By Chris Pomfret, POAMN Treasurer 

Retirement is a big deal! It ranks up there as a stress raiser along with divorce, moving house, and loss of loved ones. But how much help or encouragement do we give to our church members who are going through the ordeal? My belief is not enough.

Here’s some ways that you can consider helping your worshippers grapple with pre- and post-retirement stress. And, at the end of this article is a practical solution which combines quality and meaningful fellowship with the challenges of retirement.

First, it’s prudent to be aware of members who are anticipating retirement. Maybe ask, say once a month, if anyone has a retirement in the near future. This sends the message that the church cares and wants to know which of its members are retiring and the circumstances, to the extent that the individual is comfortable sharing.

It also will give other retired members the opportunity to engage with the individual and possibly create a new bond. The community can ascertain if the individual is happy, or reticent, or truly distressed by the event. Some people might be forced to retire before they wanted or expected to, and this would understandably cause stress, especially if they had not anticipated this scenario.

This leads to the second issue of whether the person is mentally prepared for life after work.


There are those who really fear retirement, whereas others are eagerly awaiting the day. We all know people who say that they don’t know how they ever found time to work, while others who had been retired for six months went back to work for something to do (because “every blade of grass was pointing in the right direction in their yard and every shingle was securely nailed down on the roof”).

Whatever the person’s feelings, how can we as a church community be there for them to help them through the transition? It’s easy to pour well-intentioned advice onto the budding retiree but, generally, it is better to listen to their situation and get them to talk about how they feel about severing the tie with their work and what they anticipate doing when their lifelong routine is permanently altered.

Third, people about to retire often worry about the loss of purpose. What is there to get up for each morning now that they don’t have to go to work?

A common statement is that, once retired, it was harder to know what day of the week it was because every day seemed like a Saturday or Sunday.

This led me to visualize the retirement as seven days of specific activities. My intent is to be more focused on what I do with my days as opposed to what day of the week it is. So, the days of the week were re-named to embrace seven major headings that I feel creates a complete, balanced and fulfilling use of time in retirement.


1. Physical Fitness

For some of us, retiring might generate more natural exercise than our sedentary job.

Whatever the case, striving for those magic “10,000 steps per day” could become a realistic goal. But how?
Walking is excellent exercise and you can do it at your own pace and for as long as you like. Be intentional about taking a walk every day. Whether with a spouse, friend, or neighbor, you’ll get some quality social interaction in the process.

But walking is not the panacea to staying physically fit. Other forms of low-impact activity are necessary for strength training, balance retention, and mobility. Consider yoga or aerobics, including the water variety. The body just feels so good after the stretching and extensions that you can accomplish at a level that fits your own capabilities.

Pickleball, tennis and golf are other excellent ways to stay mobile, supple, and in the fresh air. Along with the physical benefit, we get social interaction and mental concentration to boost our mood.


2. Mental Fitness

No matter what our prior work was, staying mentally fit in retirement is not only a good goal, it’s vital for cognition and staving off dementia.

Some turn to crosswords. Other options are mind games like Wordle, Connections, and Suduko. Board games such as Sequence and Qwirkle may also interest you.

Writing a book is a good long-term project. It could be fiction, a history of your local town/city, or reflections on your life. The message is to find things that interest you and/or will fulfill you that are mentally engaging; the list is literally endless. Once again, as with physical activity, it’s important to do a variety of mental activities.


3. Service to Others

If you have had a good working life and maybe feel fortunate/blessed by what life has dealt you so far, why not help to pass it on, or pay it forward, by helping others?

Find something that motivates you, fulfills you, and that you enjoy doing. It could be reading to children who need extra help in a local school, or driving the Senior Center bus to collect people who can’t drive, or giving out refreshments to blood donors. Or there’s a wealth of things to do for one’s church that perhaps you couldn’t sign up for when you worked.

There’s literally an infinite number of volunteer opportunities. Giving to an organization generates an abundance of good feelings and wholesomeness. And feeling good about what you do creates endorphins in the brain and keeps your gray matter in good shape.


4. Time with a Spouse, Loved Ones, and Friends

If you’re married, make special time for each other one or more times a week. Do something simple, like going to a local town or village that you’ve not visited, have coffee or lunch, or go to a movie together or… the list is endless and it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. It’s the time together that counts.

If you are not married or are no longer married, do something with your children, grandchildren, or a special friend. You all get some quality time together and have an enjoyable day that creates memories and, most importantly, you won’t be guilt ridden in the future when those special people, or you, are no longer around to enjoy times together.



5. Hobbies/Interests

Many people don’t get to pursue their hobbies or interests when working full time. When retirement arrives, one can finally indulge oneself and make up for lost time. Isn’t that a good incentive to retire?

Travel is often top of peoples’ list of retirement goals. And if you don’t have any hobbies? Then dream about what you’d like to do if only you had the time. There must be something that captures your curiosity.

Learn to play a musical instrument, pursue a sport, take art classes, take up reading, study a subject at the local Lifelong Learning Center. The world is truly your oyster.


6. Home Tasks

All of us have a “honey do” list or a list of projects that we want to tackle, if only there was more time than a weekend in which to try and do it. Now one has that opportunity to take on a project that might need a week or two to complete, such as cleaning out the attic. And, in so doing, you get to reduce the amount of stuff you’ve accumulated over the years, ready for when you need to downsize.

The upside is you can do what you want to do when the moment captures you. Just make sure that you spend some time doing the long-postponed projects while you have the mental and physical desire. Accomplishing them will make you feel good and fulfilled.



7. God, Faith, and Spirituality

As well as going to church and giving thanks to God for a great life, there’s a lot we can reflect on in our lives and find our spirituality and strengthen our faith, as we will need both these things as we age.

Spend some time contemplating how the rest of your life will play out and how you can make the best of the things you can control. How can we adjust our minds to ask for help or accept help instead of being that independent person we always were when younger and working full-time.

Recognize that, while we’re alive on planet Earth, God has a purpose for us. Search your mind to figure out what it is and how you can make the most of your time in these retirement years.

Also, be mindful of the challenges that face us as we age. In our early years we had plenty of challenges to overcome, so why should it be any different in our later stages of life?

Our life is a journey and it’s good to look ahead and see what’s coming so that we can be ready to address each of them when they arrive.

Among the biggest issues are where to live as we age, how we will have the courage to stop driving when the time comes (i.e. before we have an age-related accident) and how will we let our children engage with us and gradually adopt the role of parents to us.



By this stage, retirees are typically saying “I don’t have enough time to do all this”, which is a good sign as it means that they have embraced retiring as a thing of beauty and excitement as opposed to a time of sitting in the rocking chair watching the world go by, or as something to fear.

Embracing the Seven Days of Retirement and scrambling it into a “school timetable” enables us to cover all the bases and accomplish things that are good for us, our families and the Earth as a whole. And we tend to find that many of the categories are overlapping; for instance, a hobby could also be mental or physical stimulation, volunteering could be part of your God/Faith/Spiritual activities, etc.

However we categorize the activities we pursue, the important outcome is that we finish life strong and well and be a role model to those who come behind us. So, ask yourselves, what does God want from me now that I have retired? Having reached an exciting fork in the road where working for a paycheck is no longer a necessity, what are you going to make of the rest of your life?

Churches could take the lead and provide an invaluable service by facilitating an occasional (monthly) discussion group where members share their retirement experiences with those nearing the occasion, and/or just chat with each other. How do each of us regard this chapter of our lives? Just talking about our lives may be inspiring to others.

A retired aerospace consultant, Chris Pomfret founded the Third Thirty concept in 2012 after witnessing the aging of his parents. He has been a member of POAMN since 2014 and serves as its treasurer. Contact Chris to request a free copy of his Third Thirty curriculum.​

This article originally appeared in the 2024 Older Adult Ministry Planning Guide.