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Category: Retirement / Topics: Change Optimal Aging Statistics

Stewardship: Living with Purpose

by David Noreen

Posted: June 5, 2015

A challenge to think about the stewardship of the extra years of productive life the average person has today compared to past generations…

Dave Noreen has been involved in formal stewardship programs where the focus is on charitable giving. Here, in a piece originally addressed to an audience that probably expected a financial appeal, he broadens that definition to focus on living with purpose (or as our masthead suggests, "making the most of the second half"). 

“Stewardship”  is much more than an appeal for money!  One contribution of today”s society is the reminder that stewardship is about Life!   It”s still about a culture of giving….and in a great many ways, we acknowledge this important aspect of stewardship:  Recycling, care about water resources, volunteering,  support of local and national  regulations, and other concerns of the environment.

A question to ponder

How has stewardship, or living with purpose, figured in as we have moved through the years?    Most of us are very aware of the radical change in aging statistics which have been part of our life journey.
There”s never been an historical period just like the past decades.  Examples:  

  • Average life span 100 years ago was 46.7.  Today:  78+ years !.
  • Of all people 65+ who have lived on earth, 2/3rds are alive this very moment!
  • An elderly population explosion is inevitable between 2010 and 2030 because of the Baby Boomers!
  • People 65+ numbered 40 million in 2011, but will reach 50 million in only 8 years..(by 2019)!
  • By 2020, the “oldest old”…people 85+….who totaled 3.5 million in 1994, will double to 7 million!
  • It is projected that 1 in 5 U.S. citizens will be counted as elderly in the year 2030!

To have a stewardship responsibility with the extra years we have been given is not just a nice idea, but suggests a call to action;  “ Adding life to our years along with years to our lives.”

Moving through the stages of retriement 

There is a lot of ”new thinking” about the concept of retirement these days.  We can consider several stages through which most of us have moved, and how we responded.   Does it bring back any memories?

  1. The Imagination Stage   Mid-life time, when we first had any serous thoughts of retiring.  It was mostly questions about “what might happen”.  Not too much thought, except to join with about 88% of mid-lifers who believe that “this will be a happy times…finally retired.”
  2.  The Anticipation Stage   Some 5 years before the big day.  Full of ideas and dreams, what to do, where to go, etc.  Some 96% are certain that they will be happy, but follow-up study says that 50% never are.
  3. The Liberation Stage   This is the honeymoon, with 78% reporting a great year.  But, for most, the average time enjoyed is only a year.  The adjustments from the workplace environment are numerous for both spouses.  (Maybe it”s true that she “married him for life, but not for lunch”!)
  4. The Reorientation Stage   Surveys say that this can be a shorter or longer period in which questions are raised, such as “Who am I now?”   “Who do I want to be?”   Those who haven”t discovered a life purpose can be exceedingly bored and unhappy.  It can be “postpartum depression”,  and a period with a big investment given to smaller life changes, sending people  to computer and/or doctor to ”figure out what”s ailing them,” with suspicions of illnesses . Likewise : Do you suppose that today”s statistic of the elderly spending  an average of 47 hours of TV per week may reflect this stage of retirement?
  5. The Reconciliation Stage    There”s a coming to terms with “what is”, like one will never have experiences of the old workplace anymore,  or that friends and family won”t be part of their lives always. This can also be a period of a new awakening, or exploring new work opportunities. Fact: About 4 million seniors have been added  to the work force the past 4 years.  Fact: 70% of the Boomers have already gotten that message as they plan to work in retirement.  (Maybe a projected economy figures in to that!).

A new understanding of retirement

It seems to me that a life with purpose means a new way of understanding retirement:  To stay engaged, to embrace a lifestyle which is not “inward-centered,” but majors on reaching out to relationships, have freedom to really enjoy
our God-given gifts and “grow them,&rsquo” and to keep asking “What can I do at this stage of my life”?

Search all articles by David Noreen

Rev. David Noreen is retired, but remains active in senior ministry, especially in the area of stewardship. He served as Administrator of Christian Education for the Evangelical Covenant Church and before that as a pastor in the Midwest.

E-mail the author (moc.loa@neerond*)

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Posted: June 5, 2015   Accessed 708 times

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