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….