I am not so sure that I will ever have the opportunity to retire. And I am not so sure that retirement would be a good thing for me! I get bored pretty quickly. But in the case that I do get to retire someday, I hope that I still like people when that event occurs. I know that sounds like an odd thing to say, but it is very important to me.
Those of us who chose to be in people helping professions did so because we wanted to make a difference. People go into nursing, because they want to be heal and serve. Police officers are drawn to the excitement of the profession, but deep down they genuinely want to protect and sere. Ministers of course are drawn to their calling on the basis of serving people.
As the years tick by during the course of those careers, nurses discover that they are faced with mounds of paperwork, hateful family members, and arrogant doctors. Teachers are expected to jump through state mandated educational hoops that are impossible for Superman to negotiate. Police officers are worn down by a flawed judicial system and endless victims. Ministers get caught in the crossfire of church conflicts. Their careers and families are affected at a level that other church members will never experience or even comprehend.
These individuals who began their careers with such noble intentions frequently retire with feelings of burnout, discouragement, and disillusionment. In some cases, they are no longer interested in helping people. It is time for golf and fishing, and that is it…
I do not want to be like that. When (if) I ever retire, I want to have a nice reception with the people I served. And I want to figure out ways to compliment my golf and fishing with niches of service. It is my desire to still like people.
I often tell my colleagues about Pete. Pete and his wife Sharon directed a large and very busy homeless shelter for decades. They served all kinds of people with all kinds of needs year after year! They dealt with con artists, addicts, families in desperate need, and people just down on their luck. Every time I had an opportunity to interact with them it occurred to me that they still liked people!
They had been burned countless times by people trying to take advantage of their kind nature. They struggled to keep that nonprofit organization in the black financially. It was very difficult job. But I never sensed that either of them became hardened or cynical. It can be done. And I want to be one of those who accomplishes such a feat! How about you? Do you still like people?