One of the things I have observed living in Washington, D.C. is that it is a very transient city.
People come and go due to careers in government, working on government contracts, or working in the military. Because of this, you hear the terms “deployment,” “posting,” “assignment,” “contracted,” “stationed,” (which are all temporary) and then “retirement”—even if it’s only a retirement from a first career.
For this reason, the language of retirement has caught my attention recently and urged me to consider it in light of God’s call on our lives.
A Generation in Need
It is God’s call on our lives—our whole lives—that makes me see the idea of retirement as a myth. Now more than ever, I believe we are in a time where we are being stirred to action to use the gifts God has placed in us, no matter what stage of life we are in.
In Malachi 4:6, God says:
He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents, or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.
This, I believe, is something the Spirit of God is awakening in our day. The reason is that many people in positions of spiritual leadership today are largely fatherless. If not abandoned by their own fathers, there is an absence of fathering. Within the church, this has led to many living with an orphaned spirit, as there has been no biblical model of fathering to mentor, instruct, and teach people the truth of the father’s heart and his kingdom.
So, our heavenly father is currently speaking to a generation of fathers and mothers to arise and shine and take their place to parent a fatherless generation regardless of our age or stage in life.
Inner Renewal Despite Physical Decline
Not only is there great need around us, but we have access to an incredible source of strength to meet that need. In 2 Corinthians 4:16, Paul says, though we are wasting away, dying outwardly, we are daily being renewed inwardly.
In other words, we are not to think that just because outwardly we age and our bodies eventually die that inwardly we should be experiencing the same thing. The opposite is true. Inwardly, we can experience renewal and breathe in new life—partaking in a livelier, fresher, revived outlook on life. We can have greater levels of passion, zeal, spiritual energy, wiser insights, and clearer strategies. This inner revival is made available to us and can be taken hold of from within as the work of the Holy Spirit.
I do not dismiss the importance of planning for our later years, but I believe that if we only focus on slowing down, we miss out on an upgrade. Seeing life through the truth of what Jesus came to do in reconciling us to the father and to his kingdom not only changes our perspective but totally reorients our perspective.
Retirement is an opportunity for a redeployment, a recalibration, a reset, revival, reform, and a new trajectory.
For many, the thought of getting fired up again can feel too much like hard work. Seeking to animate what has become seemingly lifeless and visionless seems pointless. Many who are retired simply cannot imagine themselves moving out again into the wild world of life. Lack of energy, zeal, vision, passion may all be factors. Some feel they no longer have anything to contribute and may have lost their sense of value or worth.
When we see our worth only in what we do or in a worldly definition of success, we can fall into the trap and evil lie of not having any worth. This lie paralyzes good people.
But, with God, nothing is impossible. Relying on and walking with the Holy Spirit can ignite even the soggiest of souls and the driest of dreams.
A Radical Reset May Be Just What You Need
Recently, at the ripe age of 50, I underwent my own “reset,” which led to a revival in my life.
It was not an identity or mid-life crisis. It was a belief-system, a way-of-thinking, and a trajectory crisis. I was not thinking about retirement, but it was a time and place that necessitated a change. I thank God for it because if I had continued in the mindset and momentum I was in, I fear where that would have led me and others.
After a passionate 27 years of serving the Lord, leading and planting churches, schools, businesses, and ministries, I discovered my trajectory needed to be realigned with kingdom truth.
Moving my family to the U.S. from South Africa, God said to us that we are not going to do what we have always done. All our defaults were challenged. Our abilities, giftings, experiences, accomplishments—everything—was challenged, even our resources. What we were left with was just us. No home, no money, no career, no backup. We had to be reinvented. First by submitting ourselves to God, and second, by putting our hand to things we had never done before. All we had to rely on was who he is and secondly who we are in him.
Through this process, my passion has become encouraging those considering retirement to instead consider a redirection—to imagine taking what they have learned in life, career, and business and transferring it to the next generation. Investing it as a part of their legacy, influence, and impact in life.
Engaging everyday life with this new perspective brings us into purposeful living, having an impact on generations to come.