You do not have to be married to a deacon or elder to be busy in the kingdom. You can set an example of continuing service.
Have you ever thought about retiring from Christian service? I have been retired from a secular job as a public-school speech therapist for six years now. I enjoyed my job. One of my favorite areas was language-based reading problems. It was a very rewarding experience to aid a child in mastering the intricacies of our language. To share in the relief and joy on parents’ faces when their children made progress in the areas of speech and language was so gratifying. When I look back on the last five years of teaching, I wonder how I got it all done. I was working full time, tutoring after school and in the summer, caring for an elderly mother with dementia, dealing with my husband’s triple bypass surgery and being an elder’s wife. I have co-taught the Sunday morning ladies’ class for about 20 years. I have been a counselor of teen girls at Bible camp and taught 2nd and 3rd graders in VBS for several years. I am the wife of an elder, and we share a love for personal work which includes making visits and hosting Bible studies almost weekly. We were also deeply involved in a jail ministry. As I looked back, I did not think much about it, but now I do wonder how I did it all.
My decision to retire from my secular job was easy. My mother’s care was overwhelming me. She passed away the year that I retired; and during that time, my husband was recovering from bypass surgery. When I became eligible for retirement, I decided my priorities must continue being the church and my family. I knew that I would miss the children on my caseload, but I wanted to begin a new chapter in my life. I never thought about retirement as being a time to just relax. I have had wonderful older women in my life that guided me and left examples of Christian service. Many of them have passed away, but I still have older sisters in my congregation that have set the example of continuing service.
My husband’s health has improved, and we are still involved in personal evangelism and in other areas of service. There are things that I can do now that I was not able to do before. I spend more time in personal Bible study. We are able to attend more Gospel meetings and Christian conferences. Our sons and their families live several hours away, so I borrow “grandchildren” from our congregation and we cook and sew together. I have also occasionally helped some of our children with reading or speech problems just for the joy of doing it. I have spent many hours writing letters of encouragement and in Bible study with inmates in the local jail and the penitentiary.
I have been asked if I miss my secular job. The answer is “No.” I enjoy having more time to devote to the Lord. It has not been a big change, but it has been a worthwhile one!
As I was preparing to write this article, I looked at several verses dealing with Christian service. I have picked out a few to share with you.
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together (John 4:36).
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Did you notice a retirement clause in these verses? I know that, as we get older, we will not be able to do as much physically as we have in the past; but we must not use age or even disability as an excuse to sit back and do nothing. There are many examples of older women in the Scriptures that involved themselves in the Lord’s work. Eunice and Lois influenced their son and grandson in the faith. Naomi guided Ruth in securing her place in the lineage of Jesus. Anna served the Lord in His temple in her old age. Elizabeth faithfully accepted the Lord’s plan for her in becoming the mother of John the Baptist in her old age.
Mentoring is not a Biblical word but it is such an important part of our Christian walk, and it is modeled in the Scriptures. Jesus patiently taught His disciples. Barnabas led the way for Paul. Paul lovingly mentored young Timothy. Older women are told to train the younger women.
We, as older women, have much that we can share. Many of us have been through illnesses, physical and mental suffering, the empty nest syndrome, children in the military, conflicts, widowhood and strife in and out of the church. We have much wisdom in being able to look back and see the providence of God working in our lives.
You do not have to be married to a deacon or elder to be busy in the kingdom. I heard a preacher’s wife say that she sometimes wishes that she was not married to a preacher. Then, the things that she does as a Christian would not be seen as an obligation because of her minister husband. We should all be busy in the kingdom. Retirement or widowhood or an empty nest should not change our desire to be workers. If you are younger and thinking about retiring from a secular job and are afraid that you will be bored, look to your older, faithful retired sisters and ask one of them for advice. However, the best thing to do is to start when you are young in placing the Lord first in your life. Prioritizing important things now will make it easier to continue throughout your life in doing the Lord’s work. Remember the words of Psalm 92:12-15:
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of God. They shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
The rewards of being a laborer in God’s kingdom cannot be overemphasized. I received a text on Mother’s Day from a former inmate that I had encouraged. She wrote the following to me:
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom in every sense of the word! You loved me unconditionally and showed me care and concern. You mentored me and encouraged me. Thank you for being a virtuous woman who teaches those younger (and even many of the same age) to be godly women who love our husbands and our children. Love you so much.
We sent her to New Orleans to be with her family. She married a Gospel preacher and is now working in a prison ministry with him. She is a blessing in my life. We may not know how many others we have influenced through our faithfulness and good works throughout our lifetime until we meet them in eternity.