07
May
19

It’s Closing In!

Retirement coupleI’m not going to lie… I am more than a little bit scared.

There is a date looming on my calendar that ties my stomach into the kind of knots only a Boy Scout could master.

What is the nature of this anxiety-producing date, you ask?

Is it a root canal? A colonoscopy? An IRS audit? A Kenny G concert?

Nope. None of the above.

June 30, 2019, is the date of my official, 100% retirement.

And it scares me pantsless. (Not literally, of course.)

To clarify… I OFFICIALLY retired from ministry in the United Methodist Church three years ago. But because I still had energy – along with a deep-seated fear of facing an empty calendar every day – I accepted a half-time appointment.

Since July 1, 2016, I have been the pastor of the Mound City and Blue Mound, Kansas United Methodist Churches. They are located just about an hour south of my home.

The people at Mound City and Blue Mound have been more than gracious in allowing Joan and I to serve as their clergy couple. They have been generous and forgiving in helping this confirmed city boy connect with his first rural pastorate.

But now the time has come to move on to that next chapter, and I am surprised to find myself more anxious about making THIS transition than the last one.

Questions abound.

Questions such as: what am I supposed to DO all day? How often should I shave? How much Candy Crush is too much? What happens if Joan gets sick and tired of seeing me all the time? Am I going to turn into one of those people who take every little sniffle to the doctor’s office just to have something to do? Is reading a book in a big, comfy chair (and then falling asleep) really as much fun as it looks? When do black socks with sandals become acceptable? Will going out to a restaurant at 4:30 p.m. suddenly seem like normal behavior? How many blog posts a week are too many?

And the question of all questions: IS LEARNING TO PLAY GOLF A RETIREMENT REQUIREMENT?

Good Lord, I hope not.

OK… maybe I’m making some of those things up. But I am not making up the part about having no small bit of nervousness about entering full retirement.

You see, like many (most) other males, I have tied my identity a bit too close to my work. Here is what I mean by that: if someone were to ask me who I am, I would likely respond by telling that person what I do.

The truth is; who I am is NOT what I do.

And yet, for those who fail to make that distinction, the disappearance of our WORK can often mean (in our minds) the disappearance of our WORTH.

I have preached and counseled about this very topic on numerous occasions. I have looked people in the eye and told them, “You are a person of INFINITE WORTH, no matter what else is going on in your life.”

I have opened my Bible and read Matthew 6:26 to them… reminding them, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

If anyone should be hip to this whole idea, shouldn’t it be ME?

Well, not to worry. It is only May 7. I’ve still got six weeks to figure this out. I’m sure something will percolate through my brain by then and I will finally be EXCITED and EAGER to retire.

 

In the meantime though, can anybody tell me what the Earlybird Special is at Denny’s today?


9 Responses to “It’s Closing In!”


  1. 1 Jeanne Bill Casey
    May 8, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    NO….. say it isn’t so!!! TOTAL retirement? Actually, we are very happy for you. Now, you and Joan will be able to go anywhere, anytime, do what makes you smile, and enjoy each day. However, this means that we will have to get in gear in the next 6 weeks and come to Mound City to hear your Sunday message one last time.

    After the meetings, conferences, etc. of the UMC since the first of the year, we will be going back to being Presbyterians. We changed to the UMC after hearing you a couple Sunday mornings. You were the Pastor we had been seeking. But, I didn’t do my research…..I didn’t know the UMC’s staunch stand on the LGBTQ issue.

    Russell, I sincerely hope you will continue “Russellings of the Spirit”. I look forward to each one and so do the friends and family I forward them to. We all think you are a wonderful writer.

    We do hope to make it to Mound City, but if we don’t please know that we wish you and Joan the very best in retirement. It was our good fortune to have met the two of you.

    Fondly, Jeanne & Bill Casey

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • May 8, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      What a sweet, sweet message. Thank you so much. And yes, the United Methodist Church is experiencing the consequences of being a global body where most of the new membership resides in the most theologically conservative part of the world. I am not sure what the future holds for the UMC, but it is not a group that will be easy for people to affiliate with in the future. Please try to make it down to Mound City if you can. We would love to see you.​

  2. May 8, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    What should you do? Duh, keep writing awesome blog posts, Russ! (Plus, God may have a few other things in my mind. He’s big on that, whatchamacallit, “will” thing of His.)

  3. 5 Warren Molton
    May 10, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Another clever blog. If and when you move to Denver, you and Joan can spend a lot of time getting acquainted with the city and the region, with to Estes Park and over the Divide to Grand Lake. Bob Mann is the retired director with his wife of a great summer camp in the area, created by a former, I think Presbyterian minister, and I know you would enjoy that. So much to do and so little time. I know, you just needed a blog topic!

    Blessings,

    Warren

    PS: I turned 92 the day you wrote your blog. If I can you can.

    • May 10, 2019 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks and HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a true guiding light and inspiration in my life. You are a true beacon of spiritual depth and health to me, Warren.

      – Russell

      On Fri, May 10, 2019 at 9:59 AM Russellings of the Spirit wrote:

      >

  4. May 10, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks and HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a true guiding light and inspiration in my life. You are a true beacon of spiritual depth and health to me, Warren.

  5. May 20, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Retirement may be fruitful

  6. May 29, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    You will be fine. The retired people I know have far busier schedules than they had before retirement. I say, take it easy and enjoy life. You earned this. Now, you can do whatever you want with your time—while people like me look on with envy. 🤗


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