Retiring From The Work Of The Church
Melvin Salal Rogers
If you have officially or unofficially retired from teaching, preaching, serving, visiting, praying, sharing, caring, giving – anything that is the work of the church (besides attending on Wednesdays, Sundays, and occasional gospel meetings, etc.) – please read on.
To Retire: “ to withdraw from one’s occupation, business, or office; stop working; to withdraw from one’s usual field of activity; to seclude one’s self.” These definitions can be found in The American Heritage College Dictionary (1993). Many in today’s congregations have chosen to “retire” or “withdraw” or “seclude” themselves from doing the work of the church. Elders, deacons, preachers, their wives, and countless older members have joined the elite group of “retirees” that our country seems to celebrate. The assumption is that since one has worked for years and years, a “rest” from work is not only desired but also “earned.” A false retirement type concept of elders is that they are part-time and need not be paid. Never does the Bible suggest that an elder is “part-time.” He has accepted a spiritual work that also deserves full financial compensation. If you pay the preacher, pay the elders (1 Timothy 5:17-18). Pay them enough not to have to work any other job. Is the eldership a “retirement” gift – a title a man gets because of “faithful” in attendance that requires little work? Financially, circumstances may allow one to retire from a secular occupation, but is that what one can do as a child of God concerning any of the work of the church? Is faithful attendance enough after years of service? Should the “work” be left to the younger generation for the most part? The answer is evident, but a look at a few scriptures will show what God’s answer is.
Who is exempt from the work of God? Not even YOU. Elders (whether the official elders or just older men and women) are expected to be available for good advice (1 Kings 12:6-7), even when not asked for it. Christians are expected to have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7-8) or to be faithful until death (Revelation 2:11). Older men and women have a great responsibility to act their age in the church (Titus 2:2-5), but many wriggle out of these grave and important responsibilities because of age instead of infirmities.
Who is worthy of respect? Why should the young rise before gray headed and honor the presence of an old man (Leviticus 19:32) if such refuses to do the work of God? Yes, respect must still be given because of age, but it is so much easier for young Christians to show proper respect if the old continue to serve in the church. Even Solomon understood that the silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31).
Who is expected to have a “right knowledge” of God? Take the time to read Psalm 92:12-15. The important phrase is, “they shall bear fruit in old age.” I used to think that meant seeing the fruits of your labor. Now, I think it also means your wisdom and experience can be passed on. Your example will be emulated by others. I look forward to being an older Christian, if that is God’s will. I hope to be a biblical elder someday. I want to be a fount of knowledge of God who helps those reach where I am, an advisor (I have many right now) to help younger Christians to avoid troubles and mature in Christ. I hope to be paid a full-time salary so that I may be an elder as described in the Bible. In that way, I look forward to being “old” in the faith so that I can do those things required by God of the older members of the body. God expects me to work and not “retire” from serving Him. Are you retired? -1 Oakwood Road, Fairmont, WV, 26554. 304-363-1239. firstname.lastname@example.org
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