Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ah (or Oh!) Retirement

Being old enough to get a check from Obama and having been at my present church long enough, I joined the ranks of the retired effective about 9 pm this past Sunday. This means that for the first time in three decades, I do not have any regular preaching responsibilities nor any group of people for whom I have pastoral responsibilities.

While this may change down the road a bit, it does feel a bit different.

Resigning a church without going to another one makes for some interesting emotions, especially since I have always moved at least 100 miles from one church to another (as they say, so you can stay one jump ahead of the pursuing sheriff) which meant that I could not easily maintain pastoral relationships even if I desired.

I've had predecessors who could do what I cannot and will not do, pastor three churches at the same time: the one they're at, the one they just left, and the one they desire to have in the future. I'll do just one at a time, thank you.

I suppose I'm like most pastors and always look at the calendar by Sundays, since that is the biggie for the brethren. No longer, in a sense.

I don't know where I will go to church this coming Sunday, an odd feeling, since all of the churches I served have expected me to be present on Sundays. Not this Sunday, though we will go somewhere.

This Sunday I will ride to church with my wife. I could probably count the times I have done that in the past 30 years on my fingers. Maybe she could chauffeur me.

I think I'll shoot for the back pew although I've been sternly warned by the party mentioned above not to cross my arms and smugly look at the preacher as if to say, "Let's see what you've got, hotshot."

We will see.


Jon L. Estes said...

Congrats on your new life. I don't know if I ever will be that brave. I'm so insecure that I will be afraid I won't make it if I retire.

Oh, by the way William, that was me you offered to make contact with you.

One more thing. I didn't know you were that old. I still have at least a decade or more before I even think of such a move out of vocational ministry life. If I can work up to the end, maybe I won't need a retirement check.

Tim Dahl said...


Let me be one of the firsts to invite you to fill a pulpit! If there is any reason for you to come to Fort Worth, please feel free to have a sermon prepared. It would be great to listen to you as you preach from the pulpit if FBC Lake Worth. Granted, you can come and sit on the back pew as well. I'm happy either way!


Anonymous said...

I'm a younger pastor (well, 35... so I guess I'm closing in on middle age?) and I love older, retired pastors. I've always wanted men who have been there and done that around me so I can learn from their wisdom and experience. Thankfully, in the two churches I've been privileged to pastor, I've had older, veteran pastors around. These men always prayed for me and encouraged me. I never felt threatened by them because I never once questioned their motivation. I praise God for them.

For what it's worth, I hope in your retirement you a church with a younger pastor or maybe even several churches with younger pastors who would benefit from your gentle and wise counsel.

Anonymous said...


We have never met but I read your blog site regularly through sbcvoices and I have always enjoyed what you have to say. I hope you continue writing. I pray God gives you many avenues of ministry in the years ahead.

Bill Pfister
Taylors, SC

William Thornton said...

Tim, thanks, though I'm not sure what would take me to Ft. Worth...maybe a mission trip ;)

Jon, yeah I'm that old. Thanks for the reminder. I had it worked out with GuideStone to retire two years after I die but my wife told me to reassess my schedule.

Bill, thanks. I served two wonderful churches in SC for a total of 15 years, one not too far from you in Union Co.

Anon, 35 isn't even in the neighborhood of middle age.

Anonymous said...


I want to add my "congrats" to this milestone in your life and ministry. I have enjoyed your blogging and hope that remains a part of your future.

Maybe you can write a book: The Purpose Driven Plodder ... or something to that effect. Many blessings on the new roads into the future. I'm not that far behind ... so write about some "retirement tips" from time to time.

Blessings! Ron Hale

Lee said...

Congratulations on your retirement. But of course, for Baptist preachers, retirement usually just means moving from one career to another. Hope the blog and your presence at Baptistlife.com continues, especially now that you will have so much more "free time,"

foxofbama said...

William: I have wished you godspeed at the place where we first met; baplife.com
I cannot improve on what I said there in my Thanksgiving salutation.
Haruo joins me there in best wishes.

David R. Brumbelow said...

Congratulations on your retirement.

My mother, a veteran pastor’s wife, says one thing she enjoyed about retirement was getting to sit next to her husband during the Worship Service. At least the times when he wasn’t interim or supplying the pulpit.

From what I hear, keep busy and you’ll love retirement. I pray God’s blessings on you and your family in the days ahead.
David R. Brumbelow

PS - Send me your mailing address; I've got a retirement gift.