我等不及要退休

By Jim Mathis

身為工商專業人士,我們住在一個有趣的時代。我是屬於美國暱稱為「嬰兒潮」的世代,我們這一代許多人工作的主要目標是退休。

最好的例子是最近我在一個派對上聽到一段對話。一個快要退休的人說他等不及要趕快離開他的工作。他說他痛恨他的工作,而他每天繼續工作的唯一原因是他需要錢。

我沒有對他說任何話,但我心想:「多麼可憐的生活!」我無法想像自己的生活是恨惡我花最多時間做的事。有些工作比其他工作有更多報酬。雖然我在工作中也經歷過沮喪,但我仍然愛我的工作。有時我的工作並無法給我啟發,但我每天在工作中所遇到的人以及在與他們互動時能夠啟發我。

當我聽到人們說他們渴望退休,我總是想到工作本身的價值。事實上,聖經有許多經文都談到工作的尊貴。例如歌羅西書3章23節說,我們無論作什麼都要從心裡作。畢竟,我們最終都是為主作的。

舊約中的傳道書有許多關於努力工作並樂在工作的勸誡。傳道書3章22節說:「故此,我見人莫強如在他經營的事上喜樂,因為這是他的分。他身後的事誰能使他回來得見呢?」英文聖經另一個普遍的版本,信息版說:「所以我決定,沒有任何一件事比我們享受自己所做的事更好,那是我們的分。」工作可能是困難且有挑戰性,但在上帝的設計下,工作也是可享受的。

箴言22章29節說:「你看見辦事殷勤的人嗎?他必站在君王面前。」你可能會說成功的秘訣是把工作做好並展示給人們看。今天我們稱之為「產品和行銷」。我認為應該強調產品,而不是努力說服人們去購買。換言之,就是「做出好東西」。若你這麼做,你要銷售就沒有問題。

當我們以這種方式工作,退休的念頭就沒有什麼吸引力。事實上,我並不期待身體無法工作的時候。當我到了那一時刻,我可能必須要停止工作;但我不打算因為工作年資已滿就停止工作。把退休與一個人已存了多少錢連結起來也似乎是微不足道的追求。

聖經很少談到退休這個主題。這個詞彙很少被使用,當被用到時,那意味著「退出」。工作的主要目標僅僅只是為了到達某個時間點,你就可以退出有生產力的生活嗎?聖經唯一談及退休之處在利未記,祭司要在50歲退休--但即使到了這個歲數,他們還是要繼續協助較年輕的祭司。

我們今天所知道的退休觀念是最近的現象,在20世紀因為人的壽命較長和工業革命,就帶來退休的觀念。從大約60年前開始,退休才成為許多人的渴望。只在幾世代以前,退休被認為是「太老了而無法工作」或「放牛吃草」。除非你老到無法工作只能吃草,要不然還是學習樂在工作吧!

吉姆.馬提斯在堪薩斯州陸路公園市經營一家照相館。他的專長是商業和影劇界人像。他也經營一所攝影學校。他還寫了一本書「一般民眾的高度攝影表現」,那是一本有關數位攝影的書。他曾是一家咖啡店的經理,也曾是CBMC在堪薩斯州堪薩斯市和密蘇里州堪薩斯市的執行主任。

省思 / 討論題目
你怎麼看待你的工作?你對它主要是持正面或負面的態度?請解釋。 你所處的文化如何塑造你對退休的觀念? 根據你所讀的這篇週一嗎哪,你是否認為有需要調整你對工作的看法以符合聖經的觀點?為什麼? 你可以在你的工作中作什麼改變,使工作更愉快,因此你不再需要把退休當作是你想要的「逃避」?註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
民數記8章23-26節;箴言10章4-5、7節,11章30節,12章11節,13章9節,16章26節,20章13節,21章5節,23章4-5節,27章18節

“I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL I CAN RETIRE”
By Jim Mathis

We live in interesting times as business and professional people. I am a part of a generation in the United States that has been given the nickname of “Baby Boomers,” and for many of us, the primary aim at work is to retire.

Case in point, I recently overheard a conversation at a party. A man who was nearing retirement commented that he could hardly wait until he could quit his work. He said he hated his job and the only reason he continued going to work each day was he needed the money.

I did not say anything to him, but my thought was, “What a pitiful way to live.” I cannot imagine going through life hating what I spend the greatest portion of my time doing. Some jobs are more rewarding than others. But even when I experience discouraging days, I still love what I do. At times in my life the work I was doing might not have not been inspiring, but the people I encountered on a daily basis were inspiring to know and interact with.

When I hear people talking yearningly about retirement, I always think about the intrinsic value of work. In fact, there are many references in the Bible that speak to the nobility of work. Colossians 3:23, for instance, says we are to work with all our hearts at whatever we do. After all, it says, ultimately we are working as for the Lord.

The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes has many admonitions to work hard and enjoy it. Ecclesiastes 3:22 says, “So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?” In the popular paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, it says, “So I made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do – that’s our lot.” Work may be difficult and challenging, but God designed work also to be enjoyed.

Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings.” You might say the secret to success is to do good work and then show it to people. Today we call that “product and marketing.” I believe the emphasis should be put on the product and not the effort to persuade people to purchase it. In other words, “Make good stuff.” If you do, you will have no trouble selling it.

When we work in this way, the idea of retiring becomes much less appealing. In fact, I am not at all looking forward to a time when I may not be physically able to do what I do. When I get to that point I might have to stop out of necessity; but I do not intend to stop working just because the calendar says I have put in enough time. Connecting retirement with how much money a person has saved also seems like a rather trivial pursuit.

There is very little guidance from the Scriptures on the subject of retirement. The word is rarely used, and when it is, it means to “withdraw.” Is the main goal of work simply to reach a time when you can withdraw from productive living? The only actual reference to retirement in the Bible pertains to Levites, priests instructed to retire at the age of 50 – but even then they were to continue to assist younger priests.

The idea of retiring as we know it today is a recent phenomenon, largely a 20th century idea brought on by longer life spans and the Industrial Revolution. Only in the past 60 years or so has retirement become something many people would aspire to. Only a few generations back, retirement was thought of as “too old to work” or “being put out to pasture.” Unless you are ready to be put out to pasture, learn to enjoy your work!

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
How do you view your work? Do you hold a predominantly positive – or negative – attitude toward it? Explain your answer. How have your opinions of retirement been shaped by the culture in which you live? Based on what you have read in this “Monday Manna,” do you think there might be a need to adjust your view of work to conform to the biblical view? Why or why not? What changes, if any, could you make in your work – or other kinds of work you would like to do – to make it more enjoyable, so you would no longer find it necessary to regard retirement as a desired “escape”?If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages: Numbers 8:23-26; Proverbs 10:4-5,7, 11:30, 12:11, 13:9, 16:26, 20:13, 21:5, 23:4-5, 27:18;

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