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Writing that inspires, empowers and lifts up women

What is our purpose and mission in life? Some people find employment that matters, that contributes to achieving the larger goals of society. It means seeking out issues that you are passionate about and working out how you can help address those issues. How do we lend a hand? How do we help one another? How do we help build a better society? What is the source of your feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment? Some people do not address the question until they are facing retirement and wondering how best to have value and purpose.

When asked if I am retired, I hesitate, because I am working while retired. My mission now is to write books and blogs that inspire and empower readers, especially women, to be your best self, the one God created you to be, to do all you are called to do.

Transitioning to retirement can be scary - no more endorphins from clients asking for advice, no more dressing up and sharing new industry ideas. Is a retired person irrelevant, sitting back in a rocking chair? No, we all have a purpose and can lead productive lives. But we need to know how to work when retired.

The very week that it was announced to all my clients that it would be my last month before retiring from my work as a financial advisor, the devotional for the day was “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23).

But what does ‘working for the Lord’ mean for a retired person? As a self-employed financial advisor, without a manager telling me what and how to do things, I have considered the Lord my guide. I worked to please God, showed concern for my clients, empathized with their goals and needs, was transparent in my compensation and treated clients fairly. How do you do that if you are retired?

Then, attending a study group with other Christian financial advisors, the theme was “Finishing Well”. We discussed how many of the biblical characters were strong in their faith in their early years but failed in the second half of life. For example, Solomon started well and made good choices early on, but later he did not follow the guidance he had been given; he acquired many horses, accumulated large amounts of wealth, and had over 700 wives. Being disobedient to God in the second half led Solomon astray.

As financial advisors, we help people save and prepare financially for retirement. Accumulating a nest egg is smart and important. We are told, “anyone who does not provide for his relatives has denied the faith,” (1 Timothy 5:8), and “be like the ant, …. it stores provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8). But if growing affluence becomes a goal in itself, it can cause “Affluenza”. With growing affluence, we tend to rely on ourselves instead of God, to trust in wealth instead of in the Lord. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”(Matthew 19:24) Wealth provides opportunities to do many things and either distract or strengthen our service for others.

Jesus tells a parable that makes fun of the person who retires to take life easy, eat drink and be merry. In it, God says to this person “You fool! This very night you may die... a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but do not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12:19-21). The world tells us that retirement is a time of leisure, a reward for the years of work. But the Bible tells us that our work on earth is not done until we arrive in heaven, which is where we will receive our reward for our years of work, including our work outside of careers. This is a reward for the years of childcare, of teaching, of volunteering, of lending a hand to help others. We are called to use our talents for God – not just for paid work.

My mother used to visit friends in Florida and say, “they work awfully hard at playing!” She could not understand finding satisfaction in spending the day bicycling, walking, playing cards, doing puzzles and other leisure activities. She would spend her winters involved in the community, giving speeches in support of overseas church personnel, raising funds for the local women's museum, working in committees to examine and update policies, writing letters to defend those imprisoned unfairly, teaching about farm safety, and taking care of grandchildren. My mother was a “people person” whose volunteer work provided her with feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Likewise, we need to examine ourselves for what motivates us, and what passions we have to make our corner of the world a better place. In my last year of work as a financial advisor, I was part of an advisor team, which allowed me to slowly reduce my hours and ease towards retirement. With Covid lockdowns and reduced work hours, I found myself following my passion to research women who followed Jesus, using their financial resources to support his work. My research and notes grew into the Work In Progress novel that I am now editing. I hope that my writing inspires, teaches, and especially to lift up women. Mary's song of praise exclaims that God has lifted up the humble. I have come to realize that God continues to lift up the humble by using those who allow Jesus to reign in our hearts. We are bringing God's kingdom to earth.

So how do we “work for the Lord” and “finish well” when we are retired? We transition from working for financial survival to working for God’s Kingdom. Homemakers have known this for many years. There is work that God calls us to do: believers of all genders are called to seek justice, show kindness, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). We are told to care for the poor, the orphans and widows, to serve others, and to spread the good news that there is forgiveness and peace in Jesus. Above all, we are called to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39). This expanded purpose and mission in life does not end at retirement. Some would say retirement is only the beginning.

Elaine Kelly

March 12, 2021

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