Assuming that I live long enough to retire, I’ve been wondering lately if & when I would actually do it.

The question I keep thinking through is, “When does a pastor retire?”. When do I say “Well, that’s enough.” and stop pastoring?

If I do retire, do I take on a role as a volunteer? I just don’t think I’ll ever be done serving. Maybe I won’t get a check, but I think I’m going to be a “pastor” for the rest of my life. I definitely HOPE that I always feel compelled to shepherd, serve, and teach.

Should I even consider retiring? I keep thinking about a pastor I worked with named George Bedlion. He must have been up in his 80’s, and he was still running the show in one of our family ministries!

I heard that Francis Chan doesn’t even have a savings account!

What do you think? Any kingdom-minded readers out there that are wrestling through what to do when they get to retirement age?

11 thoughts on “Retirement”

  1. Economically I do think it is smart to save for the future. But I also believe retirement is just something created by our culture. It speaks to our desire for comfort, entertainment, relaxation, and individualism.

  2. well, how can you retire from something that is supposed to be our life? i mean, when you think about it, “pastoring” is something that you and i as followers of christ are supposed to do with every breath we breath. so i guess i have to answer the question with a question…what are you retiring from, a paycheck or a lifestyle? retiring from a paycheck and having money to live off of is not something that we have to worry about being wrong. it’s ok to do so. i just think about when i retire…after i’m a pastor again…someday…i am just stopping taking a paycheck, but my life doesn’t end there. so in other words i am not going to work in a church for money…but i am going to live a life that brings people to christ who i meet every day.

  3. Consider a few things…
    1 you may not want to, but at 70 others may want you to.
    2 you may find yourself not physically or mentally able.
    3 I see retirement as a handing the baton off. I can still serve God, and if I’m free financially I can do it in whatever capacity needed at the time.
    4. You may feel different at 65 than you do at 35. So keeping the option open is wise. If you chose not to retire you can give away your retirement fund to charity.
    5. I’d be very curious to know Francis chan’s net worth in his portfolio, from intellectual property to book royalties, to investments other than ‘savings account.’. I think you’d find your situation is very different. I love Francis, but I’d be suprized if he had no financial plan at all for his future.
    Just food for thought.

  4. Two examples:

    One pastor I used to serve with who retired explained to me with a tone of cynicism that he was ready to focus on taking care of his garden. I never saw him at church again.

    A professor I had in Bible college retired after 50+ years of ministry. Retirement for him meant he was still teaching one class at the college, serving as an elder at his church, preaching occasionally, and pouring into other pastors and teachers. His passion for Jesus was contagious.

    I want to retire like the second guy.

  5. Ryan good insights, I also liked what Mark had to say, Cameron makes a really good point about this being a “life” thing.

    My father recently retired, and he assumed that playing Golf would fill the void work left behind. Whilst he was a computing guy, I was really fascinated to see what transpired.

    For the first 6 months he played Golf relentlessly, every day he would be out there, but the more he played the more restless he became. I had a chat with him that went along the lines of “don’t waste your life just playing Golf, serve the church.”

    So he volunteered 1 day a week doing finances, now he is up to 3 and loving it. Since retiring my dad is more involved in church than ever, its really exciting.

    I think for me in Ministry, I want to be sensitive to when it is “time to hand the baton off”. I would love to wrap up Pastoral ministry at like 60, having handed it off to a capable young pastor. I would love to become a lecturer for a few years and teach till I die.

    Of course I have told my wife, I am keen to die at 50 in a blazing gunfight rescuing orphans, protecting here from mad militant warriors, only because that would look sweet on a tombstone. But if that doesn’t pan out, what I said above would be pretty sweet.

  6. Tyler I don’t know the history of retirement, but I’d imagine you’re right. It was probably invented to prevent moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents from moving back in with the younger generation!

    Good thoughts Cam

    Mark, others may want me to stop WAY before 70, haha! You’re right that I might not physically or mentally be able to pastor. Well, you’re right about everything you said. Well done.

    Joel I like that second guy too.

    I think I’ll keep on trucking until I am doing more harm than good. We’ve got a retirement plan, and we add money to it pretty often (actually my in-laws do most of the adding). Either way I’m sure we’ll be OK!

  7. The worshiper in me knows that I will always be serving in some capacity…that and the fact that I can’t sit still for very long.

    The human and husband in me knows that I want to honor my family and be wise in terms of making sure that when I’m 72 I don’t HAVE to work at Wal-Mart to make ends meet. (nothing wrong with that if you do because you love it)

    I believe Mark it on the head in point #3.

    What about the parable of the talents? Time is a precious commodity. With no time because we’re having to work away our life to put food on the table, where does the time go to pour into others and serve the Kingdom constructively?

  8. Jaydubbs, you’re wise beyond your years.

    I’ve never let anything get in the way of my free time. I graduated with a 4-year degree in 7 years, but I wasn’t miserable for those 4 years like so many people I know and hear about. Go and do likewise.

  9. Duncan, if you get a chance to rescue orphans in a blazing gunfight will you please let me know? I think I’m going to Fiji in May with some people from your church. Lets do this, haha!

    That’s a great story about your dad. It’s cool that you have the freedom to speak into his life like that.

  10. Bro might see you on that mission trip, could be bringing the camera on that one and shooting some interviews for the COC.

    If it goes down in Fiji it will probably involve Machete’s not guns….I’ll be packing.

    Love this discussion, just watched a powerful sermon by Francis Chan called “The most important thing that I’ll ever teach” – he talks a lot on retirement!

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