You Never Retire from the Work of the Lord
My father used to say, “You never retire from the work of the Lord.” He taught me—and many others—that ceasing work for the last 20 or 30 years of one’s life (or more!) is not a biblical idea. Throughout Scripture we read about Sabbath rest, but not once do we read about retirement. The concept is a fairly recent invention, popularized in industrialized nations in the last 150 years or so.
Why, then, does Orchard Alliance offer retirement products? Because in reality, it becomes increasingly difficult to earn a full-time wage as you progress into your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. Few individuals in their latter years are able to maintain a full-time work schedule, so it’s wise to prepare financially for the day when your earned income will be reduced.
My Uncle Dick and Aunt Eleanor are examples of two faithful servants who made financial provision for their retirement years but refuse to retire from the work of the Lord. Dick and Eleanor live at the Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers, Florida. Both are in their 80s. For more than 50 years, they served side-by-side in full-time ministry: for four terms as Alliance missionaries in Japan; as a pastoral team in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California; and finally as professors at Nyack College. Today they are involved in a variety of ministries—some paid, some volunteer—because they prepared financially.
During their years of full-time service, Dick and Eleanor contributed to the C&MA’s Fellowship Fund. They also chose to participate in Social Security, and they invested with TIAA. They even received stock from AT&T when Eleanor served as a telephone operator for a time. It wasn’t easy to keep the future in mind when living on a minister’s salary, but, as my Uncle Dick says, “It’s important for young people to keep retirement in mind when making financial decisions. It will arrive a lot sooner than you think.”
After 35 years of service to The Alliance, Dick and Eleanor received the maximum payout amount from the Fellowship Fund. They added those monies to their TIAA investment portfolio. Today my aunt and uncle live off their Social Security benefits plus earnings from their investments and whatever income they earn from ministry.
When they moved to Shell Point in 2009, Dick and Eleanor retired from full-time ministry. Now, 10 years later, their commitment to the cause of Christ is as strong as ever. They may not be as busy as they once were, but their time is still spent serving the Lord in various ways. For the past eight-and-a-half years they have ministered to the youth at the Chinese Alliance Church in Fort Myers, making them—in Uncle Dick’s words—“The oldest youth pastors in the history of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.” They play music at Shell Point when asked. Uncle Dick also preaches once a month at the Chinese Alliance Church in Naples, where he and Aunt Eleanor planned and participated in last December’s Christmas Eve candlelight service.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be able to be as busy as they are when I reach my 80s, but their faithfulness is an inspiration to me. Their financial preparation is, too. When that day comes, I know I’ll be seeking to follow in their footsteps, because, as my Uncle Dick says, “There’s always a ministry in every season of life.”