Legacy in Retirement

After nearly eight full years of an historic presidency, President Barack Obama has had his farewell tour with a speech in Chicago, final interviews as President, and awarded his last Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor to a lifetime politician, his Vice-President Joe Biden. Now what? In Biden’s prior reflection upon his impending retirement, “’I’ve never been gainfully employed in my life,’ he said as the audience laughed. ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do.’”  All humor aside, what do you do about your legacy when all you’ve done previously comes to an end? What does retirement mean? Is it truly the end? Or just a new beginning?

Is it merely a page turn in a book that’s still being written?

I’d argue that retiring TO some activity or FOR IT is far better than retiring FROM something. TO and FOR are future and filled with hope and promise and excitement. FROM sees life in the rearview mirror with a degree of sadness that what you loved has ended. I don’t know about you, but my lifetime achievements won’t be done until my life is.

The Bible’s Qohelet reminds us in Ecclesiastes 9 there is but one destiny that awaits all the living (and I’d add unless Christ should return first but Qohelet can be forgiven because he lived before Jesus Christ was born). That reminder? Life is full of opportunity and hope!  Embrace it!

Ecclesiastes 9: 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope–even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. … 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Verse 10 is good advice for retirement. As long as there is breath in your lungs, you have good and productive work ahead of you, even if it will change as your age and physical condition permit. Same book, different page.

  • I hope and pray that President Obama and Vice-President Biden will find freedom from the snare of power. Its pull is unrelenting. It’s a lust to be sure. I pray they will find useful work to retire to, work that will help and inspire and give them joy as a stronger force counteracting the pull to selfish ambition and power.
  • I pray their work will be to use their former positions to roll up their sleeves, bring attention to a genuine need, and get their hands dirty in a worthy cause of helping the less fortunate to good and godly ends. It’s a better retirement goal than criticizing and tearing down one’s successors.
  • I pray that President Obama and Vice-President Biden, and their families will throw their energies into building a lasting and notable legacy of goodness and productivity, one that will reflect the privilege they know they were given for a time and the grace to acknowledge the page turning on their legacies from power to charity.

Qohelet’s perspective would serve them well, including what follows in Ecclesiastes 9: 11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them…17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Time and chance … and page turns … happen to us all. 
Embrace the simple work of goodness, the hidden beauty of charity, and the quiet words of wisdom in retirement. 

Then, living life will be a very good thing, seeing a beautiful blank page full of promise just waiting for us to roll up our sleeves and make the most and the best of every opportunity! 

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on January 14, 2017

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