Thursday, December 30, 2010

On Review ...

When I crossed the barrier from middle age to the Big 6-0 and Semi Senior Status, I couldn't help but begin wondering if maybe, just maybe I was beginning to approach retirement age. For a few fleeting moments my wife and I began to consider what retirement would look like. But a funny thing happened on the way to the rest home. We ran across the personification of the energizer bunny: a missionary who is ready for anything but quitting. Never mind that he's up into his eighties.
When this dear brother began to preach at our church, he detailed how the mission board had "retired" him sixteen years ago. That's sixteen years of continual travel, Bible teaching, preaching and assorted other items of ministry past his "retirement" (a dirty word).
Suddenly, I feel like a teenager.
The ministry is that odd occupation where one never really becomes good at it until his hair is white enough, or so it seems. Yes, I know Spurgeon was about eighteen when he began preaching at New Park Street Chapel, and yes, he was a roaring success from the beginning. But even Spurgeon confessed to still learning how to preach well up into the years of his ministry. And he died before age sixty. Maybe Spurgeon was just ahead of his time.
All I know is that notions of retirement have died. Not that I know how long I'm going to pastor our present church. I really don't know how it's going to work out, or how long the work will take. I would like to bring the church to clear stability and let someone else take it forward.
But then, what would I do? All I can say is that I'm definitely going to do something. Preachers have to preach, and this preacher is not about to quit just when I'm beginning to get the hang of it.
After all, I'm only sixty, and "retirement" is a dirty word.

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