It was like reviewing the lineup for an all-star game, but instead of athletes, the participants were pastors. The august gathering of God’s shepherds was a retirement party for my former pastor, celebrating his twenty seven years of service as senior pastor of his church. Joined by dozens of current and former members of the church, our family was grateful to honor the pastor and his wife for so many faithful years of service to God.
Different speakers took turns offering tributes and recounting humorous stories of the pastor and his family, culminating in a speech and benediction from a pastor of a sister church who also recently retired. He spoke of his own experiences of retirement and what his expectations were and how they were either met or shattered. It led to a startling statement, “Retirement is not found in the Bible!”
After reflecting for a few seconds, I realized it was true. None of the great saints of the Bible ever retired. The way they served God changed over their lifetimes, but their service to God never faltered or stopped. The point of the statement was although our pastor was now retiring, it did not mean that his service to God was ending. It was a beautiful reminder of our true calling as followers of Jesus Christ. We do not retire, we re-purpose.
I have arrived at the life stage where many of my friends and co-workers have retired. Some have devoted their newly discovered free time to their families, hobbies, and travel. These are all noble endeavors and certainly something I have considered, but what about our direct service to God and His Church?
A dear sister in Jesus Christ inspired me to aspire to a different goal. Several years ago when she retired, she requested our pastor to use her in any way he saw a need in the church. As the pastor remarked upon hearing this, “This is the kind of request that brings joy to the ears of any pastor!” She admirably fulfilled her request, serving on the board for the church and using her creative and organizational skills to spearhead numerous outreach projects.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)
I am prayerfully seeking God’s guidance to answer the question if and when I should retire. When that day arrives, I will certainly enjoy the extra time I will have to pursue my interests. Yet, God reminds me that if He has given me the financial security to retire, I should prioritize and pursue activities that further the Kingdom of God. As a child of God, I was created by Him to pursue good works in the Name of Jesus Christ so that I, and everyone I meet, will walk in them.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.