As retired pastors, we have years of experience and wisdom to share with others. Take inventory of what you’ve learned. Don’t think for one moment your ministry is over. Some of your best years have just begun. You’re in new territory with seasoned wisdom ready to be delivered to those coming behind you.
Anyone who leaves a position he or she held for many years is bound to experience some nostalgia. Retired pastors can feel adrift with no measurable purpose, especially after years of being the person to whom so many looked for guidance and biblical truth. You may be longing for the place and significance you once had.
After having pastored for 47 years at the church my wife and I founded, I understand. I welcomed retirement, but it was also unknown.
What now? I wondered. Kay and I had moved from northern Virginia all the way to a suburb of Nashville. Would this new chapter be one of rest or work? The answer, it’s turned out, is both.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned as a retired pastor.
1. Retirement Gives the Gift of Time
Retired pastors need physical and emotional renewal. They need time to reflect, give thanks, and pray about what’s ahead.
But they also need time to enjoy their families. Perhaps you need time to serve your spouse. My wife, Kay, has sacrificed for me and our church over the years, and retirement has allowed us to enjoy one another in a different way than when life was back-to-back with ministry activities.
Surprisingly, Kay and I are doing more ministry together now in retirement than we were able to when I was pastoring full-time. If you have grown children or grandchildren, use this newly available time to invest in their lives as well. This is the season to put Deuteronomy 6:4–7 into action.
2. Retirement Is a Blessing, Not a Limitation
After you’ve rested and replenished, it’s time to think about what’s next. What surprised me is that getting back into the ministry saddle in a different capacity has been life-giving for me. That’s the stage I’m enjoying now at a church in Franklin, Tennessee.