Retirement – Insights from Scripture

Someone recently said to me; “Now that you are retiring, you can choose to do only what you like doing”. This may be reasonably true of a retiring businessman, but is it true for a past- pastor?

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When I first started giving serious thought to how I would use my time in 2015 and beyond I found it surprisingly difficult (and still do) to decide what it was that would give me ongoing pleasure and purpose. So I thought some more and consulted the scriptures. Three questions emerged that needed to be answered in the following priority order.

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First, “What do you want me to do Lord?” This is a question of ‘calling’. Christian ministers often speak of being called into their particular area of ministry. Whenever an aspirant pastor or preacher approaches me for advice I invariably probe their sense of calling. I don’t believe that anyone should even consider becoming a preacher or a pastor unless they have a deep and confirmed belief that God has called them into that particular ministry. I am sure that this also applies to other types of Christian ministry.

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Now, it is possible that a calling to a particular ministry area is only for a season and that retirement may well mark the end of that phase of Christian endeavour. But even if this is so, we surely need to check back with the one who called us, and earnestly seek His will for the future. Jesus said; “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) and that applies at all times and irrespective of age.

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The second question I needed to ask was; “What is in the best interests of the church?”, and by ‘church’ I mean both local and ‘larger’. Paul wrote that ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’ (Ephesians 5:25), and later he urged the Ephesian elders to ‘be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood’ (Acts 20:28). The church is IMPORTANT and if I profess to love and serve Jesus, its head, then I must put the interests of the church high on my priority list.

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Now, once we respond to these two questions, the third, ‘what do I want to do?’ issue is a lot easier to deal with. Paul writes in Philippians 2:13 that ‘it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose’. So, I can trust the Holy Spirit to instil in me a will to do what He has called me to do. On the other side of this decision-coin is the wonderful affirmation of Psalm 21:2, which reads, ‘You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips’.

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My understanding of the process is that if I seek first to do what I truly believe God has called me to do, and in doing this attempt to serve the best interests of the church, then I will indeed be aided by the Holy Spirit and will find satisfaction and purpose in my endeavours.

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I hope this three-part series of posts on pastoral retirement has been interesting to most and helpful for some. I will now move on to other matters… watch this space.

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Christopher Peppler

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2 thoughts on “Retirement – Insights from Scripture”

  1. Thanks Chris. It applies to me in that I dont have children at home anymore. I needed to redefine who I am in Christ and what He wants me to do.

  2. Thanks, I have not read the other two posts as I reply to this blog, I will. An interesting topic especially with longevity becoming a reality. From what I understand you to say Chris is that the Universal Purpose of a Christian will always be the same i.e. Love God , love and serve others and spread the gospel, but the Unique Purpose changes. i.e. vocation etc

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.