance Blogs =-.

    • Craig says

      Sorry for making you think over the holiday season. I’m glad you mentioned that “following conventional advice without thought is a recipe for disappointment”. I think too many people just follow some game plan (often that they don’t even understand). You first step should be deciding how God wants to use you and then fill in the gaps from there. As always, thanks for an insightful comment.

  3. Phil Bullock says

    Craig, I really like how you approached this subject. As I look forward to my retirement from my present job in the next few years, I think about what I would like to do during that part of my life. We would like to do some traveling and where ever we go, I would like to do some teaching and helping churches where ever we may be. To me, you don’t retire from serving God!

    • Craig says

      Thanks for your comment. I hope you take your son-in-law and daughter with you when you travel :). I completely agree that we never retire from severing God.

  4. says

    A friend and I had a discussion about retirement one day and weather or not it was even Biblical in concept. I think the interesting point is that if you are walking in Gods will would you ever want to quit? If you career isn’t your calling, well thats another discussion, but even if you leave your job, the question is what does God have for you next? Once you find that and are actively doing Gods will, the question is, are you retired?
    .-= DiscipleshipGuy´s last blog ..10 Ways to accomplish your new years goals =-.

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