In 1975, I graduated from college and was immediately hired to teach in the public school system. While I never doubted my life’s calling as a teacher, God steered me from majoring in elementary education to that of a secondary educator. Because I was surprised by this unexpected turn in my path, I’ve never doubted it was God’s plan for me all along.
During my 30-year teaching career, God repeatedly reminded me through the relationships I had with my students, both during and after their high school years, that His purpose had prevailed. Even after my retirement from education, God has used me to encourage, and to minister to, my former students.
While I had post-retirement plans, God had a greater one. However, it took nine months of hitting me over the head with a holy 2×4 before I “got it,” and allowed God to redirect me once again.
“Getting it” means listening for that still, small voice to guide us on the path He has chosen. Too many times we ignore Him, seeking our own selfish way, thinking it will be littered with riches and accolades. We might try to escape the pull of the Holy Spirit trying to guide us, but in the end it won’t bring us joy if we’re stuck somewhere we’re not meant to be.
In an article by Mike Ward, Cornerstone University director of enrollment operations, he writes, “If you don’t know God’s purpose for your life, you constantly feel a sense of aimlessness. You feel as though you’re wandering from thing to thing without any forward progress. Nothing excites you and you don’t have any specific goals you’re working toward.”
Ward offers six ways to find your sense of purpose. First, go to God in prayer. Ask God for wisdom and direction. (James 1:5)
Second, dig into God’s Word because it’s the primary way He speaks to us. While you won’t find specific verses telling you what vocation to seek, “you will begin to understand the heart of God.” (Psalm 119:105)
Next, determine your gifts and strengths. God has given each of us specific ones. “God’s purpose for you,” he says, “probably involves the things you’re already good at.”
Ward says we also need to determine our passions. He adds, “If money wasn’t an issue, what would you love to do?”
God will also help you find your purpose through trusted guidance from others. In my case, it was my college advisor who God used to steer me into secondary education. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
A solitude retreat can also be helpful to get away from it all to think, pray and journal. Even one day from the hub-bub of life can help. Allow yourself to simply be still. Ask God for direction.
In the end, we must trust God. He will lead us where He wants us to go, even in our post-retirement years.
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Photo credit: KathmanduInternationalFellowship.org