Ministry “Retirement”

While I’m not close to retirement age, I’m nearing it every year. Some eagerly await that time, yet others desire to stay busy as long as possible.

When it comes to ministry retirement, I learned a valuable lesson from the Levites in the Old Testament. They were the group responsible for leading the people of God in worship.

23 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. 25 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26 They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”

Numbers 8:23-26

Did you catch the progression? While changing responsibilities when turning 50 may not be our standard, the principle is a gamechanger.

  • 25-50-year-olds were supposed to serve actively in leading the religious formation of the people.
  • 50 + year-olds were supposed to serve actively in leading the continual formation of the younger leaders.

During one stage, you did the work for everyone. At another time, you did the job by mentoring, caring, guarding, and discipling the younger ones.

As someone actively in ministry service between the ages of 25-50, I know that what most peers like myself have desired at some point – someone a little older and wiser to show us the way. We wish to be mentored even if they are just a little further down the path.

Ministers want someone to help by intentionally prioritizing the worthy goals and forewarning the dangerous traps.

Anyone who has served for decades of ministry should have a treasure chest of lessons gained by experience that could help the next generation bypass common missteps. Even if you didn’t receive that, could you give that to another?

Maybe you are retired or nearing retirement, but I guarantee there are some younger ministers in your proximity that would love an encouragement, an exhortation, or an example. You may never know how successful a ministry “retirement” like this could be. You may not be actively doing the same ministry you used to do, but I promise there is still ministry left to be done.