Guiding planes for God’s glory: an interview with John Archer
Shape tracking. Sequential memory. Reactive avoidance. Most of us don’t even know what these words mean, let alone use them in our daily lives. But John Arche...
Upon retirement, many of us face major questions about identity and purpose. It’s exciting – a season of opportunity, possibility, and exploration. But it can also be daunting, disorientating, and depressing. Now that I’m retired, who am I? Who might I become? And what will I do?
The good news is that our identity and purpose as disciples of Jesus don’t evaporate when we leave paid employment. In our retirement years, we can continue to live out our God-given vocation to join in his kingdom work in all the details of daily life.
And that’s exactly what LICC’s RePurpose small group discussion course aims to do: to help people in or contemplating retirement explore what that vocation might look like in their own lives – whether that be offering expertise to companies or charities, mentoring younger people, studying something new, or simply spending time with others in cafés, gardens, and front rooms.
Now based in Cambridgeshire, recent retiree Ian Sanders found this resource a huge help when he retired from a career teaching in a secondary school. Here’s why he would recommend this resource…
‘I would thoroughly recommend this excellent resource for all those entering or about to enter the fourth quarter of life. It starts out by explaining that “retirement” is an unhelpful term – it suggests the end of usefulness and steady decline but can instead be a time of growth and a fresh discerning of God’s plan in our lives. Whilst retirement looks different for everyone and is shaped by factors such as family commitments, health, finances, personalities, and abilities, it was wonderful to be reminded that God always has a plan for our lives. And, more than that, that all of life matters to God – and we’re invited to join in his work, whatever age we are.’
Easy to run in a church small group, each of the six RePurpose sessions features stories, Bible passages, discussion questions, prayer pointers, and takeaway activities. The first session encourages participants to reflect on the previous chapters of their lives. It helped Ian focus on all that God done in his life:
‘It was wonderful to remember how God had been there in the good and bad times, and that he would continue to be with me as I entered this new season. The unchanging character of God is the only solid ground to build your retirement upon!’
The second session explores identity, asking the question, ‘Who am I?’ So often, we’re quick to find our identity in what we do – but, when we retire, we no longer have a paid profession. Ian found that this ‘inspirational’ session encouraged him to remember that he’s a child of God and that, because of Jesus, each day is brimming with opportunities to show and share the love of Christ and therefore full of purpose.
The third and fourth sessions unpack the places where you spend time during retirement and what you’ll spend time doing now you aren’t in paid employment. Reflecting upon these sessions, Ian remarked:
‘I really enjoyed these sessions and found the question of whether retirement is about vacation or vocation incredibly thought-provoking. This session reminded me that Jesus calls us to follow him through all of life, not just in our working life. So we can retire from our jobs, but not from joining in his work!
‘When I was a teacher, I spent most of my time with colleagues who didn’t know Jesus. But now I’m retired, I spend a larger proportion of my time at home. This session spurred me on to find ways to intentionally spend time with those outside my church family. As I result, I see my daily activities through fresh eyes.
‘For example, regular rounds of golf are an opportunity to connect with lots of new people, most of whom don’t know Jesus, and to reflect his patient, kind, and joyful character. And conversations with the builders renovating our house are a chance to promote fair and just practices, whilst interactions with neighbours dealing with the noise from the construction are an opportunity to minister grace and love.’
The final two sessions focus on how to keep growing as a Christian and finding opportunities to pass on faith and wisdom to others. Ian loved Psalm 92’s image of cedar and palm trees staying fresh and green, discussed in session five. He said it ‘spurred him on to keep growing and being fruitful with Christ, and to use what godly wisdom I’ve gained in my 60-plus years for the benefit of my family, my church family, and those around me in my remaining years.’
In fact, Ian found that the fresh, God-given purpose for retirement explored in RePurpose was too good to keep to himself! After using the study guide in his personal devotions, he condensed the key take-homes and delivered a retirement seminar to people of the same life stage in his church family – a huge endorsement indeed.
If you’d like to find God-given purpose in retirement, RePurpose is the resource for you! You can use it in your personal quiet times, with your small group, or with your wider church family, and it’s available to download for free.
Marketing & Communications Executive, LICC
This article was first published on Faith in Later Life. You can check out their hub of resources here.