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Retirement about more than leisure, former denominational worker says

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Planning for retirement includes more than just managing your finances and dreaming about how you’ll spend your leisure time, Howard Foshee believes.
“Retirement is something of a misnomer. You don’t retire from life; you retire from a job,” Foshee said during his July 19 seminar, “Getting Prepared for the Second Half,” which was part of Discipleship and Family Week at LifeWay Conference Center Glorieta.
Foshee retired 10 years ago after more than three decades of service at the Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn. During that time he was director of strategic planning services, the Christian development division and church administration department. He also edited church administration materials and wrote several Christian books.
“God has a plan for us in all the stages of our lives, and retirement is just one of those phases,” Foshee said. “But too many people enter retirement without any vision or goals.”
Part of the problem, especially for men, is that they “are totally identified by their job. And when that’s over, they feel like their whole life is over. But that just isn’t true. “I was fortunate to have worked in a job that I loved; it was very fulfilling. But it wasn’t my life. I realized retirement was just a new phase. I didn’t have to stop growing and learning and giving. I just had to find new ways to do them.”
About three years before retiring, Foshee went through a strategic planning process to examine how he would spend his “golden years.” He shared these steps for “opening up retirement and making it all that God has planned for you.”
First, a person or couple needs to develop a purpose or mission statement that gets at who they want to be after retirement. It should answer questions such as, “What do I want to contribute?” “What are my foundational principles or core values?” and “What legacy do I want to leave?”
Next, comes a “situation analysis,” an honest look at your “SWOTs” — strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. Perhaps a strength is more free time and the ability to travel, while a weakness could be reduced finances. A threat could be some type of health problem and an opportunity could involve a new ministry at your church. Once you make an honest assessment, Foshee said, you can begin developing ways to address your weaknesses and threats and take advantage of your strengths and opportunities.
This knowledge helps determine your vision — what you want to do in your retirement years — which Foshee identified as the third step in planning for retirement. A good definition of vision, he said, is provided by Christian author and futurist George Barna, who described it as “a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to his chosen servants and based upon understanding of God, self and circumstance.” “Vision is God-revealed, not man-conceived,” Foshee explained. “It most often comes in our quiet time, our devotional life, our time alone with God.”
Once a person has a vision, the next step is developing objectives to achieve it, i.e. listing long-range priority needs in several categories, such as spiritual life, family, physical, financial and personal growth. Out of these objectives grow goals and actions for accomplishing them.
Foshee and his wife, Zola, who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, added the category of “heritage” to their list of objectives.
“We started thinking about what we want to leave behind. And it’s more than just material things,” Foshee said. “We’re looking into our genealogy and writing our life stories to give to our children and grandchildren.
“So many times in retirement we keep thinking of leisure — what we can get out life,” Foshee said. “We need to think about what we still can give to life. That’s where real fulfillment comes.”
Discipleship and Family Week at LifeWay’s Glorieta, N.M., conference center was sponsored by the agency’s discipleship and family development division.

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  • Chip Alford