No Retirement for Shepherds

People have asked me: what’s the retirement age for our Shepherds?

There is no retirement age for Shepherds because shepherding is not a ministry but a lifestyle. Just as mothers and fathers never stop being mothers and fathers, Shepherds don’t retire from being spiritual parents. Some of our current Shepherds are 70 years old or older, above the typical retirement age in the corporate world.

When you want to make shepherding your lifestyle, you shouldn’t be too anxious about your ministry results. You need to learn to enjoy ministry. When your ministry is fruitful, enjoy your fruit. When it’s not, enjoy the fact that you’re being changed into Christ’s likeness as you patiently wait and pray.

All house churches have their ups and downs. Many house churches are stagnant for a long time then suddenly become active and multiply. Many house churches have a houseful of members but dwindle to only their shepherds when the rest of the members go back to Korea and they aren’t replaced. Shepherds shouldn’t be too excited when things are going well and shouldn’t be too discouraged when things are going poorly. Just try to focus on the Lord and be faithful to Him no matter the circumstances.

Shepherds’ roles can change through time, just as parents’ roles change as their children become older. For example, some of our Shepherds no longer oversee their own house churches but serve other shepherds as Chowon (Shepherds group) Leaders.

About 30 former Shepherds are now regular members of house churches. Unfortunately, many of them have become passive observers rather than active coworkers with their Shepherds. Perhaps they feel guilty about having quit as Shepherds. Ex-shepherds shouldn’t feel guilty about quitting; that’s only giving up a title, not the shepherding ministry itself. I want you to become active partners with your Shepherds and continue to work to reach nonbelievers and make them disciples of Jesus.

Someone once said that retiring doesn’t mean withdrawing from work but re-tiring, preparing for a new work. I agree. There is no retirement for the elderly in the kingdom of God. Only their ministries change. When I retire this August, I’m only retiring from being Senior Pastor of Seoul Baptist, not from ministry itself. There are many unglamorous small ministries that elderly people can do. I will find one of those and work for it. It’s foolish to give up opportunities to win heavenly rewards simply because you’re advanced in age.

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