Book review: Retirement’s Gift

Retirement's Gift by Bruce Manners.

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Retirement’s Gift
Time to Grow Your Life and Faith
by Bruce Manners

Retirement’s Gift came to me as a timely and welcome gift. It arrived after seven years of semi-retirement, as I found myself moving and savagely downsizing my university office in a final campus relocation. As precious artifacts from my professional life went into the skip-bin, I found myself wondering if I really had made a difference and created a legacy of which I could be proud. Bruce Manners’ book was soothing, reassuring, and challenging all at once—especially for any person of faith, with a long history of engagement in Christian life, community and service. 

I expect that most recent retirees have experienced the slightly uncomfortable feeling of wondering about questions of identity and purpose. The way Bruce writes, I know he started to wonder, too, and I said to myself, “Ah, so I am not the only one! This author truly understands me.” Other chapters and issues underscored this: I was reading a deeply sympathetic and understanding author. Bruce is not so much a walking encyclopedia as a fellow traveller who knows the crucial angles for retirees on the issues he addresses. 

This brings me back to my skip bin, when after my moment of panic, my friends and my spouse reassured me. They said, “You cannot just judge a legacy on paper and cardboard boxes and folders and files going into a bin.” Bruce agrees. He asks us to do some honest stocktaking—not to create discouragement or regret, but to remind ourselves that it’s OK to look in the mirror and be proud in the very best sense.

Retirement’s Gift reminded me that I had only ever had around 8000 days of retirement and that I had done reasonably well in the first 2400 of them. I was encouraged to finetune my ongoing sense of purpose. I was glad to be reading the book this many days into retirement. It had a ring of credibility. It spoke truth. It spoke courage. It will be strong food for thought and reflection for the days remaining in my retirement.

Retirement’s Gift is available now from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online

Dr Lyell Heise is an Avondale University Seminary conjoint lecturer.

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