At 83 years of age, I am still working part time for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. I’m often asked, “When are you going to retire?” Or I’m asked, “ How long are you going to work?” Just a few Sundays ago I was asked this question in my Sunday School class.
The truth is that in 2003, I retired officially as the associate executive director of the ABSC. In January 2004, I began working part time on the Leadership and Worship Team. I worked there until 2013 when Dr. Tucker asked me to come back to the Executive Office to serve in various capacities. I’m still there!
As I have thought about these questions, along with others, I have come to some conclusions about serving God. Please remember that these are my conclusions. Your life will certainly be different as God leads you to do His will.
One of the things that has challenged me to stay the course is what T.W. Hunt said to me one day. We were talking about being old and still serving God. He said, in essence, that many of the great leaders in the Bible were old people. That perked my interest and I begin looking and reading God’s Word to study some of His great leaders.
Here is what I found. Moses was 80 years old when God called him to lead the people of Israel out of slavery. Joshua was 110 years old when he died after leading the people of Israel to conquer the Promised Land. Caleb was 85 years old when he went to Joshua and said, “Here I am today, eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out…..Now give me this hill country” (Joshua 14: 10b-12a). These and other examples motivated me to continue serving God as I grew older.
Secondly, in response to answering these questions, I found myself going back to the time I was called to vocational ministry. God called me to serve Him, and I didn’t sense any time limitation in that call. I assume that if God wants to release me from that call, He will let me know. Thus far, I have no other directions from Him except to serve faithfully.
In the third place, I really appreciate the opportunity to help churches and church leaders. After I officially retired in December 2003, I began working on the old Leadership and Worship Team in January 2004. One of my assignments related to helping churches during the interim time of pastors.
Part of that ministry involved being trained in the Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM). Then, I was trained to be the coordinator of IIM in Arkansas. I was involved in leading conferences for those interested in traditional interims and those interested in becoming an intentional interim pastor. I was able to lead seven churches through the IIM and two churches in traditional interim ministry.
These opportunities blessed me tremendously as I was able to help these churches and church leaders as they sought to do God’s will during the interim time as well as preparing for the next pastor. In addition to interim ministry, I was called on to help churches in committee work, revision of church constitutions and bylaws, personnel management and much more. God was so good to give me all these opportunities. The ABSC also was very good to me in allowing me to serve part-time as an employee.
In addition, God has blessed me with reasonably good health. This allowed me to serve these many years. Many years ago, I learned that if I would expect to have a long life, I must take care of myself physically. This I have tried to do.
In the fourth place, I want to be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:7 NIV). I certainly don’t think I have done as well as Paul, but his words have been a challenge to me for a long time. Again, I would like to say like Paul, “Not that I have obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…..I press on toward the goal….” (Phil. 3:12, 14).
To sum it all up, I will continue to serve Him as long as I am able, and God gives me opportunities to serve Him. My goal is “to stay the course.”