I am a Presbyterian pastor with some 34 years of wonderful, productive ministry. I have recently faced the startling prospect that in about 2 years I will be out, retired. I had thought that even in retirement I would continue on preaching and teaching but this is not as easy to do today as it was 10 years ago.
A very frightening realization is that my wife and I have no direction of where to go. We know we must leave this area we have lived in for almost 30 years because we don't want to hinder the next pastor. All of our friends and contacts are here but I am sure everything will end suddenly when we have to move. We have two boys in professions in Wash, DC and in Phil. but they are busy with their lives and we cannot afford to buy a house there. I know the Lord has always led us to be where we are and will continue but we are totally stymied as to any kind of planning of choosing where to go and don't want to wait till the last minute. Do you have any guidance?"
Dear brother in Christ,
I can only relate to you how I've been led by the Holy Spirit but God leads each of us in different ways to different ministries.
I'm a long retired Lutheran pastor who has been preaching and teaching in churches (pro-bono) that are not always Lutheran. My wife and I did move 25 miles away from our former parish mostly because we were living in the church's parsonage and preferred moving and buying a house in this town. These were the only directions that we had; i.e. we needed to move and we liked this town.
A local Lutheran pastor invited us to church and encouraged me to hold Sunday morning Bible classes after the worship service and to fill in for him when he took vacation or conference time. But he accepted a call elsewhere and then when the politics of that "Synod" (not the same as mine) decided not to remain with the Scripture, and we left. I then determined to find out what was happening in the other Christian churches in town and began to visit them on Sunday mornings. At one of them I also joined the layman -led Sunday morning Bible classes and somehow found myself invited to teach a new Bible class. And that led to preaching when needed by the pastor.
None of this was planned by me. So it is difficult to give any advice except to go to our good shepherd and ask Him to put out some signs or markers that you can see and follow. He certainly doesn't leave us nor forsake us. He is such a God of grace that He has a personal plan for us when we retire. I keep remembering that He didn't have Moses start his ministry of getting Israel out of Egypt and into to the promised land until Moses was 80 years old. Well, I've only got 5 or 6 years till then but I'm looking forward to whatever He has in mind even though I'm really ready to go home.
By the way, my good wife also joins me in this strange ministry and is even active as the church secretary one day a week. Both of us really do enjoy our life together. It's an adventure wherein we don't know what tomorrow will bring but since God is fully in charge, the weight of being in pastoral work is so much lighter and there is much more time to study and spend with each other.
So, I'd advise you to stick with your last sentence, namely that you "know God has always led us....." In spite of all our past failings, He still loves to call us His "good and faithful servants" who have already been redeemed to be His children through the blood of His Son.
Write again with any further questions or just to chat.
Yours in Christ,