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When Should a Pastor Retire?

 
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Post When Should a Pastor Retire? FG Minister
I've heard some say "Bless God, they'll have to carry me out of the pulpit." Is that a wise statement?

I have known pastors who stayed in the pastorate until their 80's and had to mumble through a sermon, or were so worn out they had no drive. They didn't plan for the future, because they could barely make it through the day! I know other pastors who had to sit down to preach because they were so ill. Now if you are of sound mind, still setting ministry goals for the future and still able to pastor the congregation by visiting and counseling etc. - all is well.

But at what point does the pastor just need to own the facts - this congregation is not being served as well as they could be with another man at the helm. I don't think any of us should ever quit preaching and teaching if we are able, but the pastorate is demanding and taxing. I think we need to consider our parishioners and not just ourselves when deciding whether to stay or go.
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4/16/22 8:58 am


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Post FLRon
I completely agree with you FG. To me, there aren’t many things more pitiful than listening to someone try to preach a sermon when it is obvious to all in attendance that the minister is having trouble putting coherent sentences together.

Sadly, so many pastors fail to plan for the inevitable time when they will no longer be able to carry out their duties like they once did. Must be the “Superman” complex in all of us that convinces us that it won’t happen to me.

Anyway, I know a lot of pastors who say they don’t do it for the $$$, yet in their later years they can’t/won’t leave because they need those $$$$. Why the denomination has never placed a MAJOR emphasis on preparing for eventual retirement has never made sense to me.
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4/18/22 3:17 pm


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Post Cojak
Wife and I decided to visit the BIG REVIVAL in Northern Florida a few years ago, AOG I think. The crowd was so large we decided to visit the local COG before retuning home.. A very senior minister was the pastor. This is fact. About the middle of his sermon he said he must go to the Bathroom, he tapped his wife and she continued his line of thought until he returned and took over. I have never before nor since witnessed that. Of course we were one time attendees so I have no idea how long he continued the ministry there.

Since reaching the very senior age myself, I do understand the urgent toilet calls. Wink Embarassed

And yes I think one can continue too long at certain jobs or callings...
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4/18/22 3:34 pm


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Post Some thoughts.... Aaron Scott
I think most pastors want a definite word from God about when to retire. We want to KNOW that it's a God thing.

That rarely happens. Instead, probably about the best you can expect is a feeling of peace about retiring. Some people do get a definite word. Others get the general feeling that the Lord is not opposed, etc.

But I think most receive other "signs." My dad pastored two churches before retiring. When I asked him about how he knew it was time to move on from the first church--which was just an exceptional church, so much so that just about everyone who attended there still holds it as the best church they've ever known (e.g., spiritual, loving, very much a family, etc.)--he said that he felt the "burden" for the church begin to lift.

I don't know if I am reading him right, but I think he meant that the drive he had to preach, visit, build, etc. began to become reduced. And so, after around 25 years of pastoring there, he resigned and took another church (even though he and the church broke down in tears when he announced it).

Then, after pastoring his next church for nine years, he retired. One of his great concerns was that he knew pastors who had resigned, but had regretted it. Some no doubt sought to get back into a pastorate, but when you are of a certain age, you're not likely to get into a church that has good prospects. Why? Because most church realize that an older pastor may have only 2 or 3 years before retirement. And while they may not want someone who is a brand-new preacher, they typically want someone young enough to exhibit vibrancy and energy.

Back in the day, a pastor who retired could expect to have plenty of opportunities to evangelize around. Today, with evangelism nearly dead for American Churches of God, there's not much opportunity in that direction. My dad, now 82, gets to preach once or twice a month (about the amount he feels comfortable with), but as his circle of pastors and friends age out and pass away, those opportunities come more rarely.

So he was very concerned. He spoke with me about matters and I told him that I believe that there are signs such as health, family preferences, and the such that can give us insight. This was my dad who had ALWAYS been the one with the answers...and now, because his identify was so wrapped up in ministry (he had been a full-time evangelist, later full-time pastor, for roughly 44 years), and he was the real deal--this was not a job for him, but a calling.

At some point, he felt the release. He did not necessarily have a clear word from the Lord, but he had done all he could to acknowledge the Lord and, had he felt a check in his spirit, he would not have proceeded in that same direction.

Thankfully, he was able to retire in decent health and with the love and esteem of both the church he was pastoring...and the many folks who drove several hundred miles from the previous church he pastored.

A number of times, he had told me that he has not at all regretted retiring. And that was the thing that weighed most heavily on him. He did not want to wind up in the sad situation of some of his dear friends who had retired...only to wish they had not done so.

I will add that from the time he began preaching, without exception, every single place he has lived has been better than the one before. When I was born, we lived in a small travel trailer that his pastor rented to us off of Broomfield Road in Cleveland. Later, we moved to a full-size mobile home. Later, we were given the opportunity to rent a fully-furnished home while he evangelized (which enabled him to move our family to Florida)--and this home was rented to him by a man who had been in the revival he was holding. Beautiful home. Beautiful neighborhood. Beautiful church friends, etc.

Then, when he started pastoring, we moved into a 2-year-old parsonage. That was not the typical way that an evangelist goes into pastoring. They often start at older, lesser churches, but this was a 2-year-old church and parsonage.

Then, upon retiring, God helped him buy a home that was being moved. He moved it to a lot in Cleveland, had it bricked and so forth, and it was just a wonderful home for them.

Then, at some point, they wanted to move back to Florida to be closer to the us kids. My mother and dad had moved back to Cleveland to be close to his younger brother, who died of cancer in 2006. They remained in Cleveland (traveling to Florida regularly to see us, preach, and go to camp meeting), but did not move back for some time.

My dear, widowed aunt, who was as close to the family as any of our blood kin, remained unmarried for, I think, around 10 or more years. Though very attractive and an incredible cook and housekeeper, she just didn't get into dating. But meanwhile, down in Florida, my sister knew a widower who went to her church. When she told him about our aunt, he was immediately interested. He was retired from both the Navy and the Department of Corrections and is about the nicest guy you could hope to meet.

He began making trip after trip up to Tennessee to see my aunt. After two or three years of so, she finally fell in love and they were married. HOWEVER, she had made it clear that she did not want to leave Cleveland (the rest of the family is up there). He was fine with that. But what to do with his beautiful home in the nicest neighborhood in Macclenny, Florida? Hey, how about my mom and dad living there and keeping it up, while he and my aunt lived in Tennessee?

And this is the nicest house of all the houses they have lived in. And it was because God worked some things out with some very generous and kind folks. My aunt and new uncle come down two or three times a year and visit, for which a bedroom is always set aside for them.

God is good.

All of that to tell you that if a pastor does not feel any drawback from the Lord (after taking time to truly seek him about the matter), THEN THEY SHOULD PROCEED IN FAITH! It didn't matter what way Lot had chosen--in fact, he could have chosen BOTH ways, but God would have still poured out His blessings on Abraham!

He will do the same for a faithful pastor who sincerely seeks to follow the Lord's guidance.
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4/18/22 7:58 pm


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Post Re: Some thoughts.... Cojak
Aaron Scott wrote:
I think most pastors want a definite word from God about when to retire. We want to KNOW that it's a God thing

...........

He will do the same for a faithful pastor who sincerely seeks to follow the Lord's guidance.


I enjoyed that entry. I do not know your dad, but he sure sounds familiar.

I went to a seminar on retiring once and didn't believe much of it. The leader said it is a lot like going to your own funeral, if you are not prepared.

Today you are responsible for others and yourself. Tomorrow it will be just you and your family!
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4/18/22 9:03 pm


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Post Cojak--amen! Aaron Scott
Cojak, from what I've read of your father, I'd say he and my dad would be kindred souls. Hon. Dr. in Acts-celeratology
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4/18/22 9:28 pm


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Post Re: Cojak--amen! Cojak
Aaron Scott wrote:
Cojak, from what I've read of your father, I'd say he and my dad would be kindred souls.
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4/19/22 8:16 pm


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Post Quiet Wyatt
It seems every situation is different. I’ve known pastors who retired at 65 and did fine, while some I’ve known did the same and felt forgotten.

My grandfather, for all his adult life a bivocational pastor, had to retire in his early 70s after a heart attack disabled him. Though he still got to preach occasionally in the church he had founded 40 years earlier, he still expressed sadness and frustration with his physical condition limiting his life and ministry as it did in his final years in a mortal body.

My father, also primarily a bivo pastor, pastored until two weeks before he died at 65 of declining health, pneumonia and chronic lung disease. In his final years, he often preached wonderfully from a chair, due to his severe arthritis. He could have gotten medical disability, but felt compelled to keep preaching and pastoring til almost the day he died. I’m biased of course, but it seems to me he was a hero to keep pressing on as he did, and his congregation loved him for it. Nobody said or even remotely implied that he should retire medically. (Perhaps he should have, but what’s done is done of course).

My uncle felt it was time for him to retire in his late 60s, after 40 years of pastoring the same church. He has said he now wishes he wouldn’t have retired when he did, but he doesn’t want to try to pastor a different flock at this point. He still ‘preaches around’ in the region where he pastored, and has even had churches ask him to be their pastor, but I think he really just misses pastoring the church he was over for so long.

Thankfully, none of them ever suffered any noticeable cognitive decline. I have known some pastors who went through that, and it was very sad to watch.

While I realize there may be a good reason to retire, I try to imagine what the apostles and prophets in biblical times would have thought about the idea of retiring, and I can’t imagine the thought ever would have occurred to these holy men of old. Of course, none of them were what we would call “full-time” in the modern sense of ministry when considered as a career. It is remarkable to think that perhaps the greatest apostle in Scripture, Paul, was a bivocational minister. John’s ‘retirement’ was exile on the Isle of Patmos, at least until he could get back to the churches he oversaw.

If one feels released by the Lord from the role of senior pastor, then by all means one should follow that leading, of course.


Last edited by Quiet Wyatt on 4/20/22 8:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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4/20/22 3:55 pm


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Post skinnybishop
I don't think I'll ever stop ministering. But I hope to retire from the pastorate by age 65.

42 years of being on call 24-7-365 is enough.
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4/20/22 5:06 pm


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Post Cojak
Quiet Wyatt wrote:
It seems every situation is different. I’ve known pastors who retired at 65 and did fine, while some I’ve known did the same and felt forgotten.

.................

If one feels released by the Lord from the role of senior pastor, then by all means one should follow that leading, of course.


Great history and some very good thoughts for one to ponder. Thumb Up Thumb Up Thumb Up
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4/21/22 10:22 am


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