Steps toward a purposeful retirement

Jan 4, 2021

Beth Shook

By Naomi Goldstick
Photos by Daniel Yu

For 30 years, Beth Shook was as an art professor. When faced with early retirement due to a health crisis, her self-identity was challenged. As she embarked on the next chapter of her life, she had to reexamine who she really was and discover the direction her next steps would take.

Shook realized she had been a child of God much longer than she had been an art professor, and her identity as such superseded any other labels or occupations in her life and would continue on into retirement. She allowed this realization to shape her desires and intentions for the coming years.

Even before her retirement, Shook had become involved in Pursue Life Adult Ministry, a part of Arizona Baptist Children’s Services & Family Ministries that assists adults in finding purpose in their later years. Pursue Life Adult Ministry provides information, resources, ministry opportunities and helps meet physical needs of low-income older adults.

Now, with newfound freedom, Shook was able to pursue things that had long been on the back burner. She and her husband were able to take ministry trips, and she developed a workshop for Pursue Life Adult Ministry called My Story, My Legacy.

Through this workshop, attendees are encouraged to pull at the thread of their relationship with the Lord that runs throughout their lives and write their stories. These legacy stories can be used not just in their families, but as a ministry tool for those around them, or lost people in the world.

“There was a time in my life when I hid who I was to protect other people, and my testimony was pretty mute,” Shook says. “In academia and the art world, I didn’t have a safe space. But there came a point when I realized this is not who I am. I refuse to let other people and other things speak for me. I cannot continue to let that happen.”

When she retired, Shook suddenly felt free to speak her mind.

“Not only am I going to speak loudly, I’m going to speak using my mouth,” she says.

She was able to find her voice as an artist and writer and be bold in her faith and expression of God’s work in her life. In her identity as a child of God, she found the courage to use her skills for the promotion of the gospel.

Shook explains that one’s experiences prepare them for that next step. The skills developed during your working years can fuel the next stage of life and provide a rich resource for the Lord to use in the coming years, she says.

“The world says we are to resist growing old at all costs,” says Mona McDonald, Pursue Life Adult Ministry vice president.

“We spend a lot of money, do whatever it takes, to not grow older,” she says. “The reality is that every day we grow a little older. But Jesus says that growing older is glorious. Psalm 92:14 says, ‘They will still bear fruit in old age, they will remain fresh and green.’ Most of the time we don’t feel very fresh and green, but He wants us to live our life that way.”

McDonald encourages older adults who are facing the next steps in their life journey to explore what they are passionate about, what excites them and then pray and ask God to lead them to opportunities and to ask Him for courage to pursue them.

Naomi Goldstick, a freelance writer living in Chandler, is a member of Foothills Church, Phoenix.

Daniel Yu, a member of Tucson Chinese Baptist Church, is owner of Daniel Yu Imaging. 

Next Steps:

–Pray for Pursue Life Adult Ministry to be an encouragement to adults. Pray that adults age 50+ will discover and embrace God’s purpose in their current season of life.

–Volunteer in special projects or events for older adults. Host an event or workshop at your church for the aging community. Serve older adults at an ABCS Community Resource Center near you. Research or share trusted resources to help other aging adults. Contact Mona McDonald at mona@abcs.org for more information.

–Encourage your church to avoid the mistake of allowing older adults to “retire to the back pew.” They are a rich resource for your church, and utilizing their skill sets will give them greater significance in their lives.

–Learn more about Pursue Life Adult Ministry at pursuelifeaz.com

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