Monday, March 25, 2013

On retiring

Last month I announced my retirement to our church council. Pretty strange time. New territory for me. I had never done it before. I don't know what to expect. It was something I remember saying from a younger perspective - boldly proclaiming, in fact - I would never do. I could never see myself doing.  And here I am having done it and wondering what I am going to do now. I remember hearing older ministers looking down on the idea of retirement as if one (a minister) could ever retire from doing the Lord's work. Retirement was like giving up, failing to go the distance, forfeiting the prize, abandoning your calling. I am thinking about all those memories. Yet, it seems the right thing to do, the right time, as far as we ever know these things. I have no absolute confidence in my decision. I cannot deny my age or how long I have been doing this pastor thing (nearly forty years). Karl Barth puts it bluntly, "humanity is temporality." How right he is. I don't know how I got to this point in my life (oh yes I do) but there is no sense claiming I haven't. I still enjoy many parts of the work of ministry and the people who have been engaged in it with me. I still have energy (but I have to admit I have lost a step or two). I genuinely like the teaching and the preaching along with the study that goes with it. I like to think there may be more of it ahead of me. But, I don't know. I do know there comes a time to move on. I do know that being a pastor is a peculiar calling within the church. You are one of "us" in the body but you are not, too. You are different because you are Pastor. That title entails all sorts of baggage, some harder to carry than others. I know I'm feeling tired. No use denying it. I am looking forward to just being a disciple, again (a little bit anyway).