Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Let's Retire "Retirement"

Just thinking out loud here. But I'm wondering if it isn't time to retire a few "Christian" terms.

  • "Pastor." That's a metaphor, not a title, in Eph. 4:11. You're an elder
  • "Reverend." Nope. That's reserved for the Lord (Psalm 111:9). 
  • "Master of Divinity." I have one and I have certainly NOT mastered divinity.
  • "Sanctuary." Your church building is just that. A building. God does not live there (John 4).
  • "Lay person." We are all ministers/clergy.
  • "Lay elder." An elder is an elder, whether he is paid or not.

Here's one more: "Retirement." Why in the world should Christians want to use this term? 

In his book Stepping Up, Dennis Rainey writes how he once met with 12 gray-headed executives, now retired, who had been highly successful leaders. They had been risk takers who had led big lives. For 45 minutes the men peppered him with questions. Why do I feel so unnecessary? Why are my adult children so distant from me? Why does our culture make me feel so emasculated? Why am I treated as though I have nothing more to give?

As Rainey looked into their pained expressions, he thought they resembled broken antiques, collecting dust in an attic. They seemed to be without purpose. Each longed to fill his nostrils again with the smoke of the battlefield. They didn't want to trade their swords in for a five iron and a golf cart. They felt that they were created for something far greater than falling asleep in their lounge chairs while watching Fox News. Rainey described them as "men robbed of their glory, no longer dreaming because of a complicity of forces that had cruelly swindled them out of their courage. These men had been left behind." 

Retirement. What a stupid word. What a stupid way to live life. Thank goodness, it doesn't have to be this way. But you have to work at it. Retire? Just don't go there. Don't ever go there. Press on. Regardless. If you're not careful, people will become a bother to you. If you're not vigilant, you will stop living. You will stop reading. You will stop doing. Life will become wearisome. You will feel left behind.

Let me encourage you to rid your vocabulary of the word "retirement" once and for all. Go against the tide. Resist the temptation to live a life robbed of its glory. Stay close to your family, even though they may be geographically distant. Enter their lives and allow them to enter yours. Your job as parent and grandparent never ends. Cultivate friendships. Stop letting difficult people drain you. Don't feel you have to answer every email you get. If you want to start exercising for fun, fitness, weight loss, or any other reason, do it. Almost everyone would prefer to be physically fit than not. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, "I'm so glad to be overweight. I love getting out of breath when I climb stairs." What's keeping you from achieving this goal of health and fitness? I'm pretty sure there's an activity out there that's both fun and will get you in good shape. When we're firing on all cylinders we have the greatest level of life quality and happiness. 

Today's workout. 

Awaken the champion that is within you. The most important thing is to train smart, be safe, and have fun. Remember that you can make adjustments down the road if need be. 

The main thing is not to quit on yourself. Even if you're no longer a knight on a white horse, that's no excuse for going through life as though it were one long funeral. Never forget that "It is the old trees who have all the beauty and grandeur" (Emerson).