Why Pastors and Ministry Leaders Have Difficulty Retiring

When I read a story on how difficult it is for writers, artists, and rock stars to retire, (May 20th in the U.K.’s Telegraph) by Critic Neil McCormick, I immediately thought of pastors and ministry leaders. Granted, they’re not famous writers or rock stars (at least most of them) but generally speaking, they don’t lead normal working lives. While they work very hard, they don’t have typical 8 to 5 jobs, don’t slave at a desk, can determine their own schedule, can be intensively creative, and are passionate about their work.  Not a bad life – which makes retirement quite difficult. Pastors and leaders – don’t be offended, but while your job can be very challenging, you’re not really retiring from a job you hate.

But back to McCormick’s post. Read the excerpt below and you’ll understand why pastors and ministry leaders (like novelist Philip Roth he’s writing about) have difficulty retiring.  Here’s the important section:

“Philip Roth has announced his retirement. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say he has reiterated his retirement. Two years after the publication of his 2010 novel Nemesis, Roth declared that it would be his last. Now it seems he has broken his self-imposed silence to affirm his self-imposed silence, giving a televised interview to insist that he is not going to give any more interviews, or appear on television. At 81, Roth is shuffling very slowly off the world’s stage, taking curtain calls. This is the showbiz way, in which retirement is a very flexible concept.

For most people, retirement involves giving up the day job to potter around doing stuff you always wanted to do. Like write, paint, perhaps pluck a musical instrument. But what if those very things are your occupation? It can be hard to take seriously pronouncements of retirement by artists, novelists, musicians, actors and other creative types. Perhaps because we have never taken seriously the idea that they had a proper job in the first place. These are people who make their living indulging in what everyone else considers leisure pursuits. What are they going to do with their spare time? Take up a hobby?”

So next time you get frustrated because a pastor or ministry leader won’t quietly step into the shadows, this will give you some insight.

What are the biggest reasons you’ve encountered that make church and ministry succession so challenging?

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2014 at 6:58 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Why Pastors and Ministry Leaders Have Difficulty Retiring”

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  1. I jokingly say I only work one day a week. I obviously don’t. I don’t see myself retiring for various reasons. One, I have no retirement to speak of which will sustain us. Two, I enjoy doing what I do and if I can still be productive (although maybe somewhat slower) why should I quit? Besides, my wife might get tired of me being at home or wanting to ride my bike (if I can still stay on one). :)

  2. Janet says:

    “It can be hard to take seriously pronouncements of retirement by artists, novelists, musicians, actors and other creative types. Perhaps because we have never taken seriously the idea that they had a proper job in the first place. These are people who make their living indulging in what everyone else considers leisure pursuits.”

    Bingo.

  3. maryhutchinson says:

    I agree. I love my “job”. Retiring is a weird concept to me. But then, I am the creative type. But to add another reason why too many pastors can’t retire is they have no money!! Sad, but true.

  4. BigBadWolf says:

    The problem with Pastors and the like retiring is that God never intended for the positions they hold to be permanent. The purpose of leadership is to duplicate /replace yourself, to raise up people and equip them to do what you do. But, the money and lifestyle that these positions afford them keep them from vacating them.

    What “church” did Paul, Peter or Barnabas oversee? (See Acts 13:2)

    The real problem is that God never intended for churches to be what they are. Churches in the 1st Century were always in a believers home. When a home became too small for the number attending the leader (by God’s direction), would appoint another willing soul to host one in their home. This is called multiplication! (See Acts 6:1-7).

    Nowadays any traveling a Pastor does is to raise money to keep the lights on, while they should be out planting and watering: 1 Cor 3:6

    I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

    KJV

  5. Sal says:

    Firstly, ministry leaders (and I’d image most leaders in general) cannot let go in part because their entire identity is wrapped up in their occupation. They’d have an identity crisis if their constituents weren’t there to continue to give them affirmation. It’s very hard to walk out of the spotlight.

    Secondly, they don’t believe anybody can do the job as well as they do, so they cannot pass the baton until death forces them to, and by then the damage to the organization has already been done.

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