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Faith and Spiritual Growth for the Maturing Adult

Transitions: Retirement Living

Retirement Living
 

by Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.

While giving a retirement preparation seminar to a group of executives from a large international corporation, a man approached me with a chagrined look on his face as he said, "Retirement is going from Who's Who to who's that!

Retirement is certainly as much a psychological and spiritual transition as it is a financial one. In our working years we asked the question, "What am I?" As we approach retirement another question grabs our attention, "Who am I? As Jesus asked Peter, "And who do you say that I am?" we too ask the same question of ourselves as we venture into maturation.

Such questions penetrate to a deeper place in us; we're no longer pursuing personal success, we're looking instead for significance...we're searching for our spiritual truth in ways a bit different than before. This shift in our focus leads us to an inherent redefinition of who we say we are. In retirement we're asked to move away from a material-achievement definition of self, and embrace a more spiritual definition.

Retirement can be a more difficult transition than is midlife, or even career transitions; this is especially true for men. Our worldly culture constantly pummels us that we are what we do, that our worth is in our work. We need to make a shift away from attitudes like these and adopt new ones that speak of who we are at our core. We are much more than what we do; we will not gain salvation by working harder, we gain salvation through Jesus.

Those who cannot redefine themselves in retirement may fall into the worldly trap of defining themselves only in physical terms. They become ever more shallow, and can even lapse into a submissive, lackluster state of retirement living characterized by non-involvement, withdrawal, dependency, and apathy. They block themselves from deeper spiritual growth and consequently begin to stagnate, become crusted, two-dimensional, and emotionally calcified.

Retirement requires that we fortify ourselves with good information, not only about our finances, but also about emotional change, and perhaps most importantly about our very self-definition, who we say we are! For more on the retirement transition, log onto: http://www.senioradultministry.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=COURSE103

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