I’ve been privileged to serve God as a Pastor for 42 years and a hospital chaplain for seven years. I was called to Deer Creek Baptist Church in June of 2014. God has blessed me with opportunities to earn a Bachelor of Sacred Literature with Ozark Christian College, Joplin, MO; Master of Divinity with Lincoln Christian Seminary, Lincoln, IL; Level I and Level II Units of Clinical Pastoral Education, Fort Wayne, IN; and additional credits at Tulsa Junior College, Tulsa, OK. I also currently work with Calvert-Metzler Funeral Home in Bloomington, IL.
MAKING DECISIONS IN LIFE
As we age, I do not know that more decisions have to be made but certainly different ones come into play. I listen to others at our church contemplate their retirement plans once they feel they are able to stop working. I hear plans about selling their home, traveling, camping, spending more time with family who live away, or just staying put as they are until death. My own mother said, “They will have to roll me out of this house to the funeral home.” The most intriguing plans I hear are when couples want to commit themselves to work on the mission field now that they would be free from the workplace and pursuit of money to make a living.
For example, the discussion and obvious joy about being to go to a distant place and work at a Christian Children’s Ranch in whatever capacity they would need at the time. Instead of just regular camping in some warm place, they would take that camper and live at the ranch to volunteer their labor, knowledge, and lifetime experiences to the children and staff.
For example, the possibility of working with some Christian relief agency to help with natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and the like. There are numerous organizations available where your labor, skills, and resources can be utilized to help others. What an unselfish way to spend your retirement rather than just please yourself.
This particular decision is running rampant through my mind now only because I tend to be a planner well ahead of time. The problem is that the answer seems to be elusive and keeps changing at will. At 62 years of age, I will have been preaching fifty years in September of 2028. I was the pastor of my first church at the age of 19 while in Bible College. I will be married in May of 2029 also for fifty years. We are planning on hosting a big banquet for both occasions sometime in-between those dates.
Will we retire then? That is the major elusive decision, but four elusive parts come into play. First, can we afford to retire then and not have any income coming in? The ministry is not normally the most lucrative occupation to be involved in to say the least. Second, will we still be healthy or not to do our job? Third, will we still be effective for the congregation as we age, or would it be better to let a younger pastor take over the duties? I will never stand in the way of the best thing for the church. Fourth, after fifty years of loving what we do, can we leave it for something else? Can we leave the responsibility even if we can do just a part of it?
I have always said I wanted to retire at age seventy-five, but will that remain true? The average man lives to the age of seventy-six in the United States. The average woman to the age of eighty-one. Everything comes into play when considering when to retire when and if we possibly can. If so, what will we do and where will we go? I do know, if my wife outlives me, and according to the average she will do just that, I want her living close to her huge family in Indiana for support, at least just before I die. Until then though is the question of where will we go? What will we do? How will we live? A type A personality like myself is not acquainted with a rocking chair or any chair for very long.
With all of my scheming, planning, and wondering about retirement, I cannot help but remember what is recorded in Scripture, “ 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
In other words, it is not really up to me. I just hope someone very important upstairs will be able to say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant” after my death. Nothing else really matters in the long run or just retirement years either.
Deer Creek Baptist Church
207 N. Main St.
PO Box 243
Deer Creek, IL 61733