How two couples reflect a growing movement to see retirement not as an end but as a transition.
We’re planning to retire by age 50,”says Rebecca Jackson, 40, from Fort Collins, Colorado. “But it’s not that we wouldn’t work; we just might not do the same thing.”
Rebecca and her husband, Greg Feldpausch, 39, are both doctors. She’s a geriatric physician, and he works in adult medicine at Northern Colorado Hospitalists after spending the first season of his career in the Air Force. As they juggle work and raising their two boys, Clayton, 4, and Jackson, 7, they’re also looking to the future. The end goal for them is to be able to fully walk away from their jobs and be retired for life.
How will they do that? They’ve created a strategy to pay down their student loan debt and save for the future. Clint Jasperson, their brother-in-law (married to Rebecca’s sister) and a Thrivent Financial professional in Timnath, Colorado, has helped them.
“They’re very, very committed to paying off their debt,” says Jasperson. “So many people end up in what feels like indentured servitude by having ‘lifestyle creep,’ by buying a larger house or car than they need. But Becca and Greg have their priorities straight.”
Even though both now make good salaries, Rebecca and Greg essentially live on one salary, as they are aggressively paying off loans and cars, and are saving for their children’s college education.
Jasperson has been a crucial guide in Rebecca and Greg’s financial journey, helping them use their finances to live out their faith. “If we believe everything we have is a gift, then that puts us into a position of stewardship,” Jasperson says.
Their view of retirement reflects a growing movement to see retirement not as an end but as a transition. They’re looking forward to retirement giving them more flexibility when it comes to their family and pursuing other passions. “There’s a high burnout rate in medicine,” says Rebecca, explaining why they want to retire early. “And we’d just like to have options. Time with our family is really a priority.” They’ve also considered retiring in Oregon, and Greg has thought about spending more time working with his hands—possibly learning a new trade.
Jasperson helps Thrivent members save and plan for the future, especially for unexpected circumstances like a death in the family. But he doesn’t believe most people “want to just sit there and idly twiddle their thumbs all day. Retirement is really about transitioning to your next calling. You’ve got to find that next calling.”
Retirement is not always about a complete cessation from work, but often a new season of service that’s enabled by being wise with money.
Planning to Retire—But Not Completely
“I don’t know that we’ll ever actually retire,” says Mike Fornataro, executive director of Buckeye Lake Region Corporation in Buckeye Lake, Ohio. “But because of investing, we’re now in a position to do things we’d like to do rather than chase the dollar.”
Mike, 60, and his wife, Ann, 56, didn’t start investing until their late 40s, when they met Thrivent Financial Professional Jeff Ritter from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Ann is a senior IT training consultant for Genesis Healthcare Systems.
“Our time frame was shorter,” Mike says, “but we’ve been fortunate. Jeff gauged our comfort level, and we now have stable growth.”1
Ritter helped the Fornataros fast-track their retirement savings. “I share the five principles to live by with my clients,” he says. “Spend less than you make, have a short- and long-term strategy, be wise with debt, protect yourselves against setbacks and give back.” In setting and achieving goals, it’s important to understand that you might need to make some trade-offs as you consider your needs and wants.
Ritter also coached the Fornataros to make a clear budget and ask questions about the values they tie to money. “Are you tracking—literally—the money you’ve spent in the last 90 days. Do you write it down?” he asks them. “And when I first meet a couple, I ask, ‘How were you raised with money? How did your parents define success?’” Clarity on inherited values about money can help explain why budgets either work well for people or are ignored. He also uses one of several money models when he counsels clients to make a 10-10-80 plan: Save 10%, give 10% and spend 80%.
“When I first met Mike and Ann,” Ritter remembers, “they didn’t have a retirement strategy.” So they developed a clear financial roadmap for retirement.
The Fornataros have adopted new habits of saving and investing, but like Rebecca and Greg, they don’t envision completely retiring. “Hopefully we’ll be able to work at lower-stress jobs because we have a cushion. It’s not the traditional, ‘I’m done. I’m out,’ type of retirement,” says Mike. “[We want] the freedom to choose what we do for a living that may not be as lucrative but is more fulfilling. That’s our view of retirement.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, an estimated 10,000 baby boomers retire per day in the U.S.2 Yet couples like Mike and Ann are questioning that idea of retirement as a complete cessation from work. Mike says, “I hope to continue working in a capacity similar to what I’m doing now. A job with real community benefit.”
“What I see going forward,” says Ritter, “is how we can help people get repositioned in retirement to still give back. Maybe it’s volunteering or doing a hybrid retirement, working part time, either for pay or not for pay. What I work through with clients is, ‘What does your picture of retirement look like? Paint it for me so you, your spouse and I are on the same page.’
“I ask people, ‘Have you and your spouse sat down and talked about what you both want to accomplish for retirement? What is your game plan? What are you going to be doing? Is it travel? Write a book? Are you going to work part-time? What are you going to do for yourself, and what are you going to do for others?’”
Finances are just one piece of a fruitful retirement. Ritter guides Thrivent members to think through the stewardship not just of their wealth, but the entirety of their lives as a gift from God.
Prioritizing What’s Important
“Time with family. That really is the priority,” says Rebecca about both her present and future plans. That philosophy was inspired by the early death of her father. “My dad worked really hard, retired early and then passed away two years later, at age 65.” In working with older patients, Rebecca is constantly reminded by the fragility of life and how unexpected events can drastically change our lives.
So she takes off Mondays to take her children to swim practice. Greg recently opted for fewer shifts at the hospital. They enjoy family vacations in Michigan, Colorado and Oregon. They’re living not just for the future, but they recognize each day as a gift.
They imagine that one day they’ll perhaps have a saner balance of work and rest. “I don’t know if we’d completely retire. We may one day work at a nursery or take up a trade. But we want to be able to spend time together. That’s our hope.”
This article first appeared in the Thrivent magazine, a trade publication for over 2 million Thrivent members. Here’s the PDF.
This essay on retirement, targeted toward ministry leaders, was first published in the November 2019 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis. Here it is in its entirety.
Greg Haanen recently turned 65 and retired from a career selling print advertising. For over 14 years, he lived in Minneapolis, while his wife Gayle ran Interlachen Inn, a small restaurant in Alexandria, Minnesota. Having lived apart from her for over a decade, he was ready to say good riddance to the two-hour commute every weekend, to spending nights alone, and to a life of hurry and obligation. They sold their house in Minneapolis and renovated their cabin with a deluxe fireplace, big screen TV, and farmhouse kitchen. He was eagerly awaiting a new season of rest and relaxation.
Yet his honeymoon period was short-lived. Less than three months after retirement, his sister went in for another round of chemotherapy, having battled cancer for years. However, this time, she started to decline fast. In only weeks, he found himself coordinating hospice details, calling family, and moving her out of her apartment. As images of a carefree retirement on a beach slowly receded, he confessed to me, his son, ‘I feel like there’s something more for me; but I’m just not sure what.’
An aging world
My father is part of a larger, global trend. The world—and the Christian church—is aging quickly:
Roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each day in the US, and, this year, for the first time in American history, there will be more Americans over age 60 than under 18.
By 2050, the global population of adults over age 65 is expected to double to 1.6 billion.
The median age of Christians is also on the rise. In the US it is 53 (higher if you are in a mainline denomination); in the UK, 61. Pew reports that Christians, unlike Muslims, are dying faster in Europe than they are being born.
Yet people are also living longer, which makes the current experience of retirement such an awkward fit for people like my father:
For example, if you were born in 1947, you can expect to live to age 85.
If you were born in 1967, your life expectancy is 91.
For those born in 2007, life expectancy is now 103.
In an age of human longevity, people are asking how they are going to spend what could be 20, 30 or even 40 years after official retirement.
Furthermore, governments are asking how they are going to foot the bill. A USA Today staff editorial claims, ‘The Congressional Budget Office estimates that in just ten years, half of all federal spending (except for debt service) will be benefits to senior citizens.’ As global pensions are stretched (especially in Europe), promises of never-ending government benefits for retirees are looking thinner by the day. One TIME magazine article made the case that China’s aging population is a major threat to its future, largely due to its one-child policy and the imbalance of older to younger adults. Many believe an aging population is China’s biggest economic problem.
Globally, paradigms for aging are beginning to show cracks. The notion of sitting on the porch while living out one’s ‘golden years’ is becoming less attractive to healthy, older adults. Yet that ambition is tempered by the fact that most retirees have deep seated (and empirically founded) fears about affording the retirement ‘dream’. Why, then, in an age where people are healthier for much longer than at any time in modern history, does the idea of ‘retirement’ persist?
One reason is that retirementmay be the most lucrative idea in the global economy. By one estimate, the US retirement industry alone is worth about USD 27 trillion. While we have rarely connected the global economy and the notion of retirement, the primary reason most individuals invest in the stock market is that they are saving for retirement. Work, often laced with deep money-based fears, becomes a frenzy of activity all directed toward the goal of ‘hitting your number’ so that you can finally retire and ‘be free’.
Have Christians been complicit in this narrative? What can be done to reform our views of work, rest, aging, and retirement in a new moment in global history?
The time has come to change our views about retirement—not only for the sake of the global economy, but for the sake of the millions of men and women, like my father, who are longing to make a meaningful contribution with their lives, but live in a society that has relegated them to the margins.
Christians have started to reimagine retirement, but efforts to date are incomplete. Some Christians have attempted to baptize the idea of the retirement village, without a deeper view of age, rest, vocation, and elderhood. Several of these faith-based living communities exist around the world, yet look very much like secular retirement communities, complete with pools, shopping, happy hour, and golf courses. The only visible difference is more Bible studies.
Other leading voices are calling for Christians neverto retire. ‘Lord, spare me the curse of retirement!’, says John Piper, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Yet the problem with the ‘never retire’ stance is that people are tired—sometimes physically, almost always spiritually—from their careers. When we observe that 87 percent of the world is disengaged from their work and that many have made their work their religion, it becomes understandable that as soon as people are eligible to retire, they generally do. What is needed is a recovery of the balance between work and rest, not a call to plough the thistles and thorns until you die (Gen 3:17-18).
Other proposals from Christians call for various versions of ‘refirement’ or ‘rehirement’—calls to muster new energy in retirement—but often fail to acknowledge that work can, and should, change as we age. The closest the Bible comes to the subject of retirement is Numbers 8:25: ‘And from the age of 50 years they [the Levites] shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more’. Since hauling around the furniture of the tabernacle was hard physical labor, later in life Levites were commanded to ‘minister to their brothers in the tent of the meeting’, a hint that God did not intend for our work to stop completely, but to morph and mature with age.
Finally, many aging churches and denominations organize a ‘seniors’ ministry’ for the ‘elderly’; but can we do better than pulling older adults out of society and recruiting them to be door greeters?
Four practical suggestions
Here are four practical ways to bring biblical hope to the millions of men and women approaching or experiencing retirement:
1. Encourage rhythms of rest, renewal and re-engagement as people enter retirement.
What if Christian leaders across the world encouraged those entering retirement to take an intentional three, six, or twelve months of Sabbath rest, rather than planning for a vacation? Leviticus 25 and the Ten Commandments suggest that God intends not only for a day of rest, but seasons of rest, in order to reorient the heart to trust God, re-center one’s identity in being God’s people, and heal social divides.
Brad Hewitt, the recently retired CEO of Thrivent Financial, says: ‘After being in executive leadership for 25 years, I decided to take a sabbatical before the next season of service. I know I need to slow down before I jump into something else. This sabbatical season may be short, yet at the end I trust God will show me the next place or way to serve.’ Hewitt plans on a six-month sabbatical to pray, be silent, rebuild old relationships, and listen to God’s call for his next assignment.
2. Change the conversation from one of benefits to championing the work of elders in our communities.
Today, conversations around retirement are often embroiled in controversy. As pension funds buckle (like that of the state of Illinois, which has a USD 134 billion hole in its public pension system), older adults are often seen as a problem to be solved. To call somebody ‘elderly’ is an insult. However, the Judaeo-Christian tradition shows us elders were once associated with wisdom, character, and leadership ability, the assumed fruit of experience and age (Lev 19:32).
As older Americans re-engage in both paid and unpaid roles, the way to normalize this biblical notion of ‘love your neighbor’ through our vocations in the latter years is through storytelling. Marc Freedman, the talented CEO of Encore.org, is leading the way in telling these stories of intergenerational friendships, civic service, and the counter-cultural decision to work—even after ‘retirement’.
3. Challenge financial advisors to counsel their clients to consider the different seasons of work over a lifetime.
The cultural caretakers of the idea of retirement are financial advisors, and they have a critical role to play in the future of an aging world. Rather than unthinkingly adopting secular notions of retirement as self-focused pleasure, what if they spoke with clients about seasons of work and rest over a lifetime?
Alongside encouraging generous giving, wise spending, prudent saving, and investing in businesses that align with God’s good purposes for the world, financial advisors could be the key change agents in healing broken notions of vocation and elderhood for an aging world.
4. Encourage intergenerational relationships in the church.
Elders have much to give a coming generation. Rather than practicing age-segregation, many churches are deploying the elders of their congregation for the well-being of a coming generation:
Providence Mount St Vincent’s Intergenerational Learning Center in Seattle—the subject of the documentary film ‘The Growing Season’—has excelled at spawning intergenerational relationships.
St John’s-St Margaret’s Church in Singapore has built Project Spring-Winter, inspired in part by Zechariah’s vision, ‘Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem. . . and the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets’, (Zech 8:4-5).
A biblical picture of retirement is not one of heroism nor hedonism, but listening to God’s voice and responding in love as elders, intent on sharing wisdom and blessing with the next generation. It is simply a life of service, pointing beyond our self to the Servant in whose image we are made.
I recently called my father. He told me he was contemplating a new way to spend his retirement. After caring for his dying sister, and having always felt an acute concern for ailing family and friends, he told me that after a career in advertising he was going to attend a training session to become a hospice volunteer at Knute Nelson Hospice in Alexandria, Minnesota.
‘I think I could do that, Jeff’, he told me, contemplating a new vocation. ‘I visited my dying friend Hugh today. It was a powerful reminder of what a beautiful gift each new day is.’
 This story was adapted from my book An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life (Chicago: Moody, 2019).
 Editor’s Note: See article by Peter Brierley, entitled, ‘The Aging Church and Its Implications’, in May 2016 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2016-05/ aging-church-implications.
 Glenn Kessler, ‘Do 10,000 Baby Boomers Retire Every Day?’ Wall Street Journal, 24July 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/07/24/do-10000-baby-boomers-retire-every-day/?utm_term=.b8f3e33fe0b1.
 Marc Freedman, ‘Building Bridges Across the Generational Divide’, Wall Street Journal, 1 November 2018, http://webreprints.djreprints.com/4460340932488.html.
 Wan He, Daniel Goodkind, and Paul Kowal, ‘An Aging World: 2015’, United States Census Bureau, March 2016, https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p95-16-1.pdf.
 Conrace Hackett and David McClendon, ‘Christians Remain World’s Largest Religious Group, But They Are Declining in Europe’, Pew Research Center, April 5, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/05/christians-remain-worlds-largest-religious-group-but-they-are-declining-in-europe/.
 ‘No Matter Your Age, Ignore It At Your Peril’, 100 Year Life website, accessed on 28 December 2017: http://www.100yearlife.com/the-challenge/.
 ‘Social Security Plan Robs from Future to Pay for Past’, USA Today, 13 February 2019: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/02/13/democrats-social-security-plan-robs-future-pay-past-editorials-debates/2861184002/, emphasis mine.
 John Mauldin, ‘Europe’s Pension Funds Are Running Low as Boomer Retire’, Forbes, 2 July 2018: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmauldin/2018/07/02/europes-pension-funds-are-running-low-as-boomers-retire/#329a34af63a0.
 Charlie Campbell, ‘China’s Aging Population is a Major Threat to Its Future’, TIME, 7 February 2019: http://time.com/5523805/china-aging-population-working-age/.
 Nancy Cook, ‘Will Baby Boomers Change the Meaning of Retirement?’, The Atlantic, 18 June 2015: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/baby-boomers-retirement/396950/.
 Heather Gillers, Anne Tergesen and Leslie Scism, ‘A Generation of Americans is Entering Old Age the Least Prepared in Decades’, The Wall Street Journal, 22 June 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-generation-of-americans-is-entering-old-age-the-least-prepared-in-decades-1529676033?mod=hp_lead_pos5.
 Nick Thornton, ‘Here’s What the $27 Trillion US Retirement Industry Looks Like’, Think Advisor, 2 January 2018, https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2018/01/02/heres-what-the-27-trillion-us-retirement-industry/?slreturn=20180714204623.
 Editor’s Note: See article by Mats Tunehag, entitled, ‘Creating and Sharing Wealth’, in May 2019 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2019-05/creating-and-sharing-wealth.
“The first thing you have to know about retirement,” says Allan Spies, a 68-year-old retired US West executive, “is that you could live another 40 years.”
Spies recalled a conversation he had with his pastor
when he was on the cusp of an early retirement in his 50s. The pastor reminded
Spies of all the time he had ahead of him As
Spies started to spend his newfound time, he was also jarred by how much his
schedule changed. “The other thing you’ve got to know,” he says, “is that suddenly
your clock changes.”
Many enter retirement
busied and harried from the last few months of work. Then, like jumping off a
moving train, the forward momentum comes to an abrupt halt. Weekdays melt into
weekends. Long breakfasts can become early lunches. The time that was lacking
in the pressure of raising a family and pursuing a career now floods into a
After an initial
honeymoon period, many early retirees find themselves quickly looking for
structure to their days and weeks. “I had to do something,” says Lynn Haanen,
about her early retirement. “My days lacked a schedule and a sense of purpose.”
Initially relieved to leave the “grind” of teaching third graders, Lynn (my
mom) gloried in finally having time to herself. But eventually, she realized her
weeks were amorphous and needing structure.
Her life in retirement
had traded the stopwatch for the lava lamp, with hours and days slowly blobbing
into each other without direction.
For millions of
Americans, early retirement can feel like entering Dr. Seuss’s “The Waiting
Place.” In his classic Oh, the Places
You’ll Go!, Seuss warns about “a most useless place” for “people just
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
Fear of being caught
in a useless cycle of waiting leads many to backfill their days with
activities, errands, and “busy work” to avoid the anxiety of purposelessness.
Time becomes a burden, something to be used up, like too much corn overflowing
a silo after harvest. “Oh, I stay busy,” becomes the anxious response to “How’s
New research shows
that human longevity is giving people a newfound abundance of years – a change
few have planned for.
Time, Time, and More Time
In 1900, the average male
could expect to live to age 46, and the average female age, 48.
Today, “if you are now 20 you have a 50 per cent chance of living to more than
100; if you are 40 you have an even chance of reaching 95; if you are 60, then
a 50 per cent chance of making 90 or more.” Over the last 200 years, life
expectancy has increased at a rate of more than two years every decade.
If you retire at age 65, this
means that you will have an evens chance of living 25 years beyond retirement.
(Studies show that half of Americans retire from ages 61-65, and a full
two-thirds of Americans are out of the full-time workforce by age 66.)
If you exercise, eat healthy, minimize alcohol consumption and have generally
healthy relationships, plan on at least three more decades of life.
In Lynda Gratton and
Andrew Scott’s fascinating book The 100
Year-Life, they see drastic changes coming to the world in the next 50
years as it ages – and lives longer than ever before.
Out of necessity, people
will work into their 70s and 80s.
Gratton and Scott ask their MBA students at the London Business School, “If you
live you 100 years, save around 10 percent of your income and want to retire on
50 percent of your final salary, at what age will you be able to retire?” The
answer: in your 80s. Human longevity is changing the equation of financial
planners and government pensions.
There will be new jobs,
skills, and a new need for life-long education. If you live to 100 and work into your 70s and 80s,
the economy will likely have been completely transformed since your high
school, undergraduate, or graduate education. The need to learn new job skills
– and to take time to re-invest in your education – will rise in importance.
Family and home
relationships will be transformed.
Four generations living at the same time will become a norm, and as Baby Boomer
budgets are stressed, intergenerational living will become commonplace.
People will be younger
for longer. With advances in medical
technology, many reporters and social observers have said “60 is the new 50.”
Though we should carry a healthy skepticism of the “forever young” narrative of
our culture (as we’ll explore in the next chapter), we also shouldn’t ignore
the fact that people are now living longer, healthier lives than ever before.
One of the most
fascinating changes already happening due to human longevity is that the
three-stage life is starting to lose its meaning. For generations, it was assumed
that you lived in three stages: first education, then employment, and finally
retirement. (Many Christian books have adopted this paradigm and called
retirement a “third third,” or a “third calling.” Other books have assumed that
“aging” and “retirement” are the same topic, which is no longer true. “Old age”
is something that – for most – will happen decades later.) But today, the
seasons of life dedicated to work, family, education and rest will become more
fluid. You might start a new career at 50, become an undergraduate at 60, and a
great grandparent at 70.
Christianity can, and
should, dump a bucket of cold water on much of a secular culture’s near-worship
of the medical technology that has elongated our lives. “From dust we came,” we
say on Ash Wednesday, “and to dust we shall return.”
But Christian thinkers,
pastors, and leaders also need to lead the way in communicating that retirement
is quite simply no longer a life stage “preparing for the end,” but instead a
contemporary social construct that allows men and women to prepare for a new
season of life.
We’ll have to start asking better questions: what will you do with all of this time in retirement? What might Christian faith say about these newfound hours, days, weeks, months and years that lay ahead?
Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott, The 100
Year-Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity (London: Bloomsbury,
Emily Brandon, “The Ideal Retirement Age – and Why You Won’t Retire Then,” US News & World Report, 12 May 2014,
Accessed on June 15, 2018: https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2014/05/12/the-ideal-retirement-age-and-why-you-wont-retire-then.
Dan Kadlec, “The Ages When Most People Retire (Hint: Probably Too Young),” Time, 1 December 2016, Accessed on
August 12, 2018: http://time.com/money/4584900/ages-people-retire-probably-too-young-early-retirement/.
Financial advisors play a critical role in the future of America.
They are stewards of a sacred trust, helping clients to save money for when they can no longer work, live a life of generosity, invest in businesses that align with God’s purposes for the world, spend wisely, and re-discover their calling to work and serve their neighbors over a lifetime.
If you’re a financial advisor, or you know one, what might it look like integrate Christian truth into this entire field, a $27 trillion-dollar industry that is shaping the destinies of millions?[i] (Click here to access a free downloadable pdf of this “Manifesto for Financial Advisors.”)
Here’s a place to begin.
1.Christian financial advisors help clients save money for when they can no longer work.
wise (Proverbs 21:20). Financial advisors have the privilege of encouraging
people to prepare for the day when they cannot work due to old age or health.
They also have the honor of helping clients still have enough to share with
others (Proverbs 13:22; 1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Christian financial advisors resolutely resist the narrative about saving for
retirement built on utopian dreams of travel, never-ending vacation, and a
care-free lifestyle. They recognize that sin and the Fall have affected all
people, both wealthy and poor, and that there is no such dream of heaven on
earth until Christ comes again. They also boldly call into question fear-based
motives for saving in retirement, pointing people to trust God alone for their
since retirement (the cessation of work for a lifetime) is essentially a
foreign concept to the Bible, Christian financial advisors work diligently to
help people save for the day when they can no longer work due to health
concerns, not for the day when they don’t want to work.
is to be human.
Financials advisors help their clients save money for retirement in order to provide for themselves in old age or illness, their family, and their community.
2. Christian financial advisors encourage clients to live a life of generosity.
call to generous giving could not be clearer (Matthew 6:19-21; 10:42; Luke 21:1-4;
2 Corinthians 8:12-15; 1 John 3:16-18; Proverbs 11:24-25). Generous living most
closely reflects God’s grace toward his people (2 Corinthians 8:9).
financial advisors counsel clients toward sacrificial giving toward the mission
of the church, the well-being of the poor, and the critical social, economic,
and cultural needs of our day. They explore creative ways to facilitate their
clients giving their cash, assets, time, skills, relationships, and influence.
They lead by example.
Even though Christian financial advisors often don’t have a financial incentive to encourage generosity amongst their clients, they do so anyway because God first gave generously to them (John 3:16).
3. Christian financial advisors counsel their clients to invest in businesses that align with God’s purposes for the world.
financial advisors believe that God owns everything (Psalm 24:1), including
both their client’s money and also the money that is invested in companies
through stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
leaders in the space of socially responsible investing (some Christians also
call this values-based investing, or biblically responsible investing). They
believe God’s purpose for business is to provide for the needs of world by
serving customers and creating meaningful work, while giving glory to God.[ii]
Profit, therefore, is a means to an end, not the end of business. They believe
investments are intended to help businesses grow and bless their communities.
Christian financial advisors also believe business has been tainted by the
Fall, and today corporations, like individuals, are bent toward greed and
injustice (Micah 6:8-10). There are no “neutral” investments.
Inasmuch as they are able, Christian financial advisors seek out investments for their clients that align with their client’s values and God’s good purposes for business. They take leadership in providing ample returns for their clients and multiplied societal blessing through their client’s investments.[iii]
4. Christian financial advisors counsel their clients to spend wisely.
given us money to be enjoyed and spent wisely. But Christian financial advisors
also recognize that “godliness with contentment is great gain,” and Christian
history is filled with vows of poverty and commitment to simple living for the
sake of more deeply enjoying the riches of Christ (1 Timothy 6:6, 17-19). Frugality is not a curse but a means to
experiencing the abundance of God’s love, care, and heavenly riches.
financial advisors are uniquely able to speak to our cultural moment and the
current “retirement crisis” because they believe God himself, not the pleasures
of this world, is our greatest joy. They believe in a deeper wealth than what
money can offer.[iv]
Christian financial advisors counsel their clients to avoid debt, live within their means, defer gratification, and discover non-consumeristic ways to enjoy life and God’s good world.
5. Christian financial advisors counsel their clients to consider the different seasons of work over a lifetime.
financial advisors see God’s pattern of six days of work and one day of rest as
a blessing that lasts for a lifetime.
than preparing clients to completely cease from work at retirement, they
encourage sabbaticals and seasons of rest to renew a sense of calling for the
next phase of life.
they are instigators of a deeply counter-cultural movement. They begin to help
clients save money for both sabbaticals and for when their clients can no
longer work. They ask pointed questions to help their clients see a deeper
purpose to life than entertainment or pleasure. Christian financial advisors, then, become
sages, mentors, theologians, and philosophers who help their clients prepare
for the next season of work, whether they are 60, 70, or 80 years old.[v]
financial advisors are the innovators who call for a new movement of work,
sabbatical, and re-engagement based on God’s design for work over a lifetime
(Leviticus 25).[vi] They openly challenge
the Let’s vacation paradigm of
retirement, and honor the men and women who work later in life as the dignified
elders of our churches, communities, and society.
They are the first to point out the valuable, brilliant, and creative work of men and women stewarding their skills, knowledge, and abilities into the sunset of their lives.
[i] Nick Thornton, “Here’s What the $27 Trillion US
Retirement Industry Looks Like,” Think Advisor, 2 January 2018, Accessed on
August 10, 2018:
[ii] Jeff Haanen, “Theology for Business (Video),” Denver
Institute for Faith & Work, Accessed on August 1, 2018:
[iii] Organizations like the Christian Investment Forum and
faith-friendly mutual funds like Eventide Funds actively explore how to pursue
competitive returns for their shareholders while upholding Christian values.
For examples of philosophies of Christian faith and investing, watch the video
“Investing 360 – The Story of Eventide Funds”: https://vimeo.com/223488058 or read “Integrating Faith Into the Way We Invest,”
by Tim Macready, CIO of Christian Super, an Australian Pension Fund: https://denverinstitute.org/integrating-faith-way-invest/.
[iv] For an excellent treatment on faith, money, and
retirement, see: Chad S. Hamilton, Deep
Wealth (Denver: PFI Publishing, 2015).
[v] I recognize this is almost unheard of today. But my
thesis in this book is that this rhythm of work and rest is more biblical than
the contemporary idea of retirement and it more closely aligns with God’s
intent for us to work, in different capacities, over a lifetime.
[vi] Rob West, the CEO of Kingdom Advisors, a Christian
ministry to financial professionals, says, “One of the roles of the advisor is
to not only help the client to answer the question, ‘How much is enough
financially?’ – in terms of our financial finish line so we can maximize giving
– but also, ‘What are you going to do in the retirement season?’ Even if we
stop our vocation, what are we going to do to be of service to the Lord
full-time for God’s glory?” Both Rob West and Ron Blue, the founder of Ron Blue
Co. believe both wise financial decisions and a lifetime of work, which changes
in different seasons, are biblical.
We have an opportunity in this moment to push on our culture’s view of retirement, and give our friends, parents, family members, neighbors, and co-workers a more beautiful vision of work, rest, eldership, and a life a sacrificial love based in the hope of the gospel.
In the coming weeks, I’ll post on this blog excerpts from the book. Can I ask you a big favor? Would you consider taking about 3 minutes and posting a review of the book on Amazon.com today?
Here are a few themes you might consider mentioning. An Uncommon Guide for Retirement helps readers:
Discern God’s call for their retirement years;
Challenge cultural assumptions about retirement;
Adopt a healthy vision for Sabbath rest, work and meaningful contribution for a lifetime;
Embrace a biblical view of time and a deeper understanding of what human longevity means for the retirement years;
Live out practical insight for retirement living on topics like learning, family systems, mentoring, and health.
Thanks for allowing me to to learn from you. If you’d like more information on the book, group discounts or the free study guide, make sure to visit UncommonRetirement.com. And feel free to leave comments on this blog!