Groucho Marx said “Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.”
My name is Malcolm. I’ve just hit 65yrs of age so I’m on my way to being old. I’ve been married to my wife Gail for 45yrs and we have two kids approaching middle age & three grandchildren. There’s no point getting old if you don’t learn some wisdom, so here’s five things I’ve learned about retirement.
I’ve retired twice, first in my policing career and second once I hit the official age, so hopefully should know a thing or two about it!
I completed 30 years’ police service & retired at the rank of Inspector aged 50yrs, but I continued to work in the policing sphere for a further 5 years at home & abroad.
Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to retirement from the police as I had had such an exciting and fulfilling career. I hadn’t realised until later on how much I had actually come to find my identity in my job until I took my uniform off. It was like removing a layer of skin, very painful and I felt lost without my former colleagues.
Lesson 1. Don’t allow what you do to define who you are, even when others may do so. Look to find what God says about who you are beyond your job or role.
We took time out as we tried to find God’s will for us at what we thought was a new chapter in our lives. Despite Gail recovering from cancer we felt called to join a church plant in Exeter. I thought I’d found a job in Exeter but it fell through. We thought we’d made a huge mistake! But whilst looking for another job I volunteered to be the church administrator. The church found the finance to keep me on part time, so we helped build the church for 5 years. This was a hugely exciting & rewarding time for us and, we got involved in all aspects of church life.
Lesson 2. Don’t let your past define you. I’d never thought that with my background I’d be helping to run a new church.
Then out of the blue, I had a serious stroke. My prognosis was not good, so we moved back to Sussex for Gail to be nearer family following my demise. However, I made a miraculous recovery!
Lesson 3. God heals even those who are cynical about healing. I thought I was going to die!
Our new church was entering a new & exciting phase and I got swept up in managing various projects (including setting up a foodbank) culminating in the acquisition of a building. It was at this point that I ‘hit the wall’ of burnout & suffered the effects of PTSD so was forced to take a year out.
Lesson 4. Learn to say ‘No’. It’s rewarding to be able to utilise your skills, knowledge and experience, but remember Lessons 1 & 2!
I’m now recovered and properly ‘retired’, and still feel I have a lot to offer.
Lesson 5. Don’t allow yourself to be written off as being too old for much else. We have grown in wisdom as we have got to know God in our lives. Don’t expect your leaders to instantly recognise your worth, but look to where God is using you. We live in times when youth is worshipped but we serve the ‘ancient of days’ who values white hair! Proverbs 16:31