Friday, December 8, 2017

Reconsidering Retirement

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


"Jesus said, 'Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye but don't notice the log in your own eye?'
I may be wrong but I think a part of what Jesus was saying is speck-inspectors have such miserable
log-filled lives that they point out what's wrong with other people betraying some pejorative
pathology that deludes them into thinking they are somehow better than others when,
deep down, they know they are so miserably worse, pathetic, and decaying.  They
light fires in the backyards of others because they think it will distract people
from seeing how their houses are burning down.  Jesus called them
hypocrites because they mask the reality of their depravity."



    Retirement is anathema to me by call and desire.

    I've written about it before for my favorite ecclesiastical news website (scroll down for "Scratching the Surface of Retirement").

    Summarily, I haven't believed in retirement unless a person wants to quit because she/he doesn't like the job anymore, never should have taken the job in the first place, health issues prevent continuing, and there's enough money in the piggy bank to ride off into the sunset.

    Simply, if you like what you're doing and can still do it and don't have anything better in mind, why stop?

    Of course, I've also said I may be wrong on some or many or most things; and if they're pointed out by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, I will confess, repent, and ask forgiveness.

    All of the preceding came to mind when a seminary friend retired.

    While he is older than me, having served as a cop in California preceded by a stint as a longshoreman while I was still working on merit badges for the BSA, I was stunned by why he quit.

    He said he was getting cranky.

    Yeah, I've mentioned that as part of why a person may retire; but I'd never really considered that to be a prime reason for quitting until one of my two best friends in seminary confessed increasing crankiness as the cause to hand in the keys.

    As I think about it, I guess I'd follow his path if that pathology began to plague others because it was plaguing me.

    On the other hand, the closer that I get to Jesus, a slow-moving but determined journey, fewer things/people unnerve me as I'm increasingly overwhelmed by His love and experience the supernatural fruit of increasing intimacy (check out Galatians 5).

    But, yeah, if I become cranky more often not, noting everybody has bad days including moi, I'll quit.

    A few months ago, I was tested.

    A clergywoman from a non-Trinitarian religion made an appointment to see me and said, "I've been reading your materials for a long time and I've decided to tell you that I don't like your style or what you have to say."

    First reaction: "Wow!  I'm flattered that you even read what I write.  I guess I'm wrong.  Maybe some people actually do read what I write.  Yet, uh, I guess, uh, that you don't read what I write anymore because you don't like how I write and what I say when I write."

    Then she started to tell me that I'm too direct, candid, sometimes raw, and too blatantly Christian in what I write about.

    Private thoughts: "I'm not getting into a tinkling contest with a skunk...You're wearing perfume that could knock over a bull at 50 paces...Being that you don't write yet criticize how I write, Moody's retort to mainliners who didn't like the way that he did evangelism comes to mind: 'I prefer the way that I do it to the way that you don't do it!'...I'm not going to try to be rational with someone who's irrational because that would be illogical."

    BTW, I have a whole chapter on that last private thought in my book Fifteen Secrets pero nobody knows because nobody's read it.

    Second reaction: "Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  I'm sorry if how I write and what I write about offends you; so I guess the only thing that makes sense is for you to join most people who don't read what I write."

    She insisted with discomforting passion, "But I want to show you how you can make me like you."

    Private thoughts: "I live for it...Are you hitting on me or what?...Wild horses dragging me by the tongue on a desert island after ten years away from my wife wouldn't interest me in you...Do you really think I'm going to renounce Jesus for your favor(s}?"

    I paid for the coffee.


    She thanked me and asked if we could get together again because she really wanted to convince me.

    I wasn't sure what she meant; so I didn't answer, didn't offer a kiss on the cheek which I usually do because I was getting weird vibes even though this was before sexual harassment displaced North Korea from the headlines, excused myself for a potty break, and didn't come out for a long time in hopes that she'd leave.

    She did.

    I had a Pentecostal moment.

    While I'm still trying to figure out what I did wrong and right in that exchange, I never got cranky; recalling how some nuns in Maryland taught this lesson to me: "If you're right, you don't need to argue.  If you're wrong, you can't afford to argue."

    In short, retirement still ain't on my radar.

    I know that's disappointing to folks who hate me for good, bad, and otherwise.

    Really, I don't think I'll ever get too cranky again because I'm really praying and trying to get closer to Jesus and people who are getting closer to Jesus are increasingly filled, as Oswald Chambers observed, with strong calm sanity.

    With no apologies to the mean old hater who left our church because I'm too "psyched" for life and ministry or the clergywoman from another religion who was trying to convince me to whatever she had in mind, I'm just becoming happier and happier and happier and...



Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!




Scratching the Surface



(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Considering Retirement)

Should you retire?


As you pray, reflect, and consult about it, you may want to factor some things into your decision.

Biblical Principles of Work/Vocation/Call

There are no explicit guidelines for retirement in the Bible.

I don’t know why for sure.

However, I can speculate.

Retirement is a recent luxury of wealthy civilizations: work hard, save up, quit/retire, and then, uh, do whatever you’d rather do because you don’t really like what you’re doing or aren’t able to do it anymore.

If a person is doing what God has called her or him to do and remains able regardless of age, she or he is happy doing what God has called her or him to do and retirement is not on the radar.

Really, if you’re doing a good job and like doing it and don’t have anything better to do by God’s providence and gifting, why in the name of anything but heaven would you quit/retire?

Assuming God breathed knowledge and wisdom into Paul, he said, “To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Succinctly, our work/vocation/call honors God by helping people; or as Jesus emphasized, “As you do it for them, you do it for Me.”

Paul also wrote, “We each have different work to do.  We belong to each other; and each needs all of the others.” 

It’s axiomatic: the whole is equal to the sum of its parts.  God has made us dependent upon Him; and that dependence upon Him is reflected in our interdependence upon each other by His design and gifting.

When It’s Time to Quit/Retire

Admittedly, some people who can’t stand/stomach their jobs can’t quit/retire because they can’t afford to quit/retire.

Bills have to be paid; and lottery tickets or trusting governments to take care of our needs are not good retirement plans.

If you don’t like what you are doing and have saved up enough to cover future costs of living so that you really don’t have to do it and dread showing up to do it and are consistently cranky, contentious, contemptuous, counter-productive, and complaining about what you are doing, then don’t do it anymore!  Quit!  Retire!  You will be happier along with the people who are the targets of your transference.

If you don’t have to do what you’re doing, quit, retire, and sing, “Take this job and shove it!  I ain’t workin’ here no more!”

Life is short.

If you don’t like what you’re doing and don’t have to do it to survive, quit/retire!

Life is short.

If you like what you’re doing and can still do it and don’t have anything better in mind, why quit/retire? 

Quitting/retiring makes no sense if you don’t have something to do that you’re called to do and want to do for God’s sake.

People who quit/retire with nothing better to do usually end up listless, lifeless, aimless, and miserable; singing with John Cougar, “Oh yeah, life goes on long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.”

That’s why Mark Twain quipped, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

If you know who and what God has called you to be and do and never quit/retire from it, you will be happy, strong, calm, peace-filled/overflowing, and joyful until your last breath.

When I was in 8th grade, a high school senior wrote this in my yearbook: “May you live as long as you want to and want to as long as you live.”

Quit/retire from doing what you don’t want to do if you’ve saved up enough to quit/retire.

If you like what you’re doing and can still do it, then don’t quit/retire for God’s sake.

If you’re still whistling not whining while you work, don’t quit/retire!


Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Dear Charles,

Sorry I missed your call.

Thanks for the message.

Yes, I remember those early days in Donegal Presbytery and, yes, even that wolf in sheep's clothing of an ecclesiastical bureaucrat who black-balled so many of our evangelical brothers.

While you will always be older than me like my boss in Belvidere, only you know why people are pressing you to retire.

I recommend a time of extended prayer: "Lord, what do you want me to do?"



As pour moi, ain't close; unless knocked off by an Islamofascistnutball savage, idolatrous denominational jingoist, local politician businesswoman/man hating me for calling 'em out in the last post, or someone still mad at me for taking the family on the corner of Lincoln and Main away from them and giving it back to Jesus.

Really, if the family wanted to divorce me, no problem as I'm still marketable pero not as an author and, frankly, I doubt they could find anyone half my age to work the 70+ hours a week without ever taking a day off unless I'm away or forfeiting so many months of vacation or ignoring my biological family to make seasons bright for everybody else and showing up at... Do you know I figured it out?! If the church were like most ethical businesses that really cared about their employees, my wife would have her new kitchen and I'd already have that truck and a lifetime supply from Thompson's. I did the math and I'm owed about...

Actually, I only think about that when I think like other unconverted clergy who forget it's Beruf not a job.

While I know most people care about me as much as the DNC really cares for Al and John and the GOP cares for that creepy guy in Alabama and, if I die today, there will be ham and cole slaw in Fellowship Hall on Wednesday and then folks lined up the very next Sunday to be on the next search committee to get the kinda pastor they really wanted before I came, I'm overwhelmingly in love with the family on the corner of Lincoln and Main, Belvidere and Boone and surrounding counties, and...

So, I guess, if people want you to retire, pray, and, as part of the reflection, look into the mirror and ask what you see and they see...and He sees.

All I know is I remember a guy who wanted to change the world for Jesus; which is why I always looked up to you.

After all, you are a lot older than me...just like Karen will always be a year older than me.

Blessings and Love!

JP said...

As of last night, I have read most of your Disclosures. Touched by some, forced to reflect by most of them, and that is a good thing. Thank you for the mention of my books and some of the things I have written or shared with you.
Happiness, as you well know, is not smiles and a pleasant personality. It is the result of inner peace. There is a serenity that comes with scriptural happiness and all the jokes or funny stories of the world can never produce. It is a result of knowing what others do not. As children of the Father, brothers and sisters of the Redeemer, and bound to one another by the Spirit who allows us to see and know, we can radiate a joy unknown to the unbeliever. It is a joy that flows from understanding, compassion, forgiveness, redemption and love. In knowing that I am reliant on Him who calls me by name, dependent on Jesus who shows me the Way—the Truth---and Life—I am free of worry, unburdened by fear of failure but free to fly. So, yes, it is true that we walk into a room with that knowing smile on our face. Making all to wonder, guess, what we know that they do not.
Smile, my brother, smile a lot

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...


Brother, there's an old maxim: "We get better or worse but do not stay the same."

While I hope and pray and sometimes even labor to get better, which always happens via increased intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I know I'll never be pure and perfect in every way which always reminds me that I never outgrow my need for Jesus as Savior even more than Lord.

I know some anal exegetes will have problems with that last clause; but I know you won't because you have learned so much about the love of God expressed through grace and mercy during your journey.

Really, I look back on some of the things that I've said, written, and done and...

You know what I mean.

While we have learned, as Barclay warned often, God is far more forgiving and restorative than people, the really, really, really good news is we will spend a lot longer time with Him than them.

Blessings and Love!

JP said...

Thank you for lifting another day up!

Ed said...

good stuff, blessings brother !

Wayne said...

I'm gonna brown nose a little, but every Sunday on our drive home, Carol and I discuss your message and what we should do better or guilty of. Altho its good, glad your retirement isnt in near future