Retirement: Keeping Yourself Occupied

A good friend of mine who knows I have retired and is concerned, asked me, “Brother, how are you keeping yourself occupied?”. As I framed my reply, I thought, “Hey, this would make a good blogpost.” I decided to post my reply to him in my blog, thinking there may be retirees, pastors and laypeople, asking how best to occupy themselves after their retirement.

I am still in the honeymoon and adjustment period and this may not be what I will do after the “honeymoon” is over. Some retirees tell me that after a year or two of feeling happy to be free of all burdens and responsibilities, time management issues, social and financial realities kick in. I doubt I will face the challenge of having lots of free time with nothing meaningful to do. Perhaps, a later blogpost would be needed for an update then.

For the time being, I use a model that served me well when I had my weekly Monday off, or when sabbatical months were given to me. I would be mindful of three key words which I derive from Bible study on the purpose of the sabbath day in the Old Testament. The key words are REMEMBER (to attend to God’s word and presence), REST (to give attention to physical and soul rest), and RELISH (to take delight in activities and matters that give you life).  I give priority to meeting these three purposes each day, and if not possible, then to each week.

The activities or matters that belong to each purpose can be different and is flexible day by day, week by week. And the listed items too will get changed. To be more specific this is what the categories and items look like:

REMEMBER

Scripture meditation (currently Psalms)

Bible study (currently Ezekiel)

Prayer

Review of the day

Intercession

Reading Christian literature (dipping into various books)

Participating in worship service 

REST

Adequate sleep and afternoon naps when needed

Swimming

Walking/hiking

Cycling the park connectors

Stretching and strengthening exercises

RELISH 

Time with grandkids and family

Meeting with friends and pastors

Journeying with younger pastors

Writing and social media

Books, dramas and movies

Photography

In addition to these, there are all the household chores and tasks that seldom get done when I was actively pastoring the church. Things like decluttering, re-organising stuff, car maintenance, purchasing stuff I need, filling up warranty cards, and tiny repair jobs. I was surprised the amount of time and attention to details it took, and doubly surprised by my energy to do it. What seems to be left behind are big projects like clearing and tidying up the store room, painting all the ceilings and rooms, using my Skills Future credits, and learning how to better use my new mirrorless camera.

These, as you can see easily fills up my calendar, fills up my emotional tank, and my spiritual reserves. I suppose that with time, some items will be taken off the list, and new ones added. Some will be more frequently done, some regularly, and others occasionally. There is structure but spontaneity and flexibility as well. 

I am contented with the place I am in. I do not feel restless. I used to take pleasure in the fact that I did not have to bear certain leadership responsibilities on certain days like Tuesday staff meetings and Sunday Worship, thanking God for being free from that, while others carry them, but not anymore. I have a settled rhythm and feel the Lord has brought me to a place of space, abundance and peace. I focus on being faithful in obeying the Spirit and what he has assigned me thus far. After all the main idea is not to occupy the time productively but to be occupied with Him and what he wants of us.

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