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Don’t call me ‘aged!’ I’m not a piece of mature cheese!

Senior citizens
A pair of elderly couples view the ocean and waves along the beach in La Jolla, California, March 8, 2012. |

We've all heard them before — 'Older than dirt,' 'Over the hill,' 'Old timer,' even 'Ancient fossil.' All names to describe being, well, old!

But these names are usually used in jest. It's the "official" name tags I object to. "Senior citizen," "geriatric," and then there's "aged.”

Aged! Do I look like a piece of mature Cheddar cheese? Seriously!

Believe it or not, Sept. 19 in Japan is 'Respect for the Aged Day.' I mean no disrespect to the Japanese, but we really need to get over this 'aged' thing! I like to think of myself — and I'm sure you like to think of yourself, too — as actively aging.

That's right. We're getting older, and that's inescapable. But we are not done yet! We have a whole bunch of active living to do. And your active and fulfilling life journey can continue well into your 80s, 90s, and even beyond.

I’m 81 years old and, as the leader of the Retirement Reformation movement, I’m on a mission to show that people over the age of 50 have a wealth of talent, experiences and earned wisdom to share with others and serve them.

‘Active Agers’

I agree totally with showing respect for those advancing in years. But I also believe that we — as active agers — need to earn the admiration and respect of others, including the younger generations, by leading with our actions and showing them the way to live a life of purpose.

When we sit on the proverbial porch, swinging the day away, or revolve our lives around endless rounds of golf, what does that communicate to the younger generations?

It says this: I’ve checked out of life. I’m not really interested in hearing about your challenges or your struggles. I just want to be left alone to enjoy myself. Don’t count on me to do anything of consequence. I am aged after all.

Is that how you want to be perceived? Is that your goal in retirement?

Paradise lost?

I know that after a lifetime of work, the thought of “doing nothing” can seem like paradise. But it actually leads to boredom, lack of purpose, and depression in many instances. I believe many people — including a lot of Christians — have it all wrong, and they’re missing rewarding opportunities to serve God and others in their later years, when they could be the most effective they’ve ever been.

Our research shows more than six out of every 10 Americans expect their retirement to last at least 15 years, but about the same number don’t have any specific plans beyond golf, gardening, and grandkids.

I love my grandkids. But there’s a God-directed plan for my life that I intend to pursue until the day He calls me home. Without God’s purpose in my life, I’d be just a shadow of what He wants me to be in my all-important “final quarter.”

Don’t settle for ‘aged’

I’d like to invite you to join thousands of active agers — and reset your retirement today. Yours can be a retirement with real purpose and meaning. A time of life that can be your richest and most satisfying yet. It’s estimated 50 million Americans are approaching or are already in retirement. That’s a huge potential mission force for good at a time when our nation desperately needs us.

Don’t settle for “aged.” Refuse to be labelled as such. There are no age limits on serving God and others. No age restrictions on the impact you can have.

You have so much still to offer, so much still to contribute, so much life to live! Why not take the first step right now and discover the God-directed purpose you were made for. For the sake of God’s kingdom and your family, it’s never too late to try.

Bruce Bruinsma is the founder and leader of Retirement Reformation — a movement that seeks to encourage and empower the 50 million Americans approaching or in retirement to embrace the calling God has been preparing them for. Kickstart your Retirement Reformation with a free 52-week Prayer Calendar

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