Your life-skills and experience. Here’s how not to waste them in your active retirement.

Do you remember the story Jesus told – about a servant who buried what had been trusted to him? And how his master reacted? How might that play out, I wonder, if applied to our time in active retirement?

Just think, for a moment, of the ‘talents’ you’ve accumulated during your many working years. Most likely they represent a treasure trove of valuable skills, knowledge and experience.

It was what kept you afloat back then. But what about ‘now’? Because the call to be faithful stewards of the talents we have doesn’t end with our last pay cheque.

Of course, not everything gained in your years of work may be directly relevant to serving God now. You might even be crying out for a change from what used to fill your days.

But that still leaves the challenge of ‘stewardship’ and what you have the opportunity to do with who what’s ‘in your hands’.

Brush yourself down and talk yourself up

It’s possible you are not even aware of the workplace skills and life experience that could so enrich your church.

So, with that story from Jesus in your mind, think of what you have brought from your working life into your retirement. Might it match any of these examples –

Customer service skills     Personnel management     Maintenance/building knowledge
Marketing     Team building and coaching     Research     Negotiation     Strategic planning
Commercial writing     IT and social media     Change management     Budgeting     Making things happen     Communication and presentations     Managing people     Conflict resolution Mentoring     Fundraising     Etc, etc, etc

But now what? You’ve identified your ‘talent’, but getting it used in the context of your church may not be that easy.

Help church leaders understand

Sometimes it can be hard work to help church leaders understand the way ‘non-spiritual’ gifts can be used to build up a church. Sometimes they may even feel threatened by the workplace skills and experience others have accumulated.

On the positive side, those who lead churches do tend to understand their church needs to use the spiritual gifts of all their members. But when it comes to engaging the practical skills, insights and expertise of those actively retired it can be a different story.

They are likely to see what ex-accountants can do as having a role. And then consider everyone else suitable for committees or rotas. Because of this you may well need to take action by –

  • Sharing with them the content on our web page What Church Leaders Should Know
  • Pointing out, in a one-to-one, the skills and knowledge you have, together with an example of where it could be used.
  • Being proactive and offering to contribute to an area of church life that would be enriched by using your workplace skills and experience.
  • Setting the pace by encouraging them to initiate a ‘Skills Directory’ or something similar. This involves those with time available – so not restricted to retired people – to identify the skills they could offer.

Walk humbly

Just a word of caution. Using what you have gathered in your past life in the context of your church can lead to ‘I know and you don’t’.

That may well be true – especially if you’ve had sound experience in commerce and your church leader did not much before ‘vicar school’. But the attitude behind it, and the way it is communicated, can do damage unless humility and a servant attitude are at its heart.

So keep the words of St Paul to the church in Ephesus in mind- ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love’.

Remember too, that being a church leader is rather like herding cats. And may be being done by those lacking the same experience from the wider world as you. So cut them some slack.

At the same time, it is our talents that God has placed in our hands and our responsibility and opportunity to use them.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Do you have an experience of using your workplace skills to serve your church? Please share them here or with our Facebook group.


  1. All well and good if your recently retired. But in your mid- 80’s!? At a retired clergy meeting this time last year a retired lady Archdeacon whose parochial experience was limited began a meeting of retired guys, many of whom had put in 30-40 years at the chalk face by suggesting that we close the door on the past, what we did or found helpful. Rather we are looking at the present state of things pastoral etc and the future! Strange, isn’t it, that throughout the O.T. God’s people are encouraged to remember lessons from the past learned the hard way; and not to make the same mistakes but to recall where and what the Lord blessed and multiplied in our own lives and that of our church fellowship. As a fine Christian hospital consultant once reminded our church council we are not looking for good ideas: that can make us proud. Rather, we are seeking God’s directions and leading in order to make us dependent on Him – and keep us humble.

  2. I have just domestic skill’s cooking skills and looking after my animals I don’t have any other skills so.I don’t know if they would be anygood

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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