Retirement – Insights from Scripture

Someone recently said to me; “Now that you are retiring, you can choose to do only what you like doing”. This may be reasonably true of a retiring businessman, but is it true for a past- pastor?

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When I first started giving serious thought to how I would use my time in 2015 and beyond I found it surprisingly difficult (and still do) to decide what it was that would give me ongoing pleasure and purpose. So I thought some more and consulted the scriptures. Three questions emerged that needed to be answered in the following priority order.

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First, “What do you want me to do Lord?” This is a question of ‘calling’. Christian ministers often speak of being called into their particular area of ministry. Whenever an aspirant pastor or preacher approaches me for advice I invariably probe their sense of calling. I don’t believe that anyone should even consider becoming a preacher or a pastor unless they have a deep and confirmed belief that God has called them into that particular ministry. I am sure that this also applies to other types of Christian ministry.

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Now, it is possible that a calling to a particular ministry area is only for a season and that retirement may well mark the end of that phase of Christian endeavour. But even if this is so, we surely need to check back with the one who called us, and earnestly seek His will for the future. Jesus said; “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) and that applies at all times and irrespective of age.

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The second question I needed to ask was; “What is in the best interests of the church?”, and by ‘church’ I mean both local and ‘larger’. Paul wrote that ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’ (Ephesians 5:25), and later he urged the Ephesian elders to ‘be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood’ (Acts 20:28). The church is IMPORTANT and if I profess to love and serve Jesus, its head, then I must put the interests of the church high on my priority list.

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Now, once we respond to these two questions, the third, ‘what do I want to do?’ issue is a lot easier to deal with. Paul writes in Philippians 2:13 that ‘it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose’. So, I can trust the Holy Spirit to instil in me a will to do what He has called me to do. On the other side of this decision-coin is the wonderful affirmation of Psalm 21:2, which reads, ‘You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips’.

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My understanding of the process is that if I seek first to do what I truly believe God has called me to do, and in doing this attempt to serve the best interests of the church, then I will indeed be aided by the Holy Spirit and will find satisfaction and purpose in my endeavours.

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I hope this three-part series of posts on pastoral retirement has been interesting to most and helpful for some. I will now move on to other matters… watch this space.

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2 Responses

  1. Annie Brown

    Thanks Chris. It applies to me in that I dont have children at home anymore. I needed to redefine who I am in Christ and what He wants me to do.

  2. Brian Eekhout

    Thanks, I have not read the other two posts as I reply to this blog, I will. An interesting topic especially with longevity becoming a reality. From what I understand you to say Chris is that the Universal Purpose of a Christian will always be the same i.e. Love God , love and serve others and spread the gospel, but the Unique Purpose changes. i.e. vocation etc

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