What is retirement? I think retirement is that season in our lives when we finally learn how to rest in God as we do what he has called us to do. I believe that when we do what God has called us to do we live passionately from our hearts. Therefore, is there really such a thing as retirement? Perhaps, not in the true sense of the word. To work is a part of our nature as human beings. It keeps us alive physically, mentally and spiritually. For the meaning of “work” refers to any activity involving physical, mental or spiritual effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
Why retirement is really about “paying it forward”
At age 52, Eleanor Workman began a career in Mariani, Haiti. She founded an orphanage, school, dormitories, church and offices to help the children of Haiti physically, mentally and spiritually. Currently, in her 90’s, Eleanor has physically slowed down, but her passion to help the children of Haiti continues. Many, like Eleanor, after retiring from the workforce may find themselves as volunteers for various charity organizations. A report from The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research found “over the past two decades, a growing body of research indicates that volunteering provides not just social benefits, but individual health benefits as well. This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” It appears as if Shirley Chisolm was right: “service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.”
Why the “mindset of retirement” is unhealthy for the body, mind and spirit
It is a privilege to be alive and to be blessed with life and health. Caring for our bodies, however, is also the lease we pay for living in “this house” called a body. Paul makes it clear that the body belongs to Christ because it was bought with a price—his blood. We are responsible for taking care of our bodies physically, mentally and spiritually. The bottom line “the work” never ends: “By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).
(i)Physically-Therefore, exercise is a mindset not just an action. For the duration of our lives exercise will be required. Wanting that beautiful physique may be a desirable goal now, but as life continues the importance of moving and exercising overshadows it. Movement keeps the life flowing through our veins. It prevents the hinges called joints from becoming rusty and squeaky.
Good nutrition is as equally important. I heard my 81 year old mother say the other day that she doesn’t feel right when she eats something that is unhealthy. The body grows in demand for optimum fuel as its fixtures require more attention and care. What is significant requires us to pay attention. What is important will eventually become urgent. If we are not working hard in taking care of the body now, we will undoubtedly pay the price in the form of costly medical bills or a shortened life span.
(ii) Mentally-Engaging in aerobic (e.g. swimming, walking, biking) and anaerobic exercises (e.g. weight training, body weight exercises) is good for the body and mind. For if the body feels good as a result of exercise (work), the mind functions better. Also focused attention exercises, such as scriptural meditation, integrate the mind and the spirit. The mind is the gateway to the spirit and the means of spiritual transformation.
(iii) Spiritually-For believers, the renewing of the mind is the process of becoming like Christ. It requires a transformation. Brain scans can now show how the brain changes as a result of prayer and meditation. Imagine what happens when prayer is fused with the reading and the meditation of God’s living word. We have to work hard to cultivate a spiritually enriched life. We are encouraged to be students of the word, to pray without ceasing and to meditate on God’s words day and night. It is God’s spirit that renews our thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4:23 NLV), but it is our faith mixed with our efforts that has to be added: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).
We are God’s workmanship, created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Let’s do everything for the honor and the glory of God. Let’s connect with each other, help and serve each other . Let’s care for God’s temple, so that we can be used to fulfill God’s will on this earth as long as we have breath in our bodies.