“I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” Col. 2:1
After I had decided to retire from church ministry that has lasted close to twenty-five years, I suddenly came to realize that I didn’t change a bit as a person. I remain who and what I was and will be. The things I have been doing to serve the Lord, and to earn a living at the same time, do not define me as a person in any way. Even though I will lose my job as a minister of the gospel, I will nonetheless continue to keep my identity as a servant of God.
I won’t be preaching every Sunday anymore, so it will be strange for me to be sitting in a pew, listening to spiritual nourishment from other people. I have no idea how I will handle such a thing, since I have never been a good listener. Strange to say, listening is a far more daunting task for me than speaking. Yet it’s an important lesson I will have to learn.
“Will you continue to help if we cannot find a pastor in due time?” someone asked.
“Most likely not,” I replied. I guess it will take further self-scrutiny to find out the real reason behind my decision. I am sure my not wanting to continue to speak from the pulpit might be caused by the lack of positive response or feedback from the pews over the years. “It’s rather vindictive, really,” I said to my wife, feeling a little uneasy. Perhaps I was hoping the church would finally come to her senses and start to realize how much they have lost in my leaving. Isn’t my decision to retire a form of revenge, a sort of protest against whatever was opposing me within the church, real or imagined?
If this is truly reality, I may have to reevaluate my position.
“I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” Have I given up “contending for” the congregation I have come to know and love for so many years? Indeed, people have taken the news of my impending departure with resignation, indifference, sadness, or other sorts of emotion, yet the fact still remains: the decision I made feels so much like desertion, as if I have given up the fight for the Lord, and for the people whom I was serving.
Even so, what will take place is inevitable, for I have often thought no one in God’s church is indispensable or irreplaceable. My position will soon be replaced by someone far more capable and I will quickly be forgotten. What really matters to me is that I remain to be what I was and will be - a servant of God. My office title may be stripped away, yet my servanthood still remains. We should never be defined by our job titles; we are what we have been called to be.