We have a son and a nephew who are United Church ministers. Both are in their 30's, and both have strong gifts for ministry. The United Church is blessed to have these two serving congregations, albeit in different capacities. I appreciate their creativity and vigour.
We are an aging denomination and that includes our clergy. That includes me. The other day I looked at the obits in the United Church Observer magazine and realized that five of the six long-retired ministers who had been "promoted to glory" had served fewer years than my thirty-six. The other person had served 38 years. In other words, I've been at this a long time, longer than my father and father-in-law did, both of whom served in WW2. I'm something of an anomaly in that I have served all of those years in pastoral ministry, and always in very active congregations. I currently work with a group of people I enjoy. I feel blessed in that regard.
I am pondering retirement, although not immediately. I realize though that I would be foolish not to consider when this might be, and what will happen afterward. I am a Christian first, and a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ as an outcome of my faith. Who will I be as a Christian when I retire? How will I live out my discipleship when I no longer serve a congregation?
A recent CBC article Serial retirement - the boomer approach to leaving work: The abrupt end to a career is getting rarer as people seek flexible work before retiring was an interesting read for me. It suggests that the "here's the gold watch, see ya" retirement scenario has come and gone. Many are flexing retirement, sometimes sharing jobs. And 43% of 60-64 year-old retirees are re-employed within a year.
In a former congregation the lead minister's job in now shared by two half-timers. One wanted to reduce work, the other was my predecessor who eventually retired but has come back part-time.
When I retire I don't want to be in the way of younger and newer ministers who are seeking employment by working in a position they might fill. And I don't want to keep doing pastoral ministry because it is familiar and comfortable. Too many aging ministers just can't let go.
I'm considering what I might do and be as a fresh expression of who I am as a Christian.