Will I ever retire from the ministry? No! And..

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day.

People often comment about pastor’s never retiring, and I have often wondered how to explain to them, that being a pastor is never a career, it is not a job from which you can retire.  It was hard to explain, until I came across this great explanation – given by a Catholic priest….

A long time ago someone asked me, tactlessly, whether those of us whose career is the priesthood are able to retire when we get old. And since I gave him no answer, he persisted with his impertinent question. Then an answer came to me which, I thought, is indisputable. “The priesthood”, I told him, “is not a career: it is an apostolate.” That’s how I feel about it. And I wanted to put it down in these notes so that—with God’s help—none of us may ever forget the difference.  (1)

What Lutherans call the “office of Holy Ministry”, what my friends who are catholic call receiving “Holy Orders” is not a career, it is something about who we are – it becomes as much our existence, even though we poorly serve in it, as any other thing which defines who we are.   Priests, pastors, deacons, bishops/district presidents, whatever the semantics, those called into ministry, serve with their very lives.  I love how Romans 12, describes such service.

1 So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Romans 12:1 (TEV)

Living sacrifices don’t have expiration dates – we are what we are.  Those called into the office of ministry serve, and when they “retire” they find other people to serve, other places – often those places that can’t afford a pastor – or another pastor.  Nor should they, even at least serving as mentors to younger pastors, or spending their times investing themselves into the next generation of servants – doing so, not with the air of the professional – but the attitude of Christ – with gentleness and humility, lifting up those who have served.

But that brings me to another point, the idea that while some are called to the office of ministry, all of us are called to minister – for the word diakonos – minister – simply means servant.  Romans 12 goes on to describe a number of ways all those in the church serve – just as St Peter  says in 1 Peter 2:9.

9 But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light1 Peter 2:9 (NJB)

You do not get to retire either – and I see this – some of the most dependable servants in the church, are some of the oldest, and indeed some many would wonder why they bother.

When I think about it – the reason we, as believers, shouldn’t retire – the best reason is this:

Because it’s not just a job…..it is walking with God – and seeing Him at work...

Remember to ask that His mercy is seen, as well as had – as you serve for the rest of your life as well.

Godspeed!

 

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2165-2170). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on January 3, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Interesting thoughts. We distinguish ourselves from the RCC understanding, in that we speak of the call from God into ministry, whereas RCC adds the change within the person (ontological). But the idea of retirement is foreign to both positions. I knew one “retired LCMS District President” who continued preaching almost every Sunday until he was 90. He couldn’t drive the last few years, so his wife did all the driving. “Old preachers do not retire, they are put out to pastor.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: