Fear is at the center of the cottage industry known as, “You’re not saving enough for retirement.” Research studies, books, magazine articles, blog posts (yes, we’ve written our share) regularly remind people of their generally poor state of retirement preparedness.
The highest tech player in the game is an app that can take a current photo and show people what they’re likely to look like decades into the future. Created by a division of Merrill Lynch, it’s designed to “motivate Americans to face the realities and costs related to retirement.”
In essence, it’s designed to wake people up to the reality that, God willing, they might just live a long life, and if so, they better have some money set aside.
As people get close to the typical retirement age, financial advisors encourage them to consider three risks: market risk, inflation risk, and longevity risk. Longevity risk? When I first heard that term, it brought to mind George Burns’ famous quip, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” As ironic as the term sounds, if you haven’t planned well, living a long life can, indeed, pose a risk to your finances, your quality of life, and more.
So much of later life planning seems to be about covering our costs, as if, “I made it; I had enough” are the most worthy final words to strive for.
Weren’t we made for more than that?
Instead of all the fear mongering that takes place in discussions of later life planning, maybe it would be beneficial to look at the topic through the lens of opportunity. If we are given the gift of a long life, what will we make of it? How might God want to use us in our 70s, 80s, and beyond?
After all, Ephesians 2:10 doesn’t say, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works up until about age 65 or 70, which God prepared in advance for us to do.“ I’m going to take a wild guess and say God intentionally placed no age limits on the lives of good works He designed us to live.
To be sure, part of good stewardship is about making sure we have enough to provide for our families in our later years. And that does involve managing market risk, inflation risk, and longevity risk.
But good stewardship also means managing our longevity opportunity—being prepared to step into the area of impact God has uniquely equipped us for and called us to in our later years.
Thinking about later life planning that way may help us plan better and save more, turning what often feels like a duty and obligation into the preparation for a grand future adventure.
In the midst of writing this article, a friend e-mailed me this article from an organization that’s all about making the most of our later years. It offers some questions you may find helpful.
What vision do you sense God calling you to in your later years?