On Sunday morning, from a pulpit I have been teaching from for over 16 years, I told the congregation that I was leaving the pastorate and moving out of state. Needless to say, most of them were very surprised as I am sure are many of you. I assured the congregation, and I want to assure everyone, that this is a very good thing!
The most obvious question is “Why?”
Next month I will be celebrating my 65th birthday and with the years passing so quickly I have had a growing sense of urgency to redeem my remaining years, making the best use of my time. The days in which we live are evil. I believe that this is the direction in which the Lord is leading us.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15–17 (ESV)
The days of ‘diminishing returns’ are upon me. This is to say that the number of years I have left on this earth are far less than those which I have already lived. In light of that, my greatest desire is to be used as effectively as possible in the proclamation of the gospel, the joyful message from God that leads the lost to salvation. I believe that this will be best accomplished by being a regular member of a church and back in the working world.
Jack Nicklaus, my childhood hero (when an aspiring young golfer) said, towards the end of his career, that when he could no longer compete as he once did he would put away the clubs. I have no intention of putting away the clubs; far from it, I am just letting the Lord change up my game strategy a bit, in order that I might finish strong, ‘fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith’ (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Jenny and I are looking forward to being a regular part of a congregation, sitting (together) in the seats of a good gospel centered church and supporting the senior pastor and eldership in shepherding the flock. I am especially looking forward to being on the (day to day) front lines with people in the workplace, being a light for Christ, and taking every opportunity to share the gospel through every open door. I know the Lord desires to open many.
Most all of us have seen the movie White Christmas. Poor General Waverly; retired, invested his money in a lodge in Vermont, trying to re-enlist in an army that didn’t need him anymore. Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) decides to cheer the old general up and appealed to Waverly’s old regiment (via a television announcement) by singing the song What Can You Do With A General?
What can you do with a general, When he stops being a general?Oh, what can you do with a general who retires?
I was a Christian long before I was a pastor and there was a time when being a pastor defined me, sometimes in an unhealthy way. Not so anymore. While there was a season, a most enjoyable season, where my vocation was as a pastor, I was first a Christian. I was purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ to become a Christian, one of his followers, and there is nothing that would ever or could ever change that.
You may stop being a general and you may stop being a pastor, but you you never stop being a Christian. I have so many fond memories of the pastorate and there is much I will miss about it. One of those being the platform I have had to preach the word of God each and every Sunday. However the good news is that every Christian has a platform and while we may not be generals or pastors, we are all called to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ, seeking to please the one who enlisted us (2 Timothy 2:1-4).
To be continued…