We ask members of the Benefits Plan to be diligent in caring for themselves and to take advantage of the many plans, programs and other resources that the board offers. The Medical Plan, Pension Plan, Death and Disability Plan, health management programs, and Optional Dental Program, as well as educational offerings such as our financial and retirement planning seminars, are just some of the benefits.
Being a responsible steward of your life includes not just attending to your overall well-being today, but preparing for tomorrow as well. And there is no “tomorrow” more important or significant than retirement. With people living longer these days, many of us can look forward to enjoying 25 or more years in retirement. This means that our planning starts well in advance of our retirement age. Examining and preparing for how you will care for your finances, health, vocational decisions and spiritual needs means taking a holistic approach, as these components are intricately intertwined.
Finances — already on your radar
No doubt your finances have been at the forefront of your retirement planning for years. It’s the first thing that pops into our minds when we think of retirement — how am I going to pay for everything? It’s a key factor in deciding where you are going to live and what Medicare supplement plans are within your budget. While most members of the Traditional Program participate in the Pension Plan and will look to their Social Security benefits for support, all of us need to consider additional means for financial support, including investment vehicles like the 403(b)(9) Retirement Savings Plan, which is available to most plan members.
Health — a game plan for the unpredictable
We cannot predict what will happen with our health tomorrow, let alone in the years to come. As we get older, our health can be a very complex and concerning topic. Certainly taking care of ourselves in active service can help assure better health after we retire. (Don’t forget about those annual well visits and screenings!)
However, we can experience a variety of health issues as we age that cannot be anticipated or prevented. What we can do is continue our self-care throughout the rest of our lives, plan for the financial implications of health conditions and retain a current durable power of attorney and living will. And make sure you discuss the health-care decisions you are determining in advance with the significant people in your life.
Vocation — commencement of the next phase
So much of our lives is dedicated to our work, and the extensive hours ministers and church workers commit to their mission of serving the church are no exception. It is no wonder that oftentimes people enter their retirement without giving consideration to exactly how to spend the time they’ll have on their hands. Assessing your skills and interests, as well as deciding how to balance your time between well-earned rest and recreation, friends and family, volunteering and even part-time work, is something you should do before retirement so you’re sure to keep active and entertained once you begin this new phase of your life.
Spirit — finding your new call
All Christians are called to some form of ministry throughout their lifetime. For ministers and many church workers, the call during our “working” years is usually easy to discern. But what happens when we end our formal careers and seek a new path for our spiritual energy? It is actually a wonderful opportunity to open new doors and explore new possibilities for spiritual fulfillment. God will always be the guiding force in our lives — to serve him and support ourselves spiritually in retirement is (another) opportunity of a lifetime.
Looking forward to your tomorrow
I ask that you take some time to think about what you want out of your retirement so you can continue to serve God and fulfill your dreams during this wonderful chapter of your life. Examining and planning for financial, health, vocational and spiritual needs for retirement is a long-term process that should begin years in advance.
One thing that members of the Benefits Plan and their spouses can do is attend the board’s free seminar “Growing into Tomorrow … Today.” This two-day seminar provides guidelines for the many considerations you must factor into your retirement planning. As one attendee stated, “I really appreciated the non-financial sessions … They provided a holistic context and raised many issues I will need to deal with as I approach retirement.”
For more information about this and all of the seminars and resources we offer members, please visit the “Seminars & E-learning” section of Pensions.org.
STEVEN R. FLEMING is education specialist with The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).