Don’t let the Victor Meldrew’s get you. Here’s how.

Of course it could never happen to you, could it? The drift towards grumpiness that can characterise some in their after-work years.

But are you sure? After all, without the focus of employment to occupy us, there’s more time to bemoan the state of the world, our church, our relationships and such?

Is it possible that when we retire we may drift into thinking we deserve a bit of personal pampering? That it’s our right for things to be done our way? This is fuelled by the danger of attitudes hardening as we get older. Leading to us becoming more fixed and less open; more opinionated and less tolerant.

As a result, without realising, we are in danger of drifting towards negativity and a touch of the grumps. We may not go round screaming ‘I can’t believe it!!!’ at regular intervals, but we can too easily head in the direction of being a mini Victor Meldrew.

Yet the Bible says ‘Do everything without complaining’. (Philippians 2:14). And that instruction might be very apposite for those in their years of retirement.

So how can we guard our lives? Here’s some thoughts that may be in the best interest of those around you.

Why we might get it wrong

It is easy to forget that we are now living in the new world of retirement. Things are different. The daily routines have shifted. The security of working life has vanished.

As a result, it’s easy to turn in on ourselves in search of alternative securities. That can mean putting the focus on how we expect things to be done and how they should be.

With this in mind I found some inspiration from Thomas Rainer, founder and CEO of a US internet community. He lists the kind of things he tries to avoid as he becomes more senior as –

  • Having an entitled attitude because of my giving to the church
  • Saying I’ve done my time
  • Focusing more on recreation than on serving
  • Complaining
  • Being more concerned about my preferences than the needs of others

What is at the heart of our life?

Our life has been focussed on clearly defined objectivities. These lead us into all kinds of actions which fill up most of our waking hours. Retirement gives us the chance to re-calibrate our lives and to follow a fresh set of values. Paul defines his values in Romans 12:9 to 21).

They are simple – they don’t need explanation. They demand action

  • Love must be sincere
  • Hate what is evil, cling to what is good
  • Be devoted to one another in love
  • Honour one another above yourselves
  • Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord
  • Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
  • Share with the Lord’s people who are in need
  • Practice hospitality
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn
  • Live in harmony with one another

AND SO ON …….  There is more. It’s a long list. And if we could do half of it, it could transform our lives.

How easy it is to drift into introspection and change resistance. The essence of Paul’s list is looking to the needs of others as being more important than our own needs. Do that and there will be no room for complaining and the grumps.

Paul has defined how to live as a Christian. These things are easy to lose sight of in the after-work era of our lives.

So let us be people of God committed to his purposes and use both time and experience to grow the Kingdom and not a grumpy attitude. We have so much to give and fresh horizons await if only we look to THE SON.

In contrast to Mr Meldrew, you’d better believe it.

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Dave Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.



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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife