The Mentorship Model for Retirement Planning

Life is a series of lessons and, as we learn most things, there are people who help us establish our goals and encourage us in attaining them.

This was true of the very first challenges we faced. We first learned to walk by seeing that other people were walking and being encouraged and cheered on by them when we tried to do it, too.

Once we grew up, and had mastered basic life skills, parents, teachers, pastors, and others in leadership continued to establish most of our goals and provide the proper training for our development in those areas.

When we became adults, many of us took on the joys and challenges (in some combination) of getting a job, getting married, having children, buying a house. Even though these areas were new an unknown to us, there were plenty of people in our lives who had been there and were available and willing to provide advice and guidance.

There are many examples of the mentorship model in the Bible, too. Moses and Joshua. Elijah and Elisha. Paul and Timothy. Even Jesus and His disciples. In fact, Jesus could have chosen any method for conveying knowledge and wisdom to people, and He chose to mentor a small group of men.

So, with the mentoring model so well-established, why is it so difficult to find mentors on the topic of retirement planning? It’s a bit inexplicable. Perhaps it’s because retirement is tied to the “personal” topic of finances. Or, perhaps, because retirement, like death, is a topic that makes us face our own mortality. Perhaps, because many of the people in our lives have not experienced retirement yet themselves (because of their age) or have failed in their own planning (and are uncomfortable admitting that).

Whatever the reason, just as with all the other phases and milestones of our lives, we need someone to mentor us in planning for our retirement. There are alternatives to mentorship, but many of them are not good.

One approach is to figure out our retirement planning on our own. This would require us to sift through mountains of investment sales materials, tax guidelines, and corporate prospectuses, and pull the trigger, hoping we’ve made good decisions. But, in reality, working and raising a family takes a lot of time and energy, and the average pastor has limited opportunity to do the necessary research.

Another alternative might be acting on the opinions of others (who are, often, as inexperienced as we are). These days, opinions are everywhere, and we don’t even have to have a real conversation to discover what people think. Exposure to a variety of advice on retirement planning is as simple as logging onto Facebook, or X, or TikTok. But we need to be careful about putting too much stock in the opinion of others (whether we know them personally or not) who have not successfully planned their own retirement, or who are not professionally trained in retirement planning from a Christian worldview.

And, finally, a default alternative is to simply doing nothing. This is one of the worst options. Why? Because, not only does it not prepare us for the future, but it reveals a bit about our heart. Our finances come from the Lord, and He expects us to make wise investments. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30) the master was angry with the third servant because he was afraid to even make an attempt to invest the money he was given.

A potential pool of retirement planning mentors may not be obvious, but they are out there. Observe who in your congregation seems to have established a successful retirement. Ask them if they would be willing to mentor you individually, or even, to be involved in forming a church group around the topic of retirement planning mentorship. A long list of people who could serve as potential mentors may not be obvious at first, but Jesus told us that as we seek, we will find. And, as we all know, any project worth doing takes a bit of focused effort.

As a member of the FWB denomination, you never have to “go it alone.” Whether you are able to find an individual who will mentor you or not, you do have a group of retirement planning mentors available to you—the BOR. Because retirement planning is such an important topic which requires information and guidance from a Christian worldview, the NAFWB established the BOR to assist pastors and church workers in preparing for their retirement. While we can’t go fishing with you every Saturday and have long talks on the banks of a river, we can listen to your goals, and share our years of experience with you, to help you establish a good and Godly plan for your retirement. The BOR can speak with you individually, or provide group presentations. We also offer resources on our website. The BOR is here to serve you as you plan for retirement—the next level of our personal and spiritual growth! Please reach out anytime we can help!

Christy Kohnle is a communications consultant and owner of Paradox Communications. She grew up in the Church and has been a life-long Christian, with a strong interest in Biblical financial stewardship. Christy has been managing the BOR communications since September, 2021.