By Kermit Rowe
Encompass Relationship Facilitator
To a great degree, we are what we think. The decisions we make and actions we take are dictated to a large degree by the self-talk we have and the thoughts that self-talk generates.
So, when we live in a society that does not put a premium on aging, if the elderly believe what society tells them, then they can easily fall into what I call “the downhill mentality.” Our culture is not particularly kind to its aging population, hence the perception that we are “over the hill” once we hit the age of 40. And, like we just said, we are what we think.
The Bible tells a different story about aging. Instead of the elderly’s value to society decreasing as their perceived production decreases, we see in the pages of Scripture that life experience and the wisdom that comes from it are cherished and revered. We see patriarchs held in high honor, setting the leadership tone for their family tree and pronouncing blessings before moving off the scene and into eternity.
We see them finishing well, which is Encompass Connection Center’s theme for blogs this month.
So how can we “flip the switch” on culture’s “downhill mentality?” A new Christian non-profit called Retirement Reformation is offering a “Rethinking Retirement” Bible study with truth-based suggestions on how to maximize our golden years of ministry.
The study starts with a multiple-choice knowledge inventory that assesses how much we know about living the last third of our life well. The point is made that “old age is a new thing.” Stone Agers’ life span was about 20 years … if they were lucky. By 1900, that average lifespan increased to just 31 years. By the time America had established Social Security in 1935, the average lifespan had nearly doubled to 58. And it continues to rise each year with more medical advancements.
The study looks at three stages of life: Learning, doing, and finishing. Then it challenges us to appreciate our gifts and abilities, which are given to us by God. Stewarding those gifts and abilities then discovering and living out our calling (hint: each of us has one) are next. These bring into focus a vision and mission for our final years. Then you are guided on how to develop your own action plan that puts you in a position for God to maximize your impact on His kingdom.
To find out more, check out retirementreformation.org.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.