Retirement – Take Up Your Cross Until You Are 65?

Sep 2, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

“I haven’t heard of the concept of retirement in the bible”  This was a quote from Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, in an interview with Bob Buford, author of Finishing Well.

I found this compelling.  Here is a man who was successful in the traditional business sense as an entrepreneur.  He sold everything he had, gave it all to the poor, and went off and founded Habitat for Humanity.

Another quote when initially asked if he had heard of the term “retirement” was,

“Sure I have,”  he said with a laugh.  “I remember the words of Jesus, who said, ‘Take up your cross until you’re sixty-five, then lay it down, then take up your fishing pole and move to Florida!'”

I find this so unique because I talk to people all of the time trying to figure out what God is calling them to do.  Many of us who wonder, and I am surely one, are in their 40’s and 50’s.  And then I have to laugh, because once we figure it out, it will be time for us to retire!

Start Now

I guess it doesn’t have to be.

If we embrace Millard Fuller’s philosophy that there is no such thing as retirement in God’s Kingdom it really takes the pressure off.  We can look around each and every day and do what needs to be done.  It is not at all difficult in our world to wake up each day and see Kingdom work.

I am all for a calling.  I am all for trying to make an impact for God’s Kingdom in a big way.

What I think is a trap that we get sucked into is feeling like we are not doing His work unless it is big, meaningful, and brings tears to people’s eyes when they read about it.

Millard Fuller did go on to say that although he wasn’t interested in retirement He did acknowledge that his contribution may change in his 70’s or 80’s.  Fuller died last year at age 74.  He actually ran Habitat for Humanity until 2005; so he was 70 years old.  At that time, he didn’t retire.  As he indicated his contribution changed.  He founded the Fuller Center for Housing.

Eternity is Forever So Isn’t Kingdom Work too?

I think what I appreciate so much is his mindset.  Eternity is forever.  Eternity began when we accepted Jesus as our Savior.  Our contribution will continue on from this world to Heaven.

Our challenge is to make a contribution for Jesus.  Retirement isn’t a ticking biological clock in His Kingdom.  Whether we are 20, 50, or 80 there is an opportunity to make a difference for Jesus today.

Have you ever felt that your time to make a difference was limited?  I have even though some of it may have been subconscious.  The weird thing is having a time limitation actual paralyzes us and we don’t begin.  I want to challenge us all, even if you aren’t sure of an eternal calling, to start today by looking around and seeing what you can do to help God’s Kingdom!

Reader Interactions


  1. Brad Harmon says

    There’s always been a part of retirement planning that’s bothered me. It feels eerily like the man building the bigger barn in the parable Christ told. Then, as you point out here, the concept of retirement isn’t in the Bible. Heaven isn’t a retirement community – we’ll be reassigned to do more when we get there. If you’re still here on earth and breathing, then God has a plan for you yet to accomplish.

    • S_Miley says

      Yep Brad,I know He has plans. I think sometimes I need to just go with the flow and see how he uses me rather than working so hard to figure out what he wants me to do. Listen more. Be obedient!

  2. Bradley J. Moore says

    Sue – I think you hit on something with this thing about “calling” – and people getting so desperate to find out what their big deal, high-impact purpose is suppsed to be, that they don’t get on with what’s right in front of them! I actually question the idea of calling, and instead adhere to a philosophy that says you shoud do the most with your interests, passions, gifts and talents in a way that aligns the best of who you are with the needs around you or the job that needs to be done – this is how God’s kingdom is advanced. And yes, many times it is just doing the little things every day and being faithful and consistent in character.

    And we can start that right now.

    And about retirement – I have a day coming when I will leave my job, but by no means will I be done working! I’ve got a full slate ahead of me, God willing.

    THis is a great post, Sue!

    • S_Miley says

      I love how you said you believe in “a philosophy that says you shoud do the most with your interests, passions, gifts and talents in a way that aligns the best of who you are with the needs around you or the job that needs to be done – this is how God’s kingdom is advanced.” Well put and I totally agree!

      Thanks for your comments and sharing with others!

  3. Brock S. Henning says

    Nice post! I came across it via a Tweet from Bradley Moore (thanks Brad!). I stand in the place of “trying to figure it out” all the time. Matter of fact, I was just there again yesterday. I went on a half-day fishing excursion here in Colorado…just me and God. I’d hoped He would answer a few BIG questions I’ve been struggling with, some in particular relating to my career and other dreams He’s laid on my heart.

    You ended smack in the same place that God spoke to me during that fishing trip. He said “Quit placing all of these expectations on yourself and on this time. I love you. I’ll take care of the answers. Let’s enjoy this day together.”

    And I apologize in advance–I’m not trying to steer traffic to my blog–but in all sincerity, I blogged about that just yesterday and before reading this. Weird. 🙂

    • S_Miley says

      I am at this place it seems like every couple of years. I heard a speaker at a Christian counseling conference say “if you aren’t sure what you are being called to do, look around and see what needs to be done. Do that!”. So in the in between times when I question my calling I remember this statement and try to “bloom where I am planted.”

      I look forward to checking out your blog and blog post Brock. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Greg Waddell says


    I agree totally with your post. I think, however, that I am detecting in our culture–even in our Christian churches–a growing attitude on the part of young people that wants to discount, or even ridicule, the potential contribution of older Christians. I find this trend very troubling, but have no idea how to combat it other than try to teach what the word says, that we are to respect one another, value one another, and build one another up.

    • S_Miley says

      That is a shame. I have a dear Christian friend in hospice now and she is still touching people at this moment. His love and grace comes through, even in suffering. I pray He will continue to use me until I join Him in Heaven. I wish the younger generations were more exposed to multiple generations of family members, mentors, etc. We lose so much when we lose this history. Plus, I am 46 and just starting to figure things out. The younger generation may miss the best contribution if they give up on us too soon.

      Thanks for sharing Greg.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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