I have mentioned this before in this space, but I have a deep desire to “finish well” in whatever I do. Last month, I attended a “pre-retirement” seminar sponsored by our state Baptist convention. My retirement is not just around the corner, but this was advertised as an important event for all pastors “over the age of 50.”
Well, I qualified for that. And so I listened as the gentleman gave us advice on how to deal with our retirement accounts in the final years of active employment and how we could maximize our money so that it will live longer than we do. After that, he took time with many of us individually to look at our accounts.
It was really good to hear him say to me, “You should be in really good shape.”
But he also took a few minutes to remind us of things we all know and encourage us to “finish well.” He shared with us that studies show that less than 50 percent of all seminary graduates actually retire from any kind of ministry. Less than 50 percent of those who enter the ministry stay in the work until they retire.
There are a variety of reasons for that. Some grow weary in the work. Some decide they are simply not cut out for the ministry. Some have moral failures. But for whatever reason, they leave the ministry.
I’ve been a pastor for almost 33 years. I am certainly in the last half of my ministry, and that is highly optimistic. I am approaching the finish line.
So how can I finish well?
For me, the foundation was laid in the earliest days of my ministry. I was blessed to have older pastors who mentored and encouraged me and have prayed for me. They warned me of the pitfalls along the way and reminded me that the Lord would never forsake me.
It would be easy to say that I’m going to make it now, but I still want to be careful. There remains much work to do. I want to complete the race that God has given to me. How do you do that? One day at a time. One step at a time. One moment at a time. Don’t get ahead of God.
Wait on the Lord and follow him. Best advice I ever received. Best advice I can give. Wait on the Lord.