First of all, I’m not announcing my retirement. And yet because of yesterday’s post and other ponderings, I need to do what I ask others to do. I’m thinking about what I would love to do whenever I actually retire.
- Cuddle with babies in the NICU. I’ve taken four units of Clinical Pastoral Education. I love babies, even when they are sick. I would do this all day if given the opportunity.
- Volunteer in a museum. This is one of my favorites.
- Create a Queen Latifah-esque role as The Pastoral Equalizer.*
*God is God and I am not. Also this.
Queen Latifah plays “The Equalizer” on television – an unlikely role that serves as a guilty pleasure on Sunday nights after busy weekends. She plays a former agent of some kind who helps those who cannot go to the police. There are computers.
I would like to have this position, only for pastoral accountability moments like these:
- Your pastor has lost a child after a long illness and the elders are ready for him to “snap out of it” and get back to work. I show up at the next Session meetings and remind them that their pastor is a human being. I might express some anger.
- A wife and the mom of three dies suddenly and her husband (a college professor) is dating one of his students within a week. I show up at his door step wearing my collar and I lean in a little bit and remind him that his children need therapy and love, and a dad who is not dating his students. And if I hear that she is serving breakfast to those children before school even once in the next 12 months, I will be back yelling “Get behind me, Satan” before his second cup of coffee. It won’t be pretty.
- A congregation with a million dollars in endowment loves their cemetery more than they love Jesus to the point that they are confused about what it means to make disciples of all nations. They have conflated Christianity with Ancestor Worship (aka Taoism) which is by definition: “a religious practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, that the spirits of deceased ancestors will look after the family, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living.” Source. Yeah, we don’t do that in Church. I would be happy to show up at Session with food offerings and incense for everybody and then remind them that this is not a thing for followers of Jesus.
This Pastoral Equalizer Gig would be a continuation of what I have been doing in my non-retired state, only post-retirement it could involve more props and perhaps a cape.
I look forward to whatever comes after my “working years” and I encourage my colleagues – even the 20-somethings – to ponder what your post-retirement might look like. Living until retirement would be an enormous gift. We must plan to use it well.
Image of the gifted entertainer actor Dana Elaine Owens, also known as Queen Latifah.