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Three Ways to Help Boomers Navigate Work, Retirement and Ministry

Work and Retirement. These words seem like complete opposites, but more and more these two words are showing up in the same sentence as baby boomers re-invent their retirement years. Boomers want to make a difference with their lives, and whether they choose to work for pay or work in a volunteer capacity, we want them to focus their lives towards Kingdom work. How can we help them do this?

1. Challenge boomers to understand that it is perfectly fine to work for less money than they’ve previously made. This is counter-intuitive to the idea that we are to ‘climb the corporate ladder’ and increase our earnings as we get older. A recent article in Market Watch described working in retirement like this, “…we’re at a point where I can do whatever I want to do because my income allows me the flexibility or my assets allow me the flexibility to do it, and I only need to plug in 10 or 20 or $30,000 dollars a year to fill the income pie completely, and that might only be a fraction of what I was earning before at the peak of my career in my 50s or early 60s.”

It’s even alright to work in a ministry and not take a paycheck. I have talked with several older adults who work on the staff of various churches but do not receive a salary and they are happy to invest their lives in the ministry.

2. Help boomers articulate their strengths and what it is they are good at. A variety of assessment tools are available to help boomers identify their strengths. A simple google search will yield many results. It may also be helpful for boomers to take a spiritual gifts inventory. And then there are many adults, who at 50 or 60 years of age, have a pretty good idea of what they do best and what they don’t do very well.

3. Encourage boomers to answer the question: “If I could do anything right now as a job and ministry, what would I do?” I remember asking this one night to a woman in her fifties who told me she would like to retire and travel with her husband in their RV to disaster relief sites and offer help. Asking adults what they would like to do can tap into their passion. Perhaps they have a hobby that can be turned into a ministry or they want to work for a mission organization.

The great news is that many boomers want to work and plan to do more than live a leisure-filled retirement. We just need to help them find the path to this Christ-centered work where they can invest their lives.

How are you helping boomers navigate the work and retirement maze? And, if you are a boomer reading this post, what are your thoughts on work and retirement?

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