The retirement age for deacons and pastors at our church is 67 – they retire at the end of the church calendar year after their 67th birthday. My birthday is October 15, 1944, so my retirement date will be August 31, 2012.
I asked our board of deacons to form a pastoral search committee in October this year and find my successor in 6 months. The head pastor of the Korean-speaking congregation represents both the Korean and English speaking congregations, so the candidate must be approved by the English speaking congregation as well. 2/3 of the members of the search committee will come from the Korean speaking congregation and 1/3 from the English speaking congregation.
In all likelihood, Pastor Soo Kwan Lee will become my successor, but in order to give the committee members the freedom to choose other candidates, I won’t be involved in the search process at all — I won’t even attend the committee meetings.
Assuming Pastor Lee succeeds me, however, let me share my retirement plans. After he’s voted in as my successor by our congregation, I want to give Pastor Lee freedom to travel for a year by minimizing my own travel and staying in Houston. I’d like to give him the opportunity to experience new things and plan his ministry as a senior pastor. He can take the year to enroll in classes at theological seminaries, visit other churches, attend seminars, conferences or special classes related to ministry, or tour mission fields or Biblical lands.
Immediately after I retire, I will sever all relationships with Seoul Baptist and its members for 6 months so that my presence doesn’t hamper my successor from solidifying his leadership as Senior Pastor. If this transition period is smooth, I will start to attend Sunday worship services at Seoul Baptist although I will still not be involved in any ministries. If I never feel that my presence makes the new pastor uncomfortable or hinders his ministry at the end of one year, I will return as a Seoul Baptist church member and submit to the pastor’s leadership and do ministry only as much as he asks me to do.
Many lame duck presidents have a hard time governing at the end of their tenures. But I plan to perform my duties as Senior Pastor until the last day before I retire. I won’t relinquish any responsibilities as Senior Pastor to my successor before I actually retire except for the hiring of church personnel. Some people may expect me to go soft as my retirement nears. Fat chance! I will continue praise or scold people who deserve it in exactly the same way as I have been doing.
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