Retirement Planning: Leave Something for God To Do

By on September 15, 2014
someone checking off retirement planning list

By Sharon V. King –

Almost 30 years ago, I relocated to a new city and started looking for a job. I joined a great church and quickly made some sympathetic and supportive friends. They gladly took copies of my resumes and promised to share my information with their contacts. Each week after church, I reported my job hunt progress to one of my most helpful friends and announced my job search strategies for the coming week.

After a few weeks’ worth of negative, after-church job hunt reports, discouragement set in. Dejectedly, I told my friend one Sunday that I needed to re-think my job search strategy, shift my networking targets, and possibly look for a “head hunter” to help me find a job. My friend looked at me and gently, but firmly, said, “Maybe you need to leave something for God to do.”

We all have those Ah-ha moments when God sends the Holy Spirit via a person, circumstance, or incident to wash the scales from our eyes so we can see Him more clearly. My friend’s comment that Sunday after church was one of those moments for me. Like many eager, go-getter career women I networked with all those years ago, I was certain if I just pushed all the right job search buttons, I could control my own destiny. I hadn’t forgotten about God. I just assumed that the outcome of my efforts solely relied on my own cleverness, efficiency, and dedicated effort.

Fast forward almost three decades, as I now prepare to end of my full-time work life. I’m back where I started, planning like crazy. This time, I’m not planning how to find a job but what to do once the job ends. I’m approaching that multi-layered stage of life once referred to as retirement. This life stage has many different names and characteristics now. I know retired people who swear up and down that there is no such thing as retirement and refuse to use the term to describe how they live now. In fact, I technically retired three years ago from my gerontology career, but I’m still working in a different job. I certainly don’t feel retired when I get up to go to work every morning!

In the not too distant future, I plan to stop working full-time, start collecting social security, and really retire. For me, that means I will change my lifestyle from the routine of the traditional work week and miraculously enter a period of living when I can use my time any ‘ol way I want, thank you very much. As you might guess from the tale of my job search adventure, I have elaborate plans for my retirement—some more elaborate than my skinny 401(k) will allow. I’m fully aware of the importance of staying active—physically, socially, and mentally—once the job routine ends. This awareness sometimes backfires and makes me anxious about everything I could, should, and want to do in retirement. When the stress builds, I hear once more my now deceased friend’s important words—“Leave something for God to do.”

Such a spiritual approach to retirement may not win points with some retirement planning professionals who tell us that, when it comes to retirement, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. They are correct—to a point. It would have been foolish of me to try to find a job 30 years ago without sprucing up my resume, attending networking sessions, and combing the want ads (no Craig’s List back then) to identify jobs that matched my education and skills. I would be equally foolish to approach retirement without a thoughtful game plan.

What I needed to remember then—and what I need to focus on now—is that I live in intimate relationship with the Power that created the universe and everything in it (including me). God has blessed me with a good mind and a lot of experience, and He knows I know how to use those gifts to make good plans and decisions—but my resources extend far beyond what I know, what I do, and what I have. “The cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10), figuratively speaking, are among the assets God has on hand to provide my needs.

Even if I haven’t fed my 401(k) the money-rich diet it should have had, and if I haven’t registered with a sufficient number of Meetup Groups to make sure my social calendar stays full, and if my two health club memberships aren’t enough to keep me as spry as I want to be, it’s okay. My retirement, like my job search many years ago, securely rests in the merciful Hands of God. What a blessed relief it is to know that everything doesn’t depend on me. The next time you (or I) feel tempted to eliminate all uncertainty about retirement by planning for every possible contingency (and then making contingency plans for our contingency plans), pause, pray, and breathe; and, for goodness’ sake, leave something for God to do.

©2014 Sharon V. King, PhD

 

Sharon V. King

About Sharon V. King

Sharon is a retired gerontology professor who writes self-help devotional books for 50+ women. In addition to her academic journal articles about religion and aging, Sharon has published several inspirational ezine articles and Christian Education curricula. Her new book, Aging Gracefully with the 23rd Psalm, will be published later this year by Anaiah Press. Connect with Sharon on her blog at www.yearsfullofgrace.wordpress.com.

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Retirement Planning: Leave Something for God To Do