Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Next Chapter? - MANN

“All good things come to an end,” or so an old saying suggests. And when a minister comes to the end of an appointed time with the church, he or she gives the benediction and hands in the keys. However, I know from experience it is not that easy. It just doesn’t happen that way.

I’ve never been able to retire totally from the call of God on my life to ministry, even though I’ve attempted three times. So I ask myself, what makes it different this time? How does one retire from a call? It doesn’t matter if you punch a time clock or simply put your final papers on the boss’s desk; retirement is possible and with some emotional effort, can be accomplished in most cases. Perhaps the question for me is not about retiring, but what shape this retirement will take?

The key in acknowledging my retirement as different this time, was in the Chair of Counsel’s parting comments he offered on behalf of the congregation. He thanked me for spending this chapter of my life with them, acknowledging "there were probably more pages than I’d originally planned." Yes, I thought. Life is never as we plan and it’s important to be flexible to accommodate what else surfaces is in the mix.

In reflection, I have come to think of that comment as a gift of invitation, as I rethink God’s calling and see it in chapters and pages. Ministry has showered blessings on many chapters of my life over the last thirty years. On some of these pages, the print was too small, that I had trouble deciphering the words to expose the way, while on other pages; the font clearly defined purpose with its boldness, leaving no doubt as to intention. Yet, more times, than I could grasp, the pages turned in perfect succession with complete and total direction, showing letters that formed words to show the Way.

Perhaps now the call is to my writing, to take seriously this particular chapter and to celebrate every page. When Oprah recently told her television audience she was entering a new phrase of her life to lose weight and live a different lifestyle, she was closing one chapter of her life and entering another. People do it everyday, so why not me? I know there is more for me after I hand in the keys to the church.

Take Time to Make Memories: Memoires, Manna Publications
WinterGrief: A Personal Response. Essence
Aggie's Storms: The childhood of the first woman elected to Canadian Parliament.Brucedale Press.

Keep in touch with Donna Mann at


Peter Black said...

This post resonates with me as I'm looking at retiring next year, and the question of "what shape this retirement might take" (to quote you), becomes more relevant as time goes by.
May you have great joy and peace as you navigate this transition in life.

Eleanor Shepherd said...

I am now entering my second post retirement ministry after thirty years in full time ministry in The Salvation Army. That is not counting my writing ministry that has always been on the side. I relate well to what you are speaking about. I was once asked to share publicly with our clergy in France about the chapter of my life called France, at the end of our first posting there. Thanks for your thoughts on this subject.

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