By Dexter Brummitt
Ministers work a lifetime fulfilling the call God has placed on their lives. Some serve in full-time ministry positions and others in bi-vocational positions. But wherever God places us, we all go through different stages in life. When young we have strength and stamina that seems to renew readily. As we get older, we no longer “bounce back” like we once did. And, if we live, we all come to a time in life when we must slow our pace and adjust to the fact we’re getting older. That’s when we realize a retirement account has been a smart move. We must plan ahead so our retirement years can be comfortable and productive.
The Apostle Paul is a strong example of bi-vocational ministry. He was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3-4) but also had a significant pulpit and church-planting ministry. When it came to his “retirement years,” however, the apostle ended up in Rome writing from prison under the watchful eye of his guards.
Although willing to work wherever the Lord places us, most of us probably wish for a different kind of retirement than Paul. We know that with the Lord, everything will be fine. But most of us probably like to think of retirement as a time to relax a little while still being useful in the Lord’s work. In order to accomplish that, we need a plan to allow us the flexibility to do those things without creating a financial burden.
When we think about retirement many things come to mind. Things we’d like to do and things we won’t have to do any more. The problem comes in what we’ll be able to do. Things are expensive, even when you’re retired. Traveling is expensive, even when it is not luxurious. Time on the road, eating out, sightseeing, and even visiting churches or other ministries can eat away at a retirement budget quickly. Not everybody wants to retire from a full-time job or pastorate to become a Walmart greeter or grocery store bag boy. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)
Social Security or even a pension plan may not afford us enough to have a relaxed retirement with ministry opportunities. That’s why I started a retirement account with Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement. Even with a pension, the loss of church income can be devastating to the family budget of a bi-vocational pastor. A full-time pastor may identify the need for a Board of Retirement account easier than a bi-vocational pastor, but the need may be the same.
Both bi-vocational pastors and full-time pastors may end up with greater needs than planned due to declining health, unexpected expenses, or a number of other things that can go wrong. Our “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
God provides for us, both now and in our retirement years. And we ought never to stop ministering where God gives us opportunity. So, let’s not be stubborn. Let’s accept the help He has provided for a retirement that not only allows us to survive but also to be fruitful in ministry. Most folks regret it when they fail to plan ahead.
About the Writer: Dexter Brummitt was a bi-vocational Free Will Baptist pastor for more than 30 years. He currently pastors West Greene Free Will Baptist Church in Mosheim, Tennessee. Visit www.BoardofRetirement.com for more information on retirement planning and other financial resources.