Thursday, February 03, 2011

Working Until You Drop

Here's an interesting article from USA Today noting that after years of decline, the labor force participation of workers over the age of 65 is now at 17%. It's not particularly surprising if you consider that the life expectancy in the US has risen to over 78.4 years.

People are living longer than ever and rather than spend retirement years in frivolous pursuits, many are returning to the workforce. These former retirees are eschewing days on the golf-course for something more meaningful. Often they are pursuing these "encore careers" in education or other non-profit sectors.

Since the Bible does little to support the idea of retirement at 65, most Christians aren't typically the retiring type. Instead, we reminded that God calls and appoints us to bear fruit, presumably as long as we are able.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." John 15:16

Jesus may have been speaking to the disciples but his words are nonetheless applicable to us as well. Paul asserts as much in Ephesians 2:10 where he speaks us as having been "created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them".
Consider this remarkable thought - God has prepared good works for us. A few of these works take on grand significance but most will seem mundane. Yet each act, big or small carries eternal significance in the economy of God's plan.

Leisure and entertainment may have their place, but it is God ordained work that occupies the centerpiece of our daily existence. By God's grace, may we be both faithful and fruitful in the work He has appointed for us.


David Rupert said...

The reality is that many of us will work far longer than we ever imagined. The longer expectancy is a driving factor, as is better health and a declining economic condition.

The problem is that the workplace is definitly biased against older workers

Jimmy said...

i agree with David, to a great degree people are working longer because they have provide for themselves. life is so expensive.
that being said, keeping busy and working is good for my soul and my mind. idleness leads to selfish desires and searching for some type of activity.
i hope that i can get to a simple enough life that i can find ways to give my time to those in real need.

Every Square Inch said...

David, Jimmy - you're both right. The economic climate (measured in terms of unemployment rates, not stock market gains) and longer life expectancies will drive that reality. But many are also coming back to workplace because they are active and want to contribute.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. I agree. But I think a good mix of work and rest and play is needed. Of course most of our lives is work. We Christians and Americans are good at work, though not always for the best reasons. But we're not as good at resting and play. I'm becoming better at the latter, and I think that's helping me much in my work. But if I get old I hope by God's grace to be able to work, right up to my last day in this life, by God's grace.

Sam Van Eman said...

I've had a few good conversations with recent retirees who wanted to be done with their career jobs and wondered what to do next. That was the rub - what to do next. Hobbies aside, what they talked about was volunteering or finding an entry level position doing something they figured they would enjoy doing.

The one friend works in the bakery at a local grocery store. He doesn't need the money and he loves the work. I have no idea how I'll approach this when the time comes, but I certainly can't imagine sitting around every day.

Sue Miley said...

I have found when I am focused on God's Kingdom and what He wants me to do I just don't feel as worn out by work.

When I start focusing on my needs or desires, it seems more like work.

I find that God gives me the energy and passion for His work at what ever age I happen to be at. So I may have to retire from "my" work, but am confident, like you, that God still has plans for us 65+!

Heather said...

Indeed! We will bear fruit as long as we are alive!

Every Square Inch said...

Ted - I think your comment about rest is wise for us Americans to heed. Ironically, it is our low view of work that leads us as a nation to workaholism. We don't view work as valuable but only as a means to get us to a life free from responsibilities - either blissful retirement or prolonged vacations (not saying vacations are wrong) - so we work ourselves excessively toward a destination of ease. Except we never get there.

Every Square Inch said...

Sam - I love hearing about retired folks that have a 2nd run at a job that they love, especially when it involves serving a vision bigger than themselves.

Sue - thanks for your comment. When I read it, refrains of Matt 6:33 - seek first the kingdom of God and his righteous... kept ringing in the background

Heather - may God give us strength and desire to keep working as long as we have breath. thx for taking time to stop by with a comment

Julie said...

My dad was a wonderful inspiration to me since he loved his work as a consulting arborist. When he retired as president of his company in his 70s, he started a consulting business which brought him great satisfaction and helped many people. He was even working on the day he died at age 86.

Every Square Inch said...

Julie - thanks for stopping by with a comment. As I get older, I have an increasing appreciation for folks like your father who didn't decide to "coast" but sprinted to the finish line by laboring right up till the end.