In the Beginning: Work and Retirement (Part 2)

Brent Pittman —  09/12/2012
America gothic

Credit Will Merydith.

In Work and Retirement Part 1 we began a conversation about work and retirement inspired from a conversation from my fellow writer John at Married with Debt.

Why are we even examining the topic of work? Simple: The way we view work, informs our opinions about retirement. In order to truly explore the topic of retirement, we have to first understand our bias and beliefs surrounding work.

The Goal of Work is…

My friend John has 10 Rules to Eliminate Debt and they are very helpful, heck I even subscribe and teach several of these rules to my clients.

I cannot agree with his final rule which states, “The goal of work is retirement.” In the context of his rules John pushes people to think about why they are working and fight against consumerism. I can applaud the sentiment, but can’t support the statement.

I believe work is much much more.

In the Beginning was Work

This is where my view of work diverges and takes on a much deeper meaning. In the beginning when God and Adam were hanging out in the garden (pre Eve) work existed. Yes, in this perfect world Adam had a task–a job–work to do.

He was not idly kicking back eating grapes and petting unicorns. There was work to be done. Adam’s main task was to cultivate and maintain the garden (Gen 2:15). Yes, even in paradise before the snake slithered and fruit had bite marks, work existed.

Man also had a special assignment. His special task was to give names to the animals. Adam used his time to create order, joining God in the creative process.

True, work became more difficult once Adam and Eve disturbed the created order; yet in the beginning was work and work was good.

My View of Work

In light of the above example, work is much more than punching a time clock, longing towards a retirement party and period of time where work doesn’t exist.

Work is…

1. Natural– Work is part of the created order of life and thus work is good and not a curse.

2. To be Embraced. Work is not something to be avoided, but rather embraced. As we work–we are at the core embracing our humanity.

3. Holy- God himself created and performed work. As we work, we are reflecting the image of God in us.

We are most alive when we embrace the God given tasks before us and join God in creating order and beauty.

The Goal of Work is:

  • To perform the tasks God has given us. There is work before us to be done on a daily basis. I doubt you’re a farmer, but there are still preverbal gardens to maintain and cultivate.
  • To join God in the creative process of creating order and beauty.

I believe it is time to have a proper view of work. In the beginning was work and work was good. In A Radical View of Retirement: Work and Retirement (Part 3) we will discover how a proper view of work informs our view of retirement.

What is your view of work? 

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
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  • John, hey this is a fun discussion eh?

    I applaud your work in fighting consumerism and helping others out of debt.

    John, I also agree work is noble, but as I laid out above–it takes on deeper purpose beyond just providing for our immediate family unit.
    There are subtile differences between work and career, but they share the same underlying beliefs. I didn’t even touch on the concepts of vocation and calling; that would be fun to introduce into this discussion, but maybe another day.
    Even if you rephrase your statement to “The Goal of a Career is Retirement”–I’m going to also disagree. We might just shake hands and call it a gentlemans disagreement.

  • I think you can still do a lot of work in retirement. Just because you aren’t working a career doesn’t mean you aren’t working as a volunteer or working to help better other’s lives.

    • Lance,
      The destination I’m driving to…more in Part 3 is about this American view of Retirement–which at its heart is selfish and has an underlying skewed view of work.

  • AverageJoe

    I’m in total agreement. I’m a customer service guy. Bring me more customers! I can’t imagine ever ending that activity. Ever hear about that guy who works til 65 and then retires and is dead at 66? I have no proof but I have to believe he ran out of work.

    • my great-grandmother was hemming pants for pay in her 90’s. It’s in my blood too.

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