On Not Using “R” Word

not using the R word“So how do you like being retired?”

Having resigned my staff position at College Avenue Baptist Church last month, that’s the question I keep hearing from well-meaning folks who assume I’ve stopped working and have all kinds of free time on my hands.

“I’m not really retired,” I insist. “I’m busy. I don’t have time to play golf, go on a cruise or whatever it is that retired people are supposed to do. I have plenty of work to do right now and I’m going to keep right on doing it.”

I even pull my personal mission statement out of my wallet (thank you Steven Covey for making me write it some 25 years ago) and show it to them. “Look, read the last line: I WILL NEVER RETIRE.”

But I get that knowing smile and a little joke to go with it: “True, your not retired. My grandfather always said he wasn’t retired … just tired. And then the next day he was tired all over again. Get it? Re-tired, ha ha”

OK, I get it. Sorry to be so defensive. I’m not sure why I am so against the idea of retirement. This isn’t a point of view that I have come to hastily. I have never had a desire to retire. In fact, as long as I can remember, I’ve held the view that retirement isn’t an option for Christians at all. It’s not biblical. While there is a passage in the book of Numbers (8:23-26) about “retiring” Levite priests over the age of 50, this is clearly not a rule for all people. The vast majority of people in the Bible either get crucified, stoned, taken up, or just drop dead serving God. Joshua was 110 years old when he uttered those famous words “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Age doesn’t seem to matter in the Bible. Paul encouraged Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Tim. 4:12) and I have a feeling he would have said to Timothy 50 years later, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are old, either.” Just keep serving God and being a good example no matter how old you are. My life verse is Psalms 71:18 “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me O my God, til I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty deeds to all who are to come.” That verse doesn’t seem to have a time limit on it.

Now I know that most working people eventually retire from their jobs. They have to, either because they can’t do the work they used to do or they just need a rest. Most jobs can only be done for so long. When a brain surgeon’s hands no longer hold steady, it’s time for him or her to retire. I realized quite a few years ago that I wasn’t going to be a youth worker forever. It has become physically impossible for me to do the things that one must do to be effective with junior high kids. So I have transitioned to other ministries that I am still fully capable of doing. For the past five years, I served as Pastor to Generations at College Avenue Baptist Church and I’m grateful for all that God allowed me to accomplish there.

But now, God has called me to a new job, even if it doesn’t have a title and a regular paycheck to go with it. My job is to serve him every day, doing whatever it is that he wants me to do. I know that God will continue to provide for me opportunities to write, speak, consult, mentor and otherwise put my experience to good use. I still have a passion for youth, family and intergenerational ministry and want to help my local church as well as the global church be effective at strengthening marriages and helping families pass faith on from one generation to the next.

So while I am not keeping regular office hours at a ministry organization, school or church anymore as I once did, I am far from retired. I am transitioning to a new phase of ministry to and with my family, my church, and the world. If I can ever be of service to you, as a speaker, writer, consultant, banjo player or whatever, please get in touch. I’ve got all kinds of free time on my hands!

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