Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and their companions never planned for retirement or made the transition into it. They simply kept working until they died. Retirement for the masses is an invention of our modern western culture. Never before in history have the majority of people had enough money to be able to quit working with 20-30 years of their lives remaining.
If Jesus were telling the parable of the rich man in Luke 12 today, he would probably talk about the missionary getting on-line daily to check his retirement portfolio, thinking about diversifying, perhaps by a strategic rebalancing of stocks, bonds, and real estate. This modern rich missionary may still say to himself or herself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19)
Retirement can take many forms from a delightful, freeing experience to a traumatic, depressing one. A major factor in determining which it becomes is the planning one has done. Most people make some sort of financial plan for it, if nothing more than knowing that Social Security (or similar benefits) will be available. However, people need to think about where they will live, if they will have enough money, what they will do, and who will be in their circle of friends. This planning should begin early, but at the latest, early in the last term of service before retirement.