I have begun a new season of life—retirement. I had started a blog a few years ago, but between the busyness of ministry and not being sure I had enough to say or enough worth saying, I abandoned blogging for long seasons. Now that I am “retired,” and settling into a new home, I don’t have the excuse of no time, and my colleagues and ministry partners tell me I should mentor, coach, and write. So I begin once again.
I really did not want to retire and I really do not intend to retire fully, but only “semi”-retire. There is no retirement from the call to ministry, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29)—just a change of pace and timing, a change of venue and emphasis, a time to refocus and reprioritize.
At the age of 12, I was called to the ministry in a tent revival meeting. Initially, it was a call to preach. The call to pastor came later. Actually, God was placing the call to preach in me as early as the fourth grade. When our church built a new auditorium, my Dad got the pulpit from the old basement meeting place. At the age of 10, I would stand on a stool behind the pulpit and pretend to preach. God placed the desire in my heart at a young age, and has never dissipated since then.
When I worked on the staff of Young Life, doing youth evangelism, many teens made a profession of faith in Christ but felt away from the faith. I began to have a passion to ground their faith deep in the Word of God to stay strong in their faith and began in-depth Bible studies and discipleship retreats. One of the staff members remarked, “You are not an evangelist; you are a teacher.” I felt deflated until I realized that my call to preach was also a call to teach. Then I realized that my call to preach goes hand-in-hand with my calling to teach. I am a preaching teacher and a teaching preacher.
My gifts and calling led to nearly 50 years of ministry in youth ministry, pastoral ministry, Christian school administration, higher education administration and teaching, and seminar and conference speaking.
In 2006 I was asked to serve part-time as an interim pastor in a struggling church an hour and a half away from the university. I loved the weekly preaching and the challenge of revitalizing a church, as well as the time for worship driving to and from the church. I knew then I was to be preaching and teaching in a church weekly. I have always loved having one foot planted in the academic arena and the other foot planted in pastoral ministry. This was reaffirmed several years ago in a prophetic conference when I was given the word that my ministry had two legs—academic and pastoral, apostolic and local.
So, as I enter “semi”-retirement, as the Lord provides opportunities, I will continue to preach and to teach, to mentor and consult, and to research and write. I had intended to engage in travel and conference ministry, but COVID has nixed all that for now. So while I wait on Him for speaking opportunities, I share with you through writing. This is The King’s Round Table, so I appreciate your feedback and discussion as I share.