Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ
by John Piper
Reader Appeal: older adults
Over ten thousand baby boomers turn sixty every day. Simply put, they’re an enormous generation, and a spectacular number of them are hitting or going to be hitting retirement in the next few years. Many people are worried how social security and health care will handle the burden, since the boomers have arrived at their twilight years with amazing robustness and the promise of an unprecedented span on years still ahead of them. In the old days you weren’t expected to live very long, or at least not very robustly, once you hit retirement age. But now that the boomers have all these years ahead of them, what are they going to do with themselves?
That’s the question John Piper sets about addressing in this little book (really more of a pamphlet). His message is simple: run until the end of the race. Retirement, he says, isn’t a blessing; it’s an addiction, a disease. Retirement is like putting a horse down before it’s reached the end of its race. It’s a waste.
Not that he’s advocating putting off retirement from your formal employment, necessarily. His message is more about what you choose to do with yourself with the time that you have. His goal is to prevent you from buying into the false dream of retirement by spending all that time and energy just pursuing leisure and an earthly reward for all your life’s labors. And even though he doesn’t spend long on it, he makes a fairly good case.
As a stimulating little tract, it’s not a bad book. Some of the examples, though inspiring, aren’t entirely helpful in a practical sense, though. Polycarp and Raymond Lull were both over 80 when they went to die as martyrs, but not all of us are able to identify with people like that, and I’m not sure the answer for how to spend our retirement well is to go out looking for ways to get killed.
The point about these people isn’t how they died, though, it’s how they lived: pursuing their passions and their purpose right up to the end. It’s an inspiring message, and it’s a good reminder to help keep our heads in the right place. And that’s always a good thing to have.
PopFam RATING: B
AFTER THE BOOK
If your family members are interested in this book, then encourage discussion about it afterward. You can use these questions to get started:
• What are your own dreams for retirement?
• Why do you think retirement is so important to many people?
• What do you think you might be called to achieve during your retirement years?
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