After leaving the Foundation in 2014, I became Executive Director of Fuller Seminary’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership. In that role I was carrying one of the messages Howard Butt Jr. had faithfully taught, helping leaders in the marketplace discover “the high calling of their daily work.”
And I heard an unexpected refrain from the people we served. One man in the Bay Area put it this way: “I know I going to need to retire in a few years. I’ve been mentoring younger folks in the company, and I’ll need to get out of their way. But I’m not done making a difference with my life. I don’t know how to think about retirement. And my church is no help at all. You folks should do something about this!”
I heard this sort of thing dozens of times. Finally, in 2019, we launched our Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Stepping into this work, I was consistently reminded of the folks at Laity Lodge, people like Betty Anne Cody, who had the vision and courage to flourish in their third third.
Ironically, my work today is still very much in the mode of Howard Butt Jr., helping people live into “the high calling of their daily work.” For some, paid work is only one part of the work God has given us to do. My grandfather understood this. After he retired, he did lots of pro bono engineering work, saying to me, “I’m working just as hard as ever. I’m just not being paid.” With his necessities covered because of careful retirement planning and a healthy economy, he was happy to be paid in gratitude, fulfillment, and meaning.
More and more people are working for pay far beyond age 65, yet everyone can live fully, fruitfully, and faithfully. Those adverbs—fully, fruitfully, and faithfully—are inspired by several sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of John.