Two events in the past week and a half have me thinking about what it will mean for me to live my life when I retire. I am not planning to retire anytime soon. I love my vocation as a pastor. I am not one of those persons who dreads the start of each new day. But since I am in my latter half of the fifties, retirement is something I ponder more than I did ten years ago. More on that after I tell of the two events.
The first event occurred in a Bible study I facilitate on Tuesday mornings at a local coffee shop. We have been working through the book of Colossians. In 3:17, Paul writes, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." And then just few verses down in his instructions to the various members of a Christian household, Paul states, "Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord" (3:23).
The second event took place at the same coffee shop yesterday. I met with a retired pastor and friend of mine whose ministry in retirement is providing some pulpit supply and even more significantly networking and encouraging pastors still in active ministry. We sat together for about an hour catching up and drinking coffee, and talking about his current retirement and my coming retirement at some point.
Those two events together have me thinking about what my eventual retirement might look like if it is to be a life lived in the name of the Lord Jesus. I have to confess, I am not one to spend my days lounging by a swimming pool. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is just not me. So, when I ponder life in retirement, I know I want to spend time traveling with my wife (we both like to travel), and to continue my love for vegetable gardening, and to spend more time cooking, which I enjoy. But I also want to continue to be in ministry. I want to continue and perhaps increase my teaching mission to pastors overseas, and I want to step up my writing. I have several books inside of me that have yet to be birthed. In addition, like my friend I met with yesterday, I want to be a support for active pastors because I know first-hand what it has meant for me to be supported by retired clergy. I have come to view my eventual retirement not as a retirement from ministry, but rather as a new phase of ministry where I will be enabled to attend to other ministries I love in a more intentional way.
There is something appealing to me to "do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus" until my last breath. As I age what that means will change, but that is OK. Seasons come and go on how we do everything for God's glory, but living for God's glory never goes out of season.
So, as I ponder what it might mean for me to be in ministry when I retire is something I should ponder now, but in the meantime I am thankful to fulfill the calling I have as a pastor; and I pray daily that I will be faithful each in everyday in keeping that charge.
May it all be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)