Malcolm Muggeridge, the late British journalist and satirist, wrote, “Few persons of action have been able to make a graceful exit at the appropriate time.” We’ve all watched athletes—past their prime—enter one more game, one more fight, one more match, one more race, or one more season. (It’s usually one more than they should have.) The more successful transitions have occurred when athletes move on to embrace a related aspect of their field that does not demand the same physical prowess. Many become sports broadcasters, coaches, spokespersons for athletic apparel, and more. They find a way to stay in their field of passion without the daily rigor of the sport. If Muggeridge is right, most avoid the timely, graceful exit and enter one more athletic event or season than they should…and then step away. The same aspect has been visible in the lives of politicians, business executives, construction workers, professors, and yes, even ministers.
The most frequently asked questions since the announcement of my retirement have been: 1) Why now? and 2) What are you going to do next? The answer to the first is simple—I want to be one of the rare individuals that makes a timely, graceful exit. I want the church to have positive ending to a good chapter of her history. I want to end on a high note so that I’m invited back occasionally to a retreat, a wedding, a homecoming, a funeral, a Sunday School class party, or just to sit in the pew with a friend. In general, I intuitively feel the transition is good for my health and the ongoing health of the church. Like all endings, it never feels good at the time, but I feel it is a good time. The answer to the second question is I don’t know, but I imagine I will find a way to stay in my field of passion without the daily rigor of the sport. I am not financially ready to retire, so some measure of work will have to be engaged. I have interest in sharing my gifts in a mission-oriented context. I have at least three books left in me—one under contract that I must write, one I need to write, and one I want to write. I have a couple of grandchildren and three children who would like a little more of my time. I’m guessing I will find a way to stay busy. I promise I will keep you posted. Until then, we have many important things to do at FBG before I retire,.so for today, it’s time to stop typing and get back in the game.