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Retired Disciple


In retirement, many have more time to disciple others and invest in their spiritual growth.


Retired...But Still a Disciple

by Norma Jackson Goldman


No set date or time establishes the point at which a believer transitions from being discipled to being a disciple maker. The transition may be so subtle that the person involved actually makes no note of it. But maturation as a believer is a natural process—part of the life-long transformation of becoming more and more like our Savior, the process Scripture refers to as “sanctification.” There is no more beautiful picture than a person, redeemed by faith in Jesus’ work on the cross, who takes on more and more of the likeness of the Father.

God designed the process in the context of relationships on two levels. The first is our relationship with Him, a vertical relationship that focuses upward, acknowledging Him as the source of strength, the focus of worship, and the One who shapes the pattern of our lives. The second is relationships with those closest to us, our extended families and neighbors, our coworkers, community and our world—relationships changed as a consequence of our growing intimacy with God.

The first person to disciple me was my pastor, possible because the church where I came to faith in Christ was fairly small. He took me under his wing spiritually and taught me the foundational principles of Bible study, prayer, worship, giving, and serving. He did not use difficult theological terms (I don’t think I ever heard him use the word disciple) but spoke in practical, everyday terms I could understand and apply. He guided me into a Bible study with other teens, talked with me personally about giving and serving and modeled all these behaviors naturally, in easy to understand ways.

Thankfully, he believed the best way to learn was to practice (under his watchful eye), and he led me to believe that service is essential to faith in Christ. So, I practiced going to the hospital as he visited the sick. I practiced outreach as I helped him take a community census. I practiced prayer with a group of teens. And I practiced teaching with a group of nine-year old girls! Because of his investment, I fell in love with God’s Word and dedicated myself to learning as much as I could, as fast as I could. Simply put, he discipled me.

It would be virtually impossible to describe all the teachers and leaders who contributed to my experiences as a maturing disciple, but my pastors all had a profound influence on my spiritual growth and development. It would be hard to determine whether my understanding of the need to stand beside new believers and support their maturity came from personal Bible study or from the pulpit, but God used these experiences to impress upon me the urgency of building others in their faith.

In retirement, many have more time to do what they have been doing for years—time to disciple others and to invest in their spiritual growth. Is this your experience? Do you have more time to invest in young pastors—coaching, encouraging and strengthening their ministries through personal discussions and prayer.

For me, there is a great deal more time to mentor other women, those who were not so blessed with a strong biblical foundation. Disciple makers find tremendous joy and satisfaction in seeing other believers blossom and thrive because of their investment of time and prayer. As I participate in God’s plan for becoming more like Him, He repays every effort a hundred times over.


About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma J. Goldman enjoys a successful freelance writing career in her retirement. Learn more about the Board of Retirement at


©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists