As a financial advisor Greenville SC, I get the opportunity to work with many different people as they get closer to the “retirement” stage of their life. Some are excited about the days of retirement. Some anxiously await retirement because they don’t know if they are financially secure. Others fear the unknown of how their time will be spent.
Billy Graham wrote the book “Nearing Home” at the age of 92. Some of you are frowning now because of the title of this book. Of course, he is writing about his experiences and his later years in life before he goes to his heavenly home. He does a great job of framing how our perspective should be as we look toward retirement or are already in retirement.
It’s not too late!
He first outlays the many people in the Bible that God used to do great things late in their life. Noah, Abram, Moses and Joshua were all in their “old age” before God called them to do great things. Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t have John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, until they were in their late years. Paul, arguably the greatest apostle of all time, described himself as “an old man” when writing from jail. God can use us to do great things no matter what our age.
Old age may have its limitations and challenges. In spite of them, our later years can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling of our lives.
Don’t retire from life!
A couple purchased a condo in the seaside town where they had been vacationing for years. The plan was to retire in the next few years, sell their house and move 1,200 miles to begin their retirement years.
As Dr. Graham wrote, “They lived it up: long walks beside the crashing waves, easygoing life of a small town, the freedom to set their own schedules and do whatever they wanted. Everything was exactly the way they had always envisioned it. This was living at its best!
“By the fifth week, however, unease began to creep over them and they knew they had made a mistake. Watching the waves crash against the rocks wasn’t enough to fill the void left by their former lives 1,200 miles away. After their few weeks of rest, frequenting all the restaurants, coffee shops and stores began to lose its charm. ‘Is this all we’re going to be doing for the next 20 or 30 years?’ they asked. ‘What were we thinking to move away from our children and grandchildren?’”
The retired executive took a part-time consulting job with his former company and commented, “I thought I was ready for retirement, but I just didn’t think it through.”
Retirement is quite different than a two-week vacation. It is a huge life change.
Take your “retirement dreams” and fast forward five, 10 and even 20 years. Try to envision how your life may be in that situation. If you are considering retirement, test drive it first. Take an extended vacation or leave of absence from your job. Make it a “staycation.” If you are considering a geographic move, then start with a long term stay in the area, such as renting a house or condo for a month or two.
Talking with a financial advisor Greenville SC can help you make a more comprehensive plan for retirement.
And focus on others.
It is important to stay active for our physical, mental and emotional well-being. The happiest people in retirement that I know are the ones who are focused on others. In some way, they spend much of their time helping others. Don’t get me wrong, they have fun time for themselves. But their days are not self-centered. They get the greatest joy from helping others.
Retirement for Billy Graham
Dr. Graham said that the decision to step aside from life’s work of preaching was not an easy one. He said he would only retire if God decided to retire him. He started to see that he did not have the physical stamina to keep the same heavy scheduled load he once did. Over time, he reduced the number of days his crusades lasted. He slowly turned over the day-to-day administrative responsibilities to his son Franklin. In 2001, at the age of 83, the board voted Franklin as the president of his ministry.
Until his late 90s, Dr. Graham continued to write books and articles and preach on occasion.
Retirement and You
Dr. Graham states, “The most important advice I can give you is this: seek God’s will concerning your retirement. It may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make, so why not pray and seek God’s will about it, committing it into the hands of the One who knows what is best for you and your family?”
On pages 29 to 30 of his book, he adds: “Don’t enter retirement without a careful forethought and planning or without the conviction that God is leading you, for the Bible says, ‘A prudent man gives thought to his steps.’” (Proverbs 14:15)
Finding the Key
On page 44 of his book, he states, “The questions we must face are these: Will we seek God’s plan for our retirement years? Or will we drift aimlessly along assuming our usefulness is over and spending the rest of our days trying to squeeze as much enjoyment as we can out of life? Admittedly His plan for us may change as their years pass and our circumstances change, but no matter how far along we are on life’s road, our constant goal should be seeking God’s direction for what lies ahead. Remember: His way is always, always best.”
The Bottom Line
Dr. Graham’s plan was to continue as long as God would physically let him, or as he said, “God decided to retire me.” While he did have social time with his friends, most of his “retirement years” were spent focused on God and helping others. After retiring as president of his ministry at the age of 83, he wrote nine more books and spoke on many occasions.
So, are you going to enter your retirement years aimlessly with no plan for your time and living a life of leisure because you don’t have to work anymore? Or are you going to spend your retirement years with plan and a meaningful purpose?
Some of this article is quoted directly from the book, Nearing Home, by Dr. Billy Graham.