I just finished the two-day retirement planning seminar sponsored by my work, taught by two of the industry’s best financial planners. It was very helpful and provided an in-depth review of various issues to help us make wise choices as we approach retirement. You may be wondering as to how the retirement planning seminar has any relevance to my Patheos blog. We focus so much on financial growth and financial planning for our retirement but how much do we think about our spiritual growth and spiritual planning for the post retirement life?
The financial planners were hitting on some key decisions we needed to make for the best choices for 401k retirement plans, when we approached the Friday prayers time in the early afternoon session.
I was fully engaged and was listening to them intently, asking several questions along the way. That’s when I found myself asking the question: should I stay, or leave for the obligatory Friday prayer? I almost never miss the Friday prayers but this was a critical phase of the planning session. After all, I have worked hard all my life and now was the time to make sure that I have the tools to make wise choices for the next phase of life.
After a short conversation with myself, I decided to leave the retirement planning seminar for the Friday prayer.
I was reminded of this verse from a chapter in Qur’an that is named Surah Al Jum’ua (Friday).
O you who believe! when the call is made for prayer on Friday, then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and leave off trading; that is better for you, if you know. And when the prayer is finished, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah’s bounty, and remember Allah much, that you may prosper (be successful). 62:9-10
It found it ironic that I was hesitating to go for the Friday prayers because I was busy planning for my retirement. I was so keenly engaged in that process to secure my financial future in the next phase of my life that I neglected about planning for the post retirement life. This statement should have a big “if” as it makes the big assumption that I will live long enough for the retirement.But this is the story of our lives in general. How often do we work very hard in the hopes of making the next phase of our lives more successful? We work hard in high school so we could go to a good college. We work hard in college to make sure we will be able to attend a good graduate school or land a good job. The same goes with raising our children, making sure we gave them good education in elementary school to build solid foundation. Then guiding them through high school to make sure they have the proper education to prosper in the next phase of their education in college and beyond.
I understand the concept of after life varies greatly from religion to religion. Some don’t believe in any after life. The doctrine of an afterlife is by far the strongest in Islam. As a Muslim, I believe in an after life and that our actions in this life will help determine how we do in the life after. It is also very true that in the end, it is God’s immense mercy that we hope will supersede our actions (or inactions).
I am certainly not advocating for the sole focus on the afterlife and forgetting this life. Nor am I advocating for doing the good only for the selfish purpose of securing a good afterlife. And I am certainly not into having a fatalistic mindset as we go through our daily grind. But it would be nice to strike a balance.
We put a lot of emphasis in the next chapters of our lives but how hard do we work to succeed in the final chapter of our lives? Preaching is not what I do, even though it certainly may seem like preaching here and I apologize in advance if you felt that way. But today I just could not help but draw the parallel between planning for a good retirement, and our efforts to plan for the life beyond. How hard are we working to ensure we have done our job? How important is it on our priority list? Do we need to wait until our retirement age to ponder on our post retirement life?