Is Saving For Retirement Biblical?
Why Saving for Tomorrow Isn’t About a Lack of Faith Today
by Greg Love
Working alongside pastors and ministry partners over the years, I’ve noticed that the concept of retirement—especially in the most formal sense of the word —can at times carry a negative connotation.
And I understand why.
For most, ministry is a lifelong calling from the Lord, which often means that retirement doesn’t have a seat at the table when we think about our finances or future.
But are we right to view retirement this way?
Is the concept of retirement biblical?
Does saving for tomorrow show a lack of faith today?
From my days in seminary, retirement planning was not part of the degree plan — although, looking back, it certainly would have been helpful. Nevertheless, as I scan the Bible, I find only one direct reference regarding retirement as we understand it today:
“This is what applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall enter to perform service in the work of the tent of meeting. But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more”(Num. 8:24–25, NASB).
Outside of this one reference, there is no formal directive for the Christian minister to retire from his calling or service to the Lord.
And yet, no one would object to the existence and nature of the changing seasons of life.
As life spans continue to increase, we have formal retirement plans and programs such as Medicare and Social Security to care for aging populations. Our culture understands the reality that, for those in their later years, life may require a gentler pace.
Yet, what biblical wisdom can we offer each generation before they encounter their later years?
Though Scripture does not speak formally on retirement, it does give us certain principles of preparation. In the book of Proverbs, we find a helpful illustration. King Solomon gives practical wisdom regarding the ant who stores in the summer and gathers at harvest — all in the anticipation of a harsh winter when work and preparation will certainly be too late.
The ant shows us that setting aside resources for our future is wise.
We’re told to “observe her ways and be wise” — we never know what life holds around the corner, and the Lord’s wisdom instructs us to prepare during the working season for the years ahead.
Although it’s important for us to prepare for the future, we must balance our efforts to not have heaped up treasure in the last days(James 5:3, NKJV). In other words, we must be careful that our preparation is not driven by greed and self-centered motives, because God has greater purposes for these resources.
So, be wise — begin preparing now by saving for your retirement years. Let’s be faithful stewards — in both our present and future years — of what the Lord has provided.
And while formal retirement from vocational ministry may happen due to life circumstances, you’ll never retire from your life’s pursuit of the Lord.
You can take that biblical truth to the bank.
To learn more regarding the theological perspective of saving for retirement, download our free resource Antology, written by GuideStone®president, O.S. Hawkins.
GuideStone is a leading provider of employee benefits for SBC churches, ministries, organizations and institutions. Visit GuideStone.orgto learn more about how they can help you with retirement, insurance, investments and more.
Greg Love joined GuideStone in 2012 and serves as Director for Retirement Solutions, specializing in church retirement plan design and employee education. He holds degrees from both The University of West Alabama and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration from Dallas Baptist University. Greg holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠professional designation, as well as Series 6 and 63 security licenses.
Greg is passionate about helping local churches thrive, making disciples and impacting the globe for Christ. He and his wife, Jaime, have been married since 2001 and enjoy raising their two children — John Parker and Georgia Grace.