The second question people ask when they find out my retirement is only a month away is “Are you winding down?” The answer to that question is not complicated. It is an emphatic NO! Winding down implies that I have a choice in how I work. But God has called me to this task and I don’t know how to do anything except give it 100% as long as I am in it.
People’s crises and life events don’t wind down just because I am retiring. I still visit those who are in the hospital, pray with people before surgery, sit quietly beside those who are grieving. This week my list includes a person just diagnosed with cancer, a lunch with three people who are dreading the first anniversary of a spouse’s death, and a final confirmation class.
I still have meetings three nights a week and Bible Study one night a week. I still take hours to carefully prepare the very best sermon I can preach each week. There are still bulletins to format and newsletter articles to write. The church is working to get ready to greet their new pastoral family, and I am involved in those preparations. We are also planning events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the church next year and I can give ideas and help to structure the ideas of others even if I will not be here for the anniversary itself. Giving less than my best every day would not be fair to my congregation or to the pastor who will follow me.
I will not be winding down. I will be working as hard as I can to bring Christ to the people of my church for as long as I am the pastor of that church. I will run as hard as I can to the finish line until I pass the baton to my successor (midnight, June 30).