Jack Stotts, former President of Austin Theological Seminary, said upon his retirement:
“My initial conclusion about retirement is that it is a magical world. Now each month checks appear magically in our bank account, courtesy of wire transfers. The economic threat has been tamed, at least for now. In this magical time of retirement, the burden of “dressing up” for work every day is whisked away. I can select my own uniform. Now I can ask, “What do I want to do?” rather than, “What do I have to do for the seminary today? The boundaries of my little world, small though it was, have collapsed. The terrain has shifted. I am free to erect different boundaries, to rearrange the landscape of my life. And that is just the problem. For in retirement I not only can but must reorder my life. In that sense the magical world of retirement is also threatening.”
The question I continue to ask myself is how to reorder my life now that my wife and I have made the decision to move almost 3000 miles to California. Within a new Presbytery in a location where there are few Presbyterian churches (Redwoods Presbytery), how will I live out my “Call” as a Teaching Elder / Minister of Word and Sacrament?
Three things I affirm with conviction in approaching this challenge of reordering my life as a pastor:
I will never stop serving God.
Jesus never retires.
The church, the living and vibrant body of Christ, doesn’t retire!
Returning to Jack Stotts for some insights in living in this world of retirement, this is an insightful article on retirement found at this link:
Jack Stotts says,
“Retirement is not a condition of our self-hood; it is a context for our selfhood. We must adapt, even as we have adapted to new contexts when we have moved from one physical location to another. The late Dr. Joseph Haroutunian, professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary and later at the University of Chicago, dropped this pearl in class one day: ‘Our bodies precede our spirits and our spirits must catch up with our bodies,’ referring to those who move geographically from one place to another. We find ourselves having to grow into a new culture as well as into a new house. Those of us who have moved many times can agree that it takes our emotions and our spirits longer to feel at home than it does n our bodies.”
Traveling over 3000 miles to a new home in California near where our daughter lives, my first task “called to ministry” will be to move and adjust to living in a new context and culture closer to members of our family. I have also done some initial networking by emailing Presbytery officers where I will be living to establish some new contacts/relationships. Nancy and I will be look for a new church home. As this journey continues, I hope to keep up with pulling together some of my thoughts for this blog. These are first steps, ‘baby steps’ as I travel into this magical world of retirement.