Often saving for our retirement as missionaries or pastors is put in juxtaposition to trusting God. One worker said to me, “I don’t have to worry about retirement since I’m trusting God when I get there.” How are you thinking about your own retirement?
As we started in missionary work back in 1974, retirement was the furthest thing from my mind. I was 30 years old, had my most productive years ahead of me, and was focused on the task of getting the Gospel to the world. I had two children when we left for Vienna, but transferred back to the USA fourteen years later with five kids.
During that first stint of international work, our organization, The Navigators, instituted a mandatory retirement 401k program. We didn’t have a choice. They took a percentage of the income that came in every month off the top — pretax dollars. I would look at my monthly statement and moan, “I surely could have used that $150 this month for expenses out here on the field.” If your organization did that to you, how would you feel?
In my case, I’m glad I had wise leaders who were walking the trail ahead of me and thinking of what was wise practice for me. I’m 67 years-old now and in my official “retirement years,” although not yet retired. We are still at the helm of Life Impact, a mission organization that provides missionary and pastor care in hosted facilities. This mandatory 401k has become a huge blessing to us over the past 8 years. I’ll explain more in subsequent posts on this subject. I’ve got a lot to say about missionary retirement!
And about the issue of trusting God for retirement. We surely have the option to trust God however we have the personal faith to do that. But in my view, I can “take thought to my steps” now and trust Him for an extra $150 per month to put away in a retirement savings plan now, rather than be obligated to trust Him to somehow provide $150,000 for me when I reach 67 years of age.
In some ways, if we don’t save regularly right now in light of our future, and wait until we’re retirement age to “trust God” to get us through, aren’t we actually asking God to “bail us out of a major mistake we made, or overcome a lack of personal discipline we had” when we get there? He just might say to us, “Dave, you could have been more frugal and disciplined with what I gave you along the way, so now you’ll have to live on the Social Security I provide.” Or we join millions of other Americans in the same age boat and get a job flipping hamburgs at MacDonalds in our 70’s.
More on this topic coming. We ain’t done yet!