Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

Retirement – Is it Biblical?

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere
your God. I am the LORD.       Leviticus 19:32

The bible does not speak specifically to the subject of retirement.  But just because this topic is not addressed, we must not conclude that retirement is unbiblical.  The bible does not address riding in an airplane, but we don’t conclude therefore that airplane rides are unbiblical.

The bible does address the subject of aging and treatment of the elderly.  Therefore, though we may not have an organizational obligation to those who are older, we do have a moral and a biblical obligation to them.

The OT elders and the NT elders were people of influence and authority.  While not exactly equivalent, we can draw guidance from both examples of how they contributed to the work of God and how they were to be treated by others.

Peter reminds us, “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:  Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.”  (1 Peter 5:1-5)  Note that these passages speak to both attitudes and contribution for the elders.  And Paul says, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17)

The Aging
Leviticus 19:32 exhorts us to, “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”  James 1:27 also reminds us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Passages that address the treatment of aging parents are also instructive for us.  Jesus made sure that his own mother was well cared for after His death by entrusting her care to the Apostle John (see John 19:25-27).  It’s fascinating to contemplate that the care of Jesus’ mother was remanded to an apostle and not to one of His own family members.

Paul instructs Timothy concerning the care of aging parents, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.”  (1 Timothy 5:8)  He continues, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)


Retirement – A Modern Concept?

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere
your God. I am the LORD.     Leviticus 19:32

The LORD said to Moses, “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work.      Numbers 8:23-26

The concept of retirement from work into a season of leisure, self-enjoyment and self-fulfillment took root in the 1950s in America.  Workers were encouraged to save for the future with those savings being used for self-indulgence and personal pleasure – a reward for the hard work one had to ‘endure’ during their working career.  Communities for ‘seniors’ emerged and the concept of a leisurely season of retirement after a work career ended became a destination.

With increasing longevity and life-expectancy growing dramatically due to improvements in health care, workers can now expect that their retirement years may be longer than their working years.  Increasing cost of living, increasing medical costs, and poor financial planning lead to aging American workers seeking to extend their working years so that they have income to live and possibly save for a longer than expected life.  Seniors working as Wal-Mart greeters and counter help at McDonald’s are now common.

The fracturing of the American family and the geographical scattering of children from their parents compound any possible means of caring for an aging population.  Few churches have adequate means or a vision for caring for the aging in their congregations.

What does the bible say about aging and caring for the aging? What should be the responsibilities of the local church toward our aging congregations?  Are there different expectations for aging Christian workers contrasted with marketplace workers?  What do we believe about the subject of retirement?

More to come….

Retirement Age at 65?

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere
your God. I am the LORD.    Leviticus 19:32

The LORD said to Moses, “This applies to the Levites:  Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.  They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work.    Numbers 8:23-26

Retirement is a modern concept.  Cotton Mather, the Puritan firebrand, in the early 1700s attempted to encourage aging workers to consider being “…pleased with the Retirement you are dismissed into.”  This concept did not mean the worker would receive a monthly pension; rather it was an encouragement for the older to step aside and let the younger have a place of contribution.  Until the Industrial Revolution, mankind simply worked until they could work no longer.  It was the move away from primarily an agrarian society and to a factory work environment that was less physically demanding that gave older workers an opportunity to continue to work to increasingly older age.

In 1883, Chancellor van Bismarck of Germany had to face the growing attraction of the Marxists who were promising aging German factory workers an old age pension.  To counter the Marxists, van Bismarck offered to pay the German factory workers to stop working and receive a monthly payment from the government.*  He chose the age of 65 as the age to stop working.  It is interesting to note that the life expectancy in Germany at the time was 62 years of age!

By 1935 the Depression was in full bloom and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had to address the issue of caring for aging American workers who had lost their savings in the Depression and had little support to make it to old age.  The Social Security Act of 1935 established the age of 65 as the retirement age for American workers.  It is also interesting to note that the life expectancy for American workers in 1935 was 58 for men and 62 for women.  And now, with the Amended Social Security Act of 1988, the retirement age is gradually being raised to 67 by the year 2025 with life expectancy for men being 76 and women being 81.

It would seem that the age of 65 is a seemingly random and one adopted in a context very different from today’s.  But what about the entire concept of retirement?  Is it something that we should be aiming for?  More to come….

*  N.Y. Times, The History of Retirement, From Early Man to A.A.R.P.    March 21, 1999

A History of US Revivals

The history of America has been marked by multiple great movements of God’s Spirit. These intense periods of the Spirit’s activity begin with a deep work in the hearts of believers and then moves outward into the hearts and lives of those that don’t know Christ. Christians are “revived” in their walk with God as they confess sin and their renewed heart gives boldness in their witness to the unsaved.

Most church historians would agree that there have been six periods of revival in America. Let’s examine these revivals and draw some parallels for today.

1730-40 Revival The Great Awakening
The first movement of the Spirit of God in America occurred before American independence. The Great Awakening saw many of the colonists touched in a profound way. There were few colleges in the colonies during this time, but those that did exist were profoundly visited.

1805-06 Revival The 2nd Great Awakening
The 2nd Great Awakening began around 1805 and lasted for more than two decades. Though historians differ as to the exact dates, none doubt the profound work of God in the lives of many, especially the college students of the day.

At small Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, three students met in dorm room for prayer and Scripture reading. A student mob gathered outside the door swearing and shouting threats to stop the meeting or suffer the consequences. College president John Blair came to investigate the uproar and after discovering the cause, was vexed in his spirit at the moral state of his student body. The next week the meeting met in the president’s parlor with one-half the student body present. Revival swept the college and the country.

At Yale College “a spiritual revival took place that shook the institution to its center” In a letter from a student to his mother he wrote, “Yale college is a little temple: prayer and praise seem to be the delight of the greater part of the students while those who are still unfeeling are awed into respectful silence.”

1857-58 Revival The Prayer Revival
The third movement of God’s Spirit began with a noon prayer meeting in New York City on Sept. 23, 1857. Six people gathered to pray for the city and their neighborhoods. Within 6 months 10,000 gathered daily for noonday prayer in New York and the revival moved to campuses across America. The YMCA came to America from England, expanded into collegiate ministry in 1858, and was on 180 campuses by 1884.

1905-06 Revival
The fourth visitation of God occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century. “Never in the history of universities have there been so many genuine spiritual awakenings among students.” The seeds in this revival were found in the 1886 Mt. Hermon student conference with D.L. Moody for 250 students. The Princeton Covenant was created by a small group of students at the conference and later signed by thousands, pledging themselves to foreign missions.

1949-50 Revival
Two students from Los Angeles drove 2,300 miles to Minneapolis to pray with Dr. J. Edwin Orr and Dr. Billy Graham for campus revival. Orr preached at Bethel Chapel soon thereafter and, “there was much prayer in the dormitories, followed by intense conviction of sin among the students in chapel and in classroom…Conviction was relieved only by outright confession, restitution, restoration or conversion to God.” In October 1955, the NY Times stated, “more than 1,200 of the nation’s 1,900 colleges and universities now have a ‘religious emphasis week’ of some sort.”

1970’s Jesus Movement
Revival broke out at Asbury College in Kentucky in 1970 and moved to secular campuses. Campus ministers in California who were witnessing to the radical students began to see many converted! Hundreds were converted and baptized in the Pacific Ocean! It is estimated that 250,000 students came to Christ during the next few years.

Are we on the verge of another great movement of the Spirit of God in America?  Let’s pray and ask God for it to begin with us!

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