The Goal Of Retirement Is Not Retirement!
I (Derek Gibbs) am a classic post war baby boomer. I started life when rationing was still in place, had my formative years in the swinging sixties, benefitted from a good education, married at 21, started a family at 22, bought my own house in the 70’s, paid off my mortgage nine years ago, worked as a teacher for 26 years and for the church as an elder for 20. At 65 I had lots of empty bedrooms, had a reasonable pension and felt it time to step back from church leadership.
It was tempting to feel that it was time to have a rest and to settle for the 3 ‘G’s’ of retirement (golf, grandchildren and gardening). God, however, had other plans. I reckoned that as a reasonably fit retiree I had 15 years of energetic active life left in me; how was I going to spend that time? The Bible doesn’t say too much about retirement; few in the early church reached that age. However, it does say a lot about hospitality, prayer, relationships and financial support. So, if retirement looms or has arrived how do we respond? Here are some ideas that you can plan into your retirement:
1. Make a real effort to get to know those going church planting. Invite them round before they go, listen to their vision, share in their hopes, commit to praying for them, ask them to keep in touch. The first months and sometimes years can be lonely, challenging and costly – personal support can be so encouraging.
2. Use your flexibility to visit them, make a visit a part of a holiday. There is no substitute for a visit. Experiencing their new life, seeing their new environment, meeting their new friends and co-workers, getting a ‘feel’ for the task ahead of them.
3. Use your ‘empty nest’ home to provide accommodation for visitors from other nations. This is a great way to connect with those from different nations or cities. It stirs our faith, helps us to feel part of the vision to plant churches.
4. Support financially. This can be giving regularly or a ‘one off’ personal gift. Moving to a new city or country can be costly; let’s stand alongside them.
Relationships can change everything.
First with God – God has invested a huge amount in me and I haven’t been the quickest learner. But he has persevered and changed me so much over the years so when I asked the question – what next? He answered.
Second with people – Chris Taylor planted a church in The Hague eight years ago but on his regular UK visits he would often stay with us along with a variety of other leaders he brought with him or those with potential. When he found out I was stepping down, he rang me one morning in March of last year to ask if Jenny and I would consider moving out there for a few years to help. This was not what I had expected. Then God stepped in again with two prophetic words from people from two different nations, both of whom had no idea what was going on. All within the space of three days.
So here we are, renting a house in The Hague whilst back in the UK our house is rented out. We are getting stuck into life in a different culture, meeting people from many different nations – how did that happen?
This is our story, and everyone else’s will be different. However, when you make yourself available for God, who knows what may happen!
Source: New Ground