How did the word “retirement” creep into America’s culture? The dictionary defines it as the action of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work. Leaving one’s job, ok, that is not too far-fetched. People leave their jobs every day. Ceasing to work, well, is another story. Ceasing to work is like ceasing to live, at least if you define work like the Bible defines work.
Biblically speaking, everything we do is “work.” People confuse employment with work. There is a difference.
Employment is a contract where we are paid a certain compensation in exchange for the work we do. Employment includes work, but not all work is employment. Not all work earns compensation. God in his infinite wisdom planned that some vocations will receive financial compensation and some won’t.
Parenting is work. Volunteering on my school board is work. My job is work. However, I only earn money via my job. Why then should I do the other two? Because being a parent and serving my local community are callings. God has called me to them according to His purpose for me. My reward for them is bigger than getting paid. Think of it as an inheritance rather than compensation. This is why in everything I do, I work as though I am working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Michelangelo’s famous statue of Moses is a powerful depiction of God’s servant, someone who is working for the Lord, not for human masters. Moses is presented as a figure of massive proportions and strong stone, carrying the wisdom of God beneath his arm. But how did he start out in life? As a baby set adrift in a river. A child raised by an adoptive family. A young man who was very conflicted. However, from that fractured life, God raised up a leader who united His people and freed them from slavery. That’s what Moses was called to do. He didn’t receive compensation for it, but he did receive an inheritance.
You can retire from your job, but you can’t retire from what God calls you to do. You can try, but God has a way of never leaving you or forsaking you. No matter what sets you back or makes you feel unworthy, you will never lose dignity in God’s eyes. You were made in His image, He has a purpose for you, and He wants you to believe and see it.
Retirement? It’s a beginning, not an end. Finally, you can live up to the life you were called to live.