I’m not going to lie… I am more than a little bit scared.
There is a date looming on my calendar that ties my stomach into the kind of knots only a Boy Scout could master.
What is the nature of this anxiety-producing date, you ask?
Is it a root canal? A colonoscopy? An IRS audit? A Kenny G concert?
Nope. None of the above.
June 30, 2019 is the date of my official, 100% retirement.
And it scares me pantsless. (Not literally, of course.)
To clarify… I OFFICIALLY retired from ministry in the United Methodist Church three years ago. But because I still had energy – along with a deep-seated fear of facing an empty calendar every day – I accepted a half-time appointment.
Since July 1, 2016 I have been the pastor of the Mound City and Blue Mound, Kansas United Methodist Churches. They are located just about an hour south of my home.
The people at Mound City and Blue Mound have been more than gracious in allowing Joan and I to serve as their clergy couple. They have been generous and forgiving in helping this confirmed city boy connect with his first rural pastorate.
But now the time has come to move on to that next chapter, and I am surprised to find myself more anxious about making THIS transition than the last one.
Questions such as: what am I supposed to DO all day? How often should I shave? How much Candy Crush is too much? What happens if Joan gets sick and tired of seeing me all the time? Am I going to turn into one of those people who take every little sniffle to the doctor’s office just to have something to do? Is reading a book in a big, comfy chair (and then falling asleep) really as much fun as it looks? When do black socks with sandals become acceptable? Will going out to a restaurant at 4:30 p.m. suddenly seem like normal behavior? How many blog posts a week are too many?
And the question of all questions: IS LEARNING TO PLAY GOLF A RETIREMENT REQUIREMENT?
Good Lord, I hope not.
OK… maybe I’m making some of those things up. But I am not making up the part about having no small bit of nervousness about entering full retirement.
You see, like many (most) other males, I have tied my identity a bit too closely to my work. Here is what I mean by that: if someone were to ask me who I am, I would likely respond by telling that person what I do.
The truth is; who I am is NOT what I do.
And yet, for those who fail to make that distinction, the disappearance of our WORK can often mean (in our minds) the disappearance of our WORTH.
I have preached and counseled about this very topic on numerous occasions. I have looked people in the eye and told them, “You are a person of INFINITE WORTH, no matter what else is going on in your life.”
I have opened my Bible and read Matthew 6:26 to them… reminding them, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
If anyone should be hip to this whole idea, shouldn’t it be ME?
Well, not to worry. It is only May 7. I’ve still got six weeks to figure this out. I’m sure something will percolate through my brain by then and I will finally be EXCITED and EAGER to retire.
In the meantime though, can anybody tell me what the Earlybird Special is at Denny’s today?