RETIREMENT THUS FAR
Since June 30th of this year, when I retired, many people have asked me about how I am adjusting to retirement. I have a suspicion that most people didn’t think I could really pull it off! Well, in your faces doubters, so far so good! Actually, I am making the adjustment even better than I anticipated.
There are some things I absolutely do not miss. I was a parish pastor for 37 years, 28 of which I was a solo or senior pastor. Because of who I am, I could never completely turn it off. The many and various concerns of the congregation were with me 24/7, if not in my immediate consciousness, then somewhere lurking in the back of my mind. The next sermon, or confirmation class, or adult class, or big program, or concerns for parishioners, or problems in the congregation, or staff issues, or long range planning, or conflicts between people, or fundraising and budgets, or commitments outside the congregation, or a host of other things were always percolating in the deep recesses of my psyche. Don’t get me wrong, I had a passion for ministry, and I loved pastoral ministry. In my case, my great passion was perhaps both a blessing and a curse. But in these last four months, I no longer wake up in the night with my mind racing out of control. I sleep a whole lot better. I used to get up no later than 5:00 am. Now I sleep until at least 7:00 am.
What I do miss most is the people. My last five years of ministry I was blessed beyond description to pastor a congregation of incredible people, wonderful people, beautiful people! I love them very much, and I miss them. We now live 75 miles from that community – a little too far to just drop in. I dearly miss the daily interactions with the people I worked with and the many interactions with all sorts of people that occurred in the course of a day or week. I cannot put it any more succinctly than that.
We have made two joyful trips to see the grandkids, and hopefully Christmas will be the next one. I am slowly getting involved in my new community, a small town in the central Colorado Rockies. I have made a few great new friends (one actually), but it takes time for an introvert like me. I have read about 40 books of various genres, and I have a shoulder surgery coming up in two weeks I need to get past and do the rehab.
My biggest project is a book that I am just beginning to write. Right now it is titled: “Wisdom From the Crucible: Practical Insights For Pastoral Ministry.” If nothing else, it is a way to keep my mind sharp and share with a younger generation (or anyone for that matter) some insights and pieces of wisdom I acquired over the years, most of which I learned the hard way – by learning from my mistakes.
I chose to use the word “crucible” in the title to describe the experience of pastoral ministry. For me, crucible is the perfect word. Merriam-Webster offers three definitions for “crucible,” all of which apply.
1) a vessel of refractory material used for melting a substance that requires a high degree of heat.
2) a severe test or challenge
3) a situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development.
All three of those definitions apply aptly to pastoral ministry. (more about that in the book)
Anyway, I have come up with 20 little nuggets of wisdom that I wish to pass on. So, stay tuned, the little book will come out sometime in 2014. Maybe someone will publish it. If not, I will self-publish with perhaps a little help from my friends!
The last thing I want to say about retirement thus far is quite simply that I have not driven my dear wife Marcia nuts – yet – even though I am around a whole lot more. I love her more than ever and, by all indicators, she loves me!
In case you were wondering (or not), that’s retirement thus far!