FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Impacting the World in Your Retirement

with Bob Buford | January 23, 2009
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Retirement: go ahead, go back, or go away? Bob Buford encourages those nearing retirement to refocus and use their time to advance God’s kingdom.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Retirement: go ahead, go back, or go away? Bob Buford encourages those nearing retirement to refocus and use their time to advance God’s kingdom.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Retirement: go ahead, go back, or go away?

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Impacting the World in Your Retirement

With Bob Buford
January 23, 2009
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Bob Buford: He drew a box on a sheet of notebook paper, and he put a dollar sign on one side of the box and a cross on the other side.  He said, "I want you to write down what the primary loyalty of your life is, because when I talk to you, you're talking about business things, and you're talking about ministry things.  And which is it?"  And the air was so thick in that car that you could cut it up and make bricks out of it.

Bob Lepine: And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  Before we introduce our guest and talk about what we want to talk about today, this is Day Number 19 in our 40-day Love Dare.  We're about halfway through the Love Dare, and this is taken from the book, "The Love Dare," which was featured in the movie "Fireproof" that was out in theaters back last fall.  We thought between the beginning of the year and Valentine's Day we ought to have our own 40-day Love Dare and give ourselves a little love tuneup so that we can love like we mean it.  And if you'd like to get a copy of "The Love Dare" book, you can go to and order one from us.

But each day we are giving out an assignment for you that's your Love Dare for the day.  It's also posted on our website at, and today we read from 1 John 4:7 that says "Let us love one another for love is from God.  Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God."  The title on today's Love Dare is Love is Impossible.  The reality is the source of our love for one another ought to begin with our love for God and His love for us.

So your assignment today is to look back over some of the Love Dares from the previous days.  Which were the ones that seemed really hard to almost impossible to you?  Have you realized your need for God to change your heart and to give you the ability to love?  You need to ask Him to show you where you stand with Him and then ask for the strength and the grace to settle your eternal destination. 

And, again, if you have not been following along with us on the Love Dare, you can get a copy of the book from us at You will also find information on our website about our upcoming season of FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences.  They kick off in three weeks, and we hope you'll make plans to attend one of those conferences when it comes to a city near where you live.  Or if you want to attend on Valentine's weekend, we have a number of conferences being hosted in cities all around the country that very weekend, and, again, all the details are on our website,

Now, today what we want to talk about, or I guess I should say what you want to talk about because, in reality, the guest we have on today is a guy that you just wanted to have in the studio so you could sit across the table from him and ask him a bunch of questions that are on your own heart.  Our listeners are welcome to listen in, but today's program is really designed primarily for you, isn't it?

Dennis: Well, it actually is for our listeners, Bob.

Bob Lepine: Yeah?

Dennis: Because I know we're seated across the table from a very talented, gifted man who has had some experiences that I think our listeners can benefit from.  And I happen to like him and have personally benefited as well from his writing as well as just interpersonal interaction, and our hearts tend to beat in kind of the same direction, shall we say?

Bob Lepine: Yeah.

Dennis: And so I thought we'd introduce our guest to our listeners and let them benefit personally.

Bob Lepine: But when it comes to the questions, this is just the stuff that you want to know, isn't it?

Dennis: Well, yeah, because he's a lap ahead of me, just a lap, and I thought, "Well, what better opportunity to get together and kind of pick his brain and find out what he's thinking.  Well, our guest is Bob Buford from Dallas, Texas.  Bob, thanks for coming back and being a part of our broadcast again.

Bob Buford: Pleased to be here.  But I think I should say in the spirit of Texas, "Aw, shucks," after that.

Dennis: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Bob is the founder and chairman of the board of Leadership Network.  He has authored four books including an updated version of "Halftime," which has sold over a half million copies.  Did you ever believe that book would sell a half million copies?

Bob Buford: How in the world could I be arrogant enough to think such a thing?  And I'll just say about the book, it carries an original foreword by Peter Drucker that is worth the whole book, and it carries a new foreword by Jim Collins that is – that's two or three of the greatest pages you'll read.  So I think you'd get your money's worth in about the first six pages without reading a word that I say.

Dennis: Well, as we've already mentioned, he lives in Dallas, along with his life, Linda, and I just want to take some of the things you've experienced since you wrote this book – well, now, almost 15 years ago, Bob. 

You know, you're talking about in the book, "Halftime," of deploying a massive number of businessmen and women who fill the pews in the church all around the United States in Kingdom work.  Now, we're not talking about them becoming paid to be good and moving into full-time Christian ministry.  We're just talking about them taking a sliver, a slice, or a portion of their life and using it in Kingdom work.

As you've interacted with individuals at your Halftime Institutes, what have you noticed about this group of halftimers that are emerging?  What are they grappling with, and kind of, how are they counting the cost, and what's their conclusion that they're coming to?

Bob Buford: Well, there are two or three things.  First of all, the phrase that I hear most often coming back to me is, "I read your book.  You are describing exactly the way I am feeling at this stage of my life.  I've been there and done that, and I don't have a clue what to do next."

Dennis: In other words, they don't know how to deploy in Kingdom work?

Bob Buford: They don't know how, and the Christian organizations that they are part of really don't know how to deploy them either.

Dennis: The church?  How about it?

Bob Buford: I think they're in the face of highly successful people often intimidated by those people, and I want to say, I've spent the last 24 years working with megachurches, so I'm on their side, but I think their strength is to win people to Christ and grow people up in Christ and get people in small groups.  But what recent research has shown is that there are something like 25 percent of the people that are the most mature believers who say that the church isn't quite there for them in this stage of their life; that they're either stalled or dissatisfied.

However, having said that, the Halftime Institute is a 24-hour program that goes noon through noon, and what we see is, when we ask people at the beginning of the program to describe their lives, is a very elementary kind of picture.  And within 24 hours of thinking about what their strengths are – most people know what their roles are.  They know they're a lawyer or car salesman or a nurse or something like that, but they don't know the underlying strengths.  And once they discover that and begin to dream a little bit about what might be done with their time, talent, and treasure for the Kingdom, it is buried two feet below the surface.  I mean it isn't real deep there; it's something that's been in their life a long, long time.

Dennis: You're talking about what they do well and what they can succeed at.

Bob Buford: And what they can succeed at if they change their mission from making more money or getting promotion to serving other people in God's name.

Bob Lepine: But you know, Bob, that a lot of guys in their 40s and their 50s are still feeling the pressure to provide.  And when you start to think about, "Okay, I'm going to channel my time, talent and treasure for Kingdom work," here a guy is thinking, "I can't do that yet, because I've still got college educations to pay for and weddings that are coming up, and I've got to wait to do that until after I've taken care of all the financial stuff."

Bob Buford: Sure, well, I had that experience and very directly.  When I was in my most intensely burning first half of my life, growing a company at over 20 percent a year, my wife and I visited with one of the world's great strategic planners – Mike Kammy, who is a guy that got bonused $1 million to move from one firm to another.  And he drew a box on a sheet of notebook paper, and he put a dollar sign on one side of the box and a cross on the other side.

He said, "I want you to write down what the primary loyalty of your life is, because when I talk to you, you're talking about business things, and you're talking about ministry things, and which is it?" 

The room fell stony silent, and I said, "Well, of those two, kind of doing the math, I think I'd put Jesus in the box, because the longevity on that is longer than longevity on money."  We spent an hour in the car afterwards driving to our next stop, and the air was so thick in that car that you could cut it up and make bricks out of it.  I mean, Linda saw her life pass before us.  I think that's kind of what you're talking about.  She was looking for a life of polyester and poverty the rest of her life and driving used cars that didn't work and whatever – I mean, all this had these terrifying …

Dennis: You've seen Bob's car.


Bob Buford: I mean, we all have these terrifying stereotypes of what it might mean if we ever let go and let God have our life.  My experience is that that seldom happens; that God usually builds on someone's history, even negative history – a history of alcoholism or abuse or things like that frequently are the things that allow people to be ministers to others in that situation in that area.

Bob Lepine: But you know how a guy feels a responsibility to make sure he can provide for the basics of life, and if I abandon it all for Jesus, is that going to happen?

Bob Buford:  Whoa, whoa, I didn't say abandon it all for Jesus.  In "Finishing Well," my fourth book, there are four or five ways to go about this.  The way I went about it was to develop a parallel career where I allocated 10 percent and then 20 percent of myself to Kingdom initiatives and still had 80 percent of me involved in business.

When I was 42, I said I'd like to change the relationship and get 80 percent of me involved in ministry.  It took me eight years to do that, and it took me another 10 or so years to get to the point where I was ready to sell my company and do that.  So pretty soon I am where I am now.

Dennis: You're out of business now?

Bob Buford: I cashed in the business, put most of it in a foundation and intend to die broke.

Dennis: So your foundation is not going to outlive you?

Bob Buford: It's not going to outlive me.

Dennis: You're going to give it all away.

Bob Buford: It's ready to go.

Dennis: Good.  Having said all that, and you said you're out of business, I want to know how you view retirement?  Because there's a lot of discussion right now with literally millions of baby-boomers – the first one is going to turn 62, 63 this year.  There's going to be a line of them – 77 million going to move right on up to the brink and decide what do I do with these years in my 60s and 70s?

Bob Buford:  Yeah, well, look, you've got three choices right then.  The three choices are go ahead, go back, or go away.  The go away choice is that you take whatever your limited funds are, move to a time-share condominium in a very warm climate and play shuffleboard the rest of your – or golf, or whatever, which doesn't seem …

Dennis: You're making that sound so appealing.


I'm looking out on our engineer, Keith Lynch, and he's already practicing his moves.


Bob Buford: Well, look, most people I know that have any energy and ambition at all can get all the golf they need played, that sabbatical vacation they've always longed to have done in 90 days or six months.  And then there is the whole rest of your life.  If you're 50 years old, odds are on that you're good for another 30 years – a whole second adulthood.

And are you just going to go away and watch Jerry Springer all day long?  I mean, I really don't think so.

Dennis: Okay, so go away – that's not a good idea.

Bob Buford: I'm not fond of that idea.

Dennis: I don't think that's biblical.

Bob Buford: If I've said that clearly, I'm not for that.

Dennis: I think we're clear.

Bob Buford: The second is go back – doing business or doing the job that I'm doing is all I know how to do.  You know, it's structured every day of my life for the past 30 or 40 years, so I'm going to go back and do that because it's who I am, and it's what Peter Drucker called "a failure of imagination."

Bob Lepine: So what does going back look like?  If somebody goes back …

Dennis: Are they just going back to their career?

Bob Buford: Go back to their career – mainly go back to their career and …

Bob Lepine: You don't really retire, you just kind of keep …

Bob Buford: No, you retire on the job, but you kind of run at half speed and, you know, you've mastered something, so you're in the master class, and you don't do it the way you did it when you were 22 that required all that energy.

Bob Lepine: You just kind of coast, basically.

Bob Buford: You coast.

Dennis: Okay, so …

Bob Buford: The chore for the second half of life is to figure out what to do with the second half that is season-appropriate to that stage in life.  Find something that uses the person you are and that serves the God you believe in and that makes a living, too, if that's a necessity and get on with the program.

Dennis: You tell a story in your book about a Quaker prayer that had to do with how a person's hands were placed before God, and it was at a key point in your life.  Why don't you share that with our listeners, because I think it really does symbolically represent how we should live our lives.

Bob Buford: Yeah.  It's based on a very, very deep medieval prayer that is probably well-known to some people that uses the words A-C-T-S, ACTS.  And the words are Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  So when I pray, I pray in that order.

However, the way I learned this prayer was a guy taught it to me on the way into the Denver Airport, and he was driving.  So, you know, he didn't want to say "Close your eyes and bow your head to pray."  So he did it with his hands, and taught me this Quaker thing.  The first stage is adoration, where you raise your hands, you know, make a gesture of adoration; the second, for me, is confession, and in that I put my hands forward as if they were on the chest of Christ, and pass through all the rottenness that's in me into Him.  Pass your sins over, and you're as clean as the driven snow.  There really is a second chance in life.  There are multiple second chances.  The third is, in Thanksgiving I open up my hands, palms up, and just receive the things that God has given me in my life, which have been incredible.  And the last is I turn my palms over and release my life and everything in an act of supplication, or prayers for other people or prayers – my prayer now is a version of just show me the way.  I'm up, I'm available, as they say in the Nike commercial, "Let's Do It."

Dennis: Yeah, and I'm thinking of maybe a listener who might have tuned into this broadcast who needs to hold their hands up in a form of surrender.

Bob Buford: Yeah.

Dennis: Because I think the relationship with Christ begins as we surrender our lives fully and completely to Him by faith.

Bob Buford: One of the people who endorsed very graciously "Halftime," was a man named Henry Now [sp] and a Catholic priest and a great writer.  Some think the successor to Thomas Merton, the great Catholic writer.  And I had dinner with him one night, and he said, "You know, I understand what you're saying about success to significance, but I believe there are four stages in life, and you've described two of them.  The first is struggle – half the people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $2 a day.  The second is success, and I define success as building up your own portfolio – making your mark in life, being – you know, acquiring a reputation or funds or power or any of those things.  They are all in Matthew, chapter 4, if you want to look them up, and they're still the same things – they're money, reputation, and power.  Just like Jesus was tempted.

The third is significance – significance is using your – what you're good at and what your passionate about to serve others.  But it's pretty much like success.  It just, you know, has a different mission.  He said, "I think there is a next stage, and the next stage is to surrender."  And he said – this is a very cryptic and unusual thing.  I mean, it took me a couple of days to process that, so I'll just say it.  He said, "I don't think people can pass from success to surrender in one jump because they'd be too angry."  I said, "What do you mean?"  And he said, "They would be so conscious of what they were giving up that it would be hard for them.  So people can give themselves over in the area of their own strengths and gifts in serving others, and that's kind of a passageway to the other side, and the other side is surrender.

Dennis: Well, there is no question for a person to come into a relationship with Christ ultimately at some point they do have to come to that point of personal surrender, placing their faith in Him.

Bob Lepine: Yeah, you've got to come to a place where you say, "The way that I've been running things isn't satisfying the longing in my own heart and my own soul.  It's not accomplishing what I was designed by God to accomplish.  I'm not bringing glory to Him," and at that point, you are ready to say, "Okay, my way is not only not working, but I've made a mess of things, and I need God's forgiveness, I need transformation in my life, and I need hope."  And that's the offer of the Gospel.  Jesus Christ came to reconcile us to God; to take the broken relationship between us and God that had been broken by our sin, to pay the penalty for our sin so that that relationship with God is repaired, is reconciled.  And what we have to do in response to that is just as you've said, surrender, yield, and put our faith and trust in the saving work of Jesus to re-establish our relationship with God, which is where the real search for purpose and meaning and significance in our lives really begins and ends.

And I want to invite any of our listeners, Dennis, who have sensed in their own heart and soul, that longing, that yearning, for life to have meaning and purpose and significance to find it today by turning away from their own self-directed life and turning to Christ and putting their faith and trust in Him.

We have a book that we'd love to send to any listener like that who wants to trust Christ today.  It's called "Pursuing God," and it's designed to explain to you what it means to have a relationship with God through Christ. 

You can call us a 1-800-FLTODAY to request a copy.  We'll send it to you at no cost to you and with no obligation so that you can understand what it means to walk in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

And then let me also encourage you to go to our website,, where there is information on how you can get a copy of Bob Buford's book, "Halftime."  Get a copy of this book and read through it and begin to ask the question – how does my life need to be re-prioritized so that Kingdom objectives are at the center of what my life is all about?

Again, our website,, you can also call for more information about the book, "Halftime" at 1-800-FLTODAY, and when you call someone on our team will let you know how you can have that book sent to you as well.

Let me say a quick word here at the end of the week to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We so appreciate your partnership with us.  FamilyLife Today is listener-supported, so when folks like you call or go online and make a donation to help support the ministry, those funds go to help defray the costs associated with the syndication and production of this radio program making it available on this station and on other stations all across the country.

This month, if you are able to help support FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount, we have a gift we'd like to send you.  It's the book, "Moments With You," written by Dennis and Barbara Rainey – a daily devotional guide – 365 devotions designed to help husbands and wives communicate with one another more effectively, grow closer to one another and grow closer in your relationship with God.

If you'd like to receive a copy of the book, "Moments With You," all you have to do is write the word "moments" in the keycode box on the donation form when you make your contribution to FamilyLife Today online, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can make a donation over the phone and just request a copy of the book, "Moments With You."  Again, we are happy to send it to you, and we very much appreciate your support of the ministry and your partnership with us.

And we hope you have a great weekend.  I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday, when we're going to talk to a former NFL pro football player and his wife.  While John Bramlett was experiencing great success in the NFL on the field, his marriage was a mess off the field.  We'll talk about that next week, and I hope you can join us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow. 

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