Retired? What’s Next?

This is written to be an encouragement to older men . . . like me. Especially those that are retired from the weekly grind or that could do so at any time. The message is appropriate for women, also, but men really ought to take the lead.

As my career moved me around the country I have been in a lot of conservative, Bible-believing churches with a significant population of retired men. The typical retiree is a “faithful member” of his church, supporting the ministries financially, and has often raised his children to know the Lord. He is a good citizen, seems to treat his wife well, and lives comfortably in the nicer part of town. Outside of attendance and giving, though, there is little evidence of his faith. A more tragic case is the older man who is successful in business and could retire, because he has the resources, but keeps on making the big bucks.

The typical pastor would never dream of thumping the pulpit to stir up this crowd. After all, somebody has got to pay the bills, and this is the part of the congregation that gives the most. And what in the world is there to be stirred up about?!!?

Consider the following Scriptures:

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. – Psalm 90:10-12

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. – 2 Cor 5:10-11

My mouth shall show forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. O God, thou has taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come. – Psalm 71:15-18

Is there not a cause? Life slips away day by day. Are you preparing for the judgment seat of Christ? Can you really think of any other way to glorify God with the remaining days of your life? What fills up your time? Golf? TV? Gardening? The coffee shop? Just puttering around?

When you were successful in business or medicine or law or education or trucking or whatever . . . weren’t you planning ahead for the next performance review? Or trying to qualify for the next bonus? Were you careful to have a full spectrum of insurance to take care of yourself and your loved ones? Didn’t you structure your 401k and the rest of your portfolio so you could be a good steward?

So what are you doing to get ready to stand before the Lord?

What missed opportunities! This is America, where we still have freedom to preach the Gospel, pass out tracts, knock doors, advertise seminars and talks, and email almost anyone on the planet with a plea for repentance. The retiree ought to set the most fervent example in his church on the Great Commission. Some older gents might protest, “Oh I used to do some of that, but you see I’m getting up there in years now.”

Can you walk and talk? Could you drive (or have someone drive you) to some location where there is pedestrian traffic? Could you knock on 10 of your neighbors’ doors? Could you invest a half-hour to pass out tracts and talk with a couple of human beings who are headed for hell with no one to care for their souls? Well might their cry be throughout eternity:

I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. — Psalm 142:4

(In context the psalmist was decrying his earthly abandonment even though he knew the Lord. See v. 5. How much more abandoned are those lost for eternity?)

Can’t walk? Could someone bring you in your wheelchair? (You’ll actually get a better response this way.) Perhaps you’re nervous, afraid of rejection . . . afraid of looking like a zealous fool. Get over it. Repent. Consider the qualifications of the personal evangelist laid out by the apostle Paul:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. — 1 Cor 2:1-5

Note that the qualifications for this work include non-excellent speech, non-excellent wisdom, weakness, fear, and much trembling. This work is God’s work. He’s given us an awesome portion of the responsibility, namely to tell people how to be saved. God will do the big work of convicting and leading the lost to repentance and faith. But not without our part. A friend of mine on a trip to Seattle (Seattle is a “tough crowd” with respect to the Gospel) observed a lone, young Chinese lady passing out Gospel tracts in English on a sidewalk. He went up to encourage her and discovered that she couldn’t speak a word of English. But she had a heart for lost Americans. What’s your excuse?

I’ve known combat-hardened soldiers who were too chicken to do personal evangelism. There is a reason for chicken-heartedness in this area, by the way. Satan’s forces work hard to keep you on the bench. But . . .

God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord . . . but be thou partaker of the afflications of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling . . . — 2 Tim 1:7-9

We lived in a fairly rural area some years ago, with about 50,000 people within about 100 miles. I knew all of the approximately ten people that were actively engaged in reaching out to lost strangers. (I’m sure there were lots Christians reaching out to their relatives, but I’m not counting them.) In my particular town of about 12,000 I thought I was the only one walking around and actually accosting strangers to ask them about their salvation. One gloomy autumn day I saw a young man in a park and approached him, striking up a conversation. As I turned the conversation to the spiritual he responded in kind perfectly. Suddenly I knew that he was about the same business I was. We were both thankful to run into each other to provide some mutual encouragement. I asked him why there weren’t other people in his somewhat sizable church that did what he did. He sadly explained that he had tried to enlist others, but nobody was interested. Now . . . here’s the punchline . . . this young man was mentally disabled, not able to support himself or live on his own. But he was clear in his Gospel presentation! He couldn’t communicate very effectively on other topics, but he was competent to tell people about Jesus! Now, what was that excuse you mentioned before?

Who was the greatest Old Testament prophet? Certainly Moses. Who was the greatest New Testament evangelist? Certainly Paul. Yet Moses was so meek that he argued with God rather than do public speaking and employed his brother Aaron as a spokesman. And Paul (above and in other Scriptures) admitted his own frailties on several occasions. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God picked two such individuals who were so singularly un-talented for their missions. Is it possible that God wants to get the glory? So let Him.

You can’t claim to love God and love your neighbor unless you’re obedient to the Lord and care enough about other folks to warn them that they are headed for hell. If you’re a novice and poor at this, get started and eventually you’ll be mediocre! And then work hard to get better at it. Of course, we should learn and grow in wisdom, demonstrate compassion in our witness, and be able to give an answer to genuine questions. You learned a lot during your life in order to make money. So study a bit now! There are plenty of articles and references on this site to help you out. And you can contact me (see the CONTACT US page) to make a lifelong friend and encourager. (I’m just looking for one new volunteer out there. Isn’t there just one that ‘chanced’ across this site?) If we get along OK, I might even invite you to spend a few days with me and you can join me on my favorite corners in Chicago. (Room and board are on me.)

Maybe you feel like teaching a Sunday School class is “enough” work for the Lord. Who are you to teach if you set a disobedient example by refusing the Great Commission? Be an example. Get your Sunday School class out with you and help them experience the joy of walking with Jesus. That’s what the Lord is talking about in Matthew 28:18-20 . . . He’ll be with us in the work of the Great Commission right up to the end of this age.

Don’t you want to train up your children and grandchildren to be soldiers of Jesus Christ? Look around you. Is anyone else setting a great example for them? As the world races toward apostasy and persecution, will the Lord find faith in your family (Luke 18:8)? Is not faith a matter of agreeing with God? Can you believe and disobey at the same time? If you think so, review the Lord’s opinion in Matthew 7:21-23. And those are people who may be working harder than you are!

Consider the principle in John 7:17. You won’t even be able to teach Biblical doctrine effectively if you aren’t obedient. If you’ve studied or taught through the book of Acts — chapter 5, verse 32 should give you some pause. The 4 Gospel accounts and the book of Acts are filled with evangelism. But if you’re cold to the subject, you won’t even see the Scripture clearly.

Why am I beating you up? Because your pastor won’t. Also, because it’s lonely out here. I want to see more geezers out here on the streets proclaiming the great news that Jesus saves! There’s room for more laborers!

If you could retire, why haven’t you? Whatever your reasons, imagine how they will sound at the judgment seat of Christ. That’s coming, you know.

Last point: I hope you’re not one of those who is lazy now because of age/hobbies/money/whatever . . . but years ago, while you were working for the big bucks, you declined to serve the Lord because you had to work so many hours per week, and the kids had ball games, and the wife was nagging . . . Namely, the excuses have changed, but the heart is the same. Please, please, please examine yourself. Jesus is coming soon!

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. — Rom 13:11-12

Be a light-bearer. Follow Jesus.

– Dr. Dave

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