Age is a weird conversation. Something is always the new something else. Thirty was once the new twenty. Forty the new thirty. And now fifty, well, I am not sure what fifty will become. But, as I live out my fifth decade somewhere in middle-life, I have the interesting perspective of being able to look back and looking ahead. While still climbing new mountains in front of me, there are summits behind me I have left. I am living in the valley of mid-life.
Retirement Plan in Numbers 8
In an interesting twist, Moses spoke to mid-life regarding the Levites. In Numbers 8, the Lord lays out the age requirements for those serving in the Tent of Meeting, starting at age 25. Retirement age 50. I am not sure my 401k is set for me to stop working at 50.
There was purpose in the plan. While seemingly a young man at 50, which may be the new forty, the Lord was creating a plan of the longevity of the Tent of Meeting. These retired Levites did not pack up their sandals and settle off in the sunny seaside villas of the promised land. No, they would stay on and assist their brothers. What we have outlined are mentorship and succession.
I often wonder why my life is caught between two summits, one behind and one ahead if I will be wise enough to clear a path for someone to come behind me. I currently evaluate and look around my camp to see if I, like Moses in my sphere, have adopted a Joshua to leave it all to, not when my time has come, but when his time is ready. I think that is the trouble with succession; the one who is handing off the mantle waits too long.
I write these words knowing not all of us are pastors or ministers. I click and clang across the keyboard, knowing some are business people, entrepreneurs, shift workers, and over-the-road drivers. We all wear different hats in our life. Yet, I think the value is true for all of us in two simple questions: 1) What are we leaving behind and 2) Who are we leaving it to?
What’s Your Retirement Age?
These are not questions about your will or your baseball card collection. These are questions about your values, beliefs, and work in God’s Kingdom as a disciple of Jesus. These are the questions of investments that won’t be found in your retirement account but will be credited to you on the other side of eternity. I think Numbers 8 puts an age of the time the Levites work in the tent: if I know that I eventually have to give it away, it will never only be mine.
If, in truth, we are to live and work as if everything is unto the Lord, then how we live and work would never really be about us. It would be about him. And if it is about the Lord, then why would we not want longevity in what we do. The most significant way for what we do to be carried on is to give it away to the generation behind us.
Even if seventy is the new sixty, I want to live my life handing off what God has given me who are actually in their twenties and thirties. This is what Jesus did. The whole gospel was given over to a rag-tag group of men who were left standing in Jerusalem when he ascended into Heaven. They were given the reins to the whole operation. Give the keys to the shop. Give the responsibility to carry the mission and vision forward. And I think they did okay because 2000 plus years later, we are still doing this thing called church.
So what is your retirement age?
Jeff Pitts is a church planter in Cleveland, TN. He loves his family, coffee, and NEEDTOBREATHE.