~By: Sylvia Reynolds-Blakely~
I have been looking forward to retirement for quite some time. Actually, when my parents retired in 1979, the year I graduated from high school, I wanted to retire too. Well, I didn’t know anyone who’d gone straight from high school to retirement, but a girl can have goals, right?! It wasn’t that I had no ambition. And, it wasn’t that I minded work and the pleasures and profits it could bring. What I didn’t like, and what I’ve never liked, was the fact that work seemed to take precedence over just about everything else in the lives of most of the adults I knew. I saw families neglected, special occasions ignored, church skipped, and vacations missed all because many adults in my life did not or could not balance work life with the rest of life. There always seemed to be so much more that most adults were missing; things that a job or even a successful career could not fill. I didn’t want to miss out on those other things.
I am not naïve. I am only two generations away from family members whose only work options were sharecropping someone else’s land, which was back breaking work with little to no reward and no foreseeable future. In fact, my own parents were the product of the Great Migration from the South to the North in search of decent paying, respected work. Because of their sacrifices, I was blessed to be able to work where I wanted, when I wanted, and to fully negotiate the terms of said work until such a time as it was fit for me to move on.
God set about crafting career choices that grew and nurtured both my teacher’s spirit and my servant’s heart. It took awhile to find my niche, but as each old position fell away, new opportunities appeared that always, always, always provided growth and valuable experience. If you believe as I do, that God is intentional, then you can trust that each and every job you’ve ever held has helped or is helping to equip you for the Kingdom work that awaits you at retirement.
So, when you step away from a job or career that seemingly defined you, who do you become? Deep down, I’ve always known the answer to that question. This is the sweet chapter of life I’ve been searching for; the one where you get to use all the experience you've gained to continue partnering with God to build His Kingdom during your season of retirement. There is no better trajectory for a child of God than to be available to fulfill His calling on your life. How do you do that without hesitation? Here are a few suggestions:
Know who you are in Christ and what He is calling you to do. Fast and pray and ask God to reveal the work that only you can complete. Do the work to discover your spiritual gift(s). Holy Spirit will not hesitate to reveal an assignment and a plan if you seek His counsel. (Romans 12:3-8)
Become a mentor to young people within your sphere of influence. They need you more than you could possibly know. You will be sowing seeds into the Kingdom that will bear fruit for many years to come. (1st and 2nd Timothy)
Build relationships with ministry leaders whom you admire, and shadow them. They always need willing and available workers—you can add your layer of expertise and polish to what they are trying to accomplish for God. (Acts 18: 24-28)
Learn to “let your yay be yay and your nay be nay.” In other words, guard against over-extending yourself, which renders you ineffective for God. Listen to the voice of Holy Spirit to guide you. (Matthew 5:37)
Be willing to take on something new if God is calling you to it. He will continue to equip you and empower you in your new task and responsibilities as you whole-heartedly work for His glory. (Ephesians 4: 11-15; Isaiah 41:10)
Be prepared to accept your assignment as a watchman. Because of your experienced years on the planet, you may see danger before it arrives. Don't hesitate to convey a warning. (Isaiah 62:6-7)
Do not let age, gender, station, etc. define you or hinder you in the work you are being called to do. (See the stories of Abram, Sarai, Noah in Genesis)
Ask Holy Spirit to show you where to harvest no matter where you roam. You have more free time to be out and about amongst non-believers. Stay prayed up and ready to share the Gospel. (Luke 10: 2-12)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a