My bank account showed that my very first pension check was there. I was officially retired. It was the real deal. No turning back. It was exciting. It was scary. After the dust settled from the gag gifts and veiled references to the “Honey Do” lists, I faced the question, “What’s next?”
A few days after retirement, my wife and I were sitting on the patio having dinner. She asked, “Hon, what is your day like tomorrow?” Immediately I said, “Well, at 8:30 I am going to the gym…..then I paused, and paused, my voice trailing off. She burst out laughing. I had nothing else on the calendar. Talk about reality check. For me and my tomorrow, after my one hour at the gym, there was nothing-nothing except just about anything I wanted to do. That’s when I began to ponder God the retirement gift God has given me and to most retirees.
It dawned on me that during my vocation as a pastor, much of my time had been automatically reserved for the daily tasks of pastoring. They were like presets-Sunday, 11am Worship; fourth Tuesday, 7pm, Board Meeting, and so on. The optional stuff was plugged in around them.
Now, except for doctor’s visits, trips to the gym, and a few household chores, I had time, discretionary time, lots of it, and choices. I now had more freedom to say “No” more than any other time of my life. I could start doing something, and stop. I could explore new things. It was exciting. It has also been the most dangerous time of my life.
My question is, “How can I glorify and honor God with my life without a schedule-a routine?” I no longer say, “I am pastor of…”. I now say “I am a retired pastor.” “A pastor who is retired?” Awkward.
This new territory is a graphic illustration that “who” I am is not defined by “what I do.” I’m retired, but I am still me.
So I have time and opportunities, or if you prefer, choices. Yet, nothing has changed. I don’t have more time. I don’t have a better quality of time. I don’t have less time. 60 seconds are still in a minute. 60 minutes still make an hour and so on. And yes, just as at any point of my life, and yours, I have no clue as to how much time I have left-if any. The danger is not to waste it.
So what is God’s great gift in retirement? Not more time, but more discretionary time.
As I live out what time I have, the challenge is to enjoy the gift of discretionary time, not and use it to God’s glory.
Consider the riveting words of Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”. Colossians 3:23-24 tells us that we are to do everything as if doing it for Christ. For me, this is the answer to the “what are you going to do?” question.
Now, I have to figure out how to number my days.. I’ll talk about that next time.
The Retired Guy Doing Retired Guy Things