Why Do You Work? Why Retire?

My last post created a great deal of interest because it dealt with the question: “Do you go to work or to a job?” One response received was, “In two weeks I will go to neither,” meaning the reader would be retiring.

This set me to thinking further about what I stated: “It is only when you do what you were born to do will you really find fulfillment.” In reality, you can be paid to do a job and once you complete it, then you either move on to something else and/or you retire. This is where I believe your work (what you were born to do) is different than your job (what you are paid to do). Why would you ever want to stop doing what brings you fulfillment? If you were born to do something, when should you cease doing it? In other words, why retire?

In some cases, it may make sense financially to retire. Maybe you qualify for a full pension and working longer is not necessarily increasing your retirement benefits anyway. So why continue working? When I started working, it was partially out of necessity. The need for income and supporting family is a valid reason. With my children raised, my reason for working has shifted; now work is more about purpose.  I know several people who can easily retire from their work, yet they choose to continue.

eric liddell

Consider the life of Eric Liddell, a devout Christian and missionary to China, who felt it a priority to run in the Olympic games. His sister felt that his training for the 1924 Olympics deterred him from returning to China. He said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel His pleasure.” We usually would not class running or involvement in a sporting activity as spiritual, or God honouring, but more a physical activity. For Liddell, running wasn’t just a fun activity but a God honouring one.

You cannot argue with a person’s experience; Liddell was passionate about fulfilling God’s purpose for him (missionary to China) yet he ran to honour God and feel His pleasure. For Liddell, the line between secular and sacred was erased.

eric olympic gold

The mistake we often make is in categorizing our work as secular, separating it from the sacred, rather than sensing the pleasure of God in our work. Here is a great piece of advice: Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord … (Col 3:23). The reality is that when we serve others (in our work), we are actually serving the Lord, not just men (Eph. 6:7). If we can say when we work we feel His pleasure, it will be most difficult to retire from that work.

Speaker and author of “The New Retire-mentality,” Mitch Anthony says, “Don’t retire from something but retire to something.” We are all born with purpose and if you are at the retirement stage, remember it can be a great opportunity to feel His pleasure!

 

 

Do You Go to Work, or to a Job?

This question is worth thinking about more than you may realize. Your job is what an employer pays you to do, your work is what you were born to do. There were times that I simply did not enjoy my job and I sought after another that would bring more fulfillment.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain

You may argue that a job and work are much the same because they can both provide a source of income, but I believe it is only when you do what you were born to do will you really find fulfillment.  Chuck Colson was once asked, “If there is one piece of advice you could share, what would it be?” His answer was: “Do only what YOU can do.”  That statement is worth some deeper thought and can make you realize that there is a creativity within all of us to do something unique.

Never work another day

Never working another day in your life is not just a dream then, but maybe it is discovering what only you can do. Your work is more than a job; it is actually more about purpose and utilizing your gifts.

Dallas Willard suggests some distinctions:

  1. Job: What I am paid to do, how I earn my living
  2. Work: The total amount of lasting goods that I will produce in my lifetime

“Lasting goods” is our impact on others, what we leave whether financial, spiritual, moral, emotional etc. What “lasting goods” is my life producing? This is the question that should help us in decisions regarding our work.  Interesting that Jesus acknowledged to the Father, “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do” (Jn 17:4).  If you consider his time on earth, Jesus had a job as carpenter, but he recognized even as a child, that his work was to be about his father’s business (Lk 2:49).

It is easy to conclude then that his job was just how Jesus earned his living (likely from age 12-30), while his true work was his years of public ministry (just 3 years). My immediate thought from this verse is that Jesus glorified God in his ministry years, for the most part, especially by his sacrifice on the cross. However, do we make a mistake when we separate the years of his life like this? The fact is that Jesus glorified God on the earth, period. Dr. Klaus Issler concludes,”I think we can infer from his messianic work, that Jesus also gave this same kind of excellence to his job as a builder.”

My conclusion: you need to fulfill your work, and your job may help you do that.

Here is what Steve Jobs said: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”