Retirement Planning, Shifting our Center of Gravity, and “Being Rich Toward God”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:20-21

Being “retired” is an interesting phenomenon. Especially when it comes to making decisions about what is important. During the so-called “working years” many priorities seem to be automatic, with less of a sense of choice. There is work, and then the responsibility of trying to get children raised, and everything else has to fit in.

Now there is a different center of gravity. One year in, and we’re still trying to get a handle on exactly what that means and how we’re supposed to respond.

This became interestingly clear to me Wednesday morning when Rebekah and I met with our financial advisor Seth for the annual check in. We were asked to respond to all sorts of questions designed to help us narrow down our priorities.

Once we figure out what is important to us (the theory goes), then it becomes a little easier to allocate our resources (assuming we have any!) accordingly.

So I thought maybe it would be useful for me to write down what is important to me. Not from the list of alternatives we were given, but what is on my heart and mind right now. I’m going to try to be honest, with no filter for what I think other people – that’s you – may want to hear from me:

  • To be secure and un-anxious about making ends meet
  • To do things with Rebekah that we both enjoy
  • To invest myself in my passions (writing, photography, playing golf, playing guitar, cooking, reading)
  • To nurture deeper relationships with our children and grandchildren
  • To know this world better (travel) and to share the story in ways that inspire others to enlarge their horizons
  • To be a voice that encourages and affirms and challenges and invites people into a transformational relationship with God
  • To write at least one more book that reaches thousands of people

Reality, of course, places enormous constraints on this ideal. My parents, for example, impact 100% of the bullet points above. Health has already been a factor, as Rebekah spent most of May, June, July, and August barely able to walk; and who knows what will happen in the future for either one of us?

The point of planning, then, is to be proactive rather than reactive, and to do everything possible to mitigate the effect of the unexpected when it does come along.

It turns out, then, that financial planning cannot be a separate category from that of “Hopes and Dreams.”

In my case, most of what I want to be doing with my life, going forward, does not depend so much on being rich as being together, and being in a relationship with God. Fact is, I could have all the money in the world and it wouldn’t do me any good if I didn’t invest properly in the relationships that give this life – even in retirement – the meaning we were created to enjoy.

Peace and more peace – DEREK

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