Motivating people to practice intentional acts of kindness

A Random Number Changed Our Lives

When the helpful addition to our lives of Social Security pensions happened, government officials did not know the age to set for a person becoming eligible. How old should people be, they wondered?

Somehow, they settled on age 65. At that age you could retire, and the U.S. Government would supplement your income with a monthly check.

It was a world-changing decision. Suddenly there was a set age that declared your agedness, your end of youthfulness. Age 65, somewhat arbitrarily picked, marked the official beginning of being a Senior Citizen.

Before that, millions kept their hands in some kind of remunerative activity to keep food on the table, as long as they could. There was, for many, no alternative. Now there was. There was a government pension starting at age 65.

The selecting of that age has been a major life issue. For many, reaching age 65 means the end of working for a living. It is now time to kick back and let life trickle wherever it may. A deep sigh of relief symbolizes what age 65 means to many — ‘now I sit back and enjoy, watch, receive.’

There is a lot of wonderful payoff in the Social Security system. There are also some arguable negative features. But the most important feature God’s people have to win control over is the tendency to have age 65 be a quitting point.

There is no stopping date, or retirement time, in our call to be actively improving our world and responding helpfully to those in need. Age 65 means nothing as far as Christian living is concerned. If anything, it should mean gearing up to be more personally active in loving-kindness, and other helpful spiritual activities. 

I remember a conversation with a man who had been nominated to be an Elder of the church. He had served before, but now he was resisting on the basis of his age. He argued that he was retired and he had made his contribution in his younger years. Since he was receiving a monthly government retirement check, he believed his work as a church leader was also over.

It has not been declared, but it should be, that there is no such thing as retirement in our world of Christian service. The ex-Elder was a perfect example of one who was probably outstanding in what he had to offer, but was leaning on retirement age nonsense as if that should be considered.

Recently, I visited a 97-year-old woman in the Artesia Christian Home. In parting, she said to me, “You are really a nice man.” I was stunned by her affirmation, because, though she did not remember my name, she nevertheless blessed me. She made me a healthier and happier person — on the spot. Thank God she never considered retiring from loving-kindness.


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