Rod’s Ramblings

Thoughts on Retirement

For those who may not yet have heard; Parkview has hired a man to succeed me as senior minister upon my retirement at the end of the year.  The vote was overwhelming favorable and I am in complete agreement with it. Our new minister (he will be my minister too) won't be here until the first of November, so I'll wait until next month to introduce him.  In the meantime, I recently read some comments from Gary Weedman, retiring president (after 11 years) of Johnson University. His words struck a chord with me. I share an abbreviated version with you:

"Recently I was chatting with a friend who asked, 'Are you ready for retirement?'  I replied, 'When I retire, I'll know what I'm going to retire to as well as what I'm going to retire from.  But I don't.'

"She said, 'Of all the things that have happened at Johnson the last eleven years, how many did you actually plan for?'  I thought and said, 'Well, three or four.'

"'How many did you not initially plan for?' she continued.

"'Oh, ten or twelve or fourteen.'

"'So you're worried now about not having a plan?' she asked.  'You don't think God can keep up his winning record?'

She was preaching a sermon I needed to hear.  As God has done throughout history, he takes imperfect people and uses the contingencies of their lives, even the mistakes of their lives, and makes of them something to extend the kingdom of God among all nations. ...

"...I confess I don't always see God's Spirit moving right away.  Some people have an overwhelming sense of his presence, and they respond immediately.  But I see God's Spirit in the rearview mirror, bringing into focus how God has worked in past events in ways not seen at the time.

...  "The first sermon I preached at Johnson 11 years ago, with apologies to Kenny Rogers, was called 'Know When to Hold 'em and Know When to Fold 'em.'  I described the challenge of the journey forward and the tension between knowing when to hold on to the past and knowing when to change for the future based on the values of the past.  As I close my presidency, I affirm this tension still exists. But there's something not quite right about Rogers' song that i didn't see earlier--it assumes we humans should know more than we have a capacity to know.  At the end of the day, we don't always know when to hold and when to fold. But we can learn to see his Spirit in the rearview mirror.

"I am still not completely certain what I am going to retire to, but I'm not concerned.  Instead, I am confident God will do what he has done many times in my life... Through his Holy Spirit he will work in today's events, and some of it will only be understood in retrospect.  I anticipate seeing how God continues to ...accomplish his purposes, and i can't wait to 'look back' and reflect on his faithfulness."

Well said, Mr. Weedman.

Rodney Brown, Minister


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