Thursday, April 20, 2017

Retiring – or Re-firing?

Three months ago, I “retired.” After 15 years with Leaders Legacy, and 30 years before that with community newspapers and two marketplace ministries – CBMC and CBMC International, it made sense to launch a new season for my life and career.

Retirement and a hammock. To borrow from
an old Peggy Lee song, "is that all there is?"
Interestingly, my “life manual” – the Bible – says very little about retirement, at least in the way many of us think of it. From Genesis to Revelation, there’s absolutely nothing about quitting work to spend the rest of one’s life playing golf (or shuffleboard), traveling the countryside in the ole Winnebago, or simply rocking time away until someone decides we’re off our rocker.

The only direct reference to retirement in the Scriptures is found in Numbers 8:24-26, which speaks exclusively of the Levites who served as priests in the tabernacle: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work….”

There you have it, everything the Bible teaches about retirement. The term “retire” appears elsewhere, referring to sleep, or withdrawing from an area, but it seems God doesn’t think working for a long time and getting older justifies “retiring” as we typically consider it.

Does that mean it’s wrong to step away from the daily grind and start collecting Social Security, a pension, or an annuity – reaping the fruits of one’s labors? No, but as the old TV commercial used to say, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

We hear a lot about conserving our natural resources. And I wholeheartedly concur. But what greater resource do we have than the accumulated wisdom and experience of older individuals who have learned much through their careers, as well as the process of everyday life? To withdraw from daily living to focus solely on oneself, failing to be good stewards in sharing with others the great lessons life’s journey has taught us – that doesn’t seem right.

As 2 Timothy 2:2 declares, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” This biblical admonition urges us to “pay it forward” – and what better time for doing that than when we can take a break from the rat race of the workplace, or at least slow down the treadmill?

And just because someone qualifies for retirement benefits and can stop fretting over punching a timeclock – at least as often – that doesn’t mean they should cease making positive contributions to the world surrounding us. It might be an ideal time to “reinvent” ourselves and do some things we’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of job obligations.

When I talked to a friend about my thoughts on retiring, explaining I planned to continue doing what I feel I do best – writing and editing – but in a different context, he wisely observed, “Well, it sounds like you’re not retiring. You’re simply re-firing.” I liked that. That’s basically what I had in mind.

Over a long career as a journalist I’ve figured out what I do best and enjoy the most. I’m also aware of a few things – dreams or aspirations – I’ve yet to fulfill. So rather than resting on my laurels (or anything else), I’ve launched a little business enterprise for the first time, ReadyWriter Ink.

I’ve always worked for a business or an organization, so this is my first time on my own. At the same time, I’m still not working just for myself. Because, as Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

In fact, the name ReadyWriter Ink was inspired by Psalm 45:1, which says in part, “…I recite my composition concerning the King. My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”

So, I don’t envision “retirement,” in the conventional sense, in my future – as long as my mind continues to work (which some already debate) and God keeps giving me ideas to write about. I’m not planning to buy one of those rocking chairs that decorate the porch at Cracker Barrel. I have no intention of taking up golf lessons, going fishing, or staring at the TV watching a baseball game ooze along at its snail’s pace.

I’m eager to see how my “re-firement” unfolds. I have some plans in mind, but as I’ve learned over the years, God’s plans are often different – and always better. There’s a season for everything, Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, and it will be fun seeing what this new one ultimately looks like.

How about you? Have you been giving any thought to retiring – I mean, re-firing?


Anonymous said...

Bob, as a contemporary of yours, I am faced with the retirement "dilemma." I like the term re-fire. It certainly causes me to reconsider my options and View this phase of my life differently. Thank you for giving me a fresh perspective.

Bob Tamasy said...

Thank you!