In Retirement Keeping on Keeping On
News surfaced recently that two notable Christian voices are stepping down from their long-time positions, although both are shifting gears rather than calling it a retirement.
The first was the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson, who announced Oct. 1 that he was leaving as host after six decades.
But not to go sit in the shade. The 91-year-old broadcaster said he would be focusing on teaching at Regent University, the private Christian school he founded in 1977.
The week after this news, I read in the October issue of Christianity Today that longtime pastor Gary Chapman, 83, is retiring from Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Of course, as anyone who has attended a marriage conference in recent decades knows, Chapman’s real claim to fame is as the author of the best-selling The Five Love Languages.
Discussions of one’s love languages have been prominent at a number of conferences, seminars and church meetings I attended the past 30 years. Until I read CT’s story, I didn’t know that the book had topped 20 million copies in sales.
What I also found interesting is that Chapman plans to keep his office at the church and continue counseling people.
Remaining Active in Retirement
Earlier this year I worked on a press release for a group that advocates Christian seniors remain active in God’s work as long as they are alive rather than buy into the traditional American view of retirement.
That ideal appears in countless photos of gray-haired folks at leisure: enjoying themselves golfing, eating at bounteous buffets spread out beneath glittering chandeliers, or playing shuffleboard on spacious cruise ships.
I’ve never bought into such images. More than 30 years ago I worked on a story about a former pastor who cited a study done on folks past the age of 65. Of those who embraced the standard view of heading for the rocking chair and doing nothing, by age 75 eight of 10 of them were dead. But among those who continued to work or who stayed active in volunteer service, by 75 eight of 10 of them were still alive.
I decided then that I would choose to be in the latter group. It’s why I’m still working at 70 and decided to wait until this year to draw full Social Security benefits.
When a friend who is a stockbroker and investment advisor suggested I start taking payments at 66, he said, “The government’s counting on you not making it to age 78.”
“Well, I do plan on making it,” I replied.
Another figure I can cite here is veteran author Cec Murphey, ghostwriter of Dr. Ben Carson’s memoir, Gifted Hands and Don Piper’s bestseller, 90 Minutes in Heaven.
Now 88, Cec didn’t hang it up until a few years ago. He still sends out a monthly newsletter with personal reflections and news about his various activities.
When I profiled him once for a Christian magazine, he recalled the grandson who quipped, “When I die, I’m going to leave everything to Grandpa.”
Now, anyone who reaches this stage of life will admit they have to slow down. I no longer work as many hours as I used to because I don’t have the stamina, nor the desire.
Still, I appreciate something Gary Chapman espoused in CT’s profile, related to the epitaph he read on legendary missionary Lottie Moon’s grave: “Faithful unto death.” Said Chapman, “God, that is what I want. To be faithful unto death.”