Pastor retire
Why is it difficult for some pastors to simply retire? (Lightstock)

Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing his reflections and practical insights as a ministry leader on Greenelines, a new podcast. Listen at

When I read a story on how difficult it is for writers, artists, and rock stars to retire (May 20th in the U.K.'s Telegraph) by critic Neil McCormick, I immediately thought of pastors and ministry leaders.

Granted, they're not famous writers or rock stars (at least most of them) but generally speaking, they don't lead normal working lives. While they work very hard, they don't have typical 8 to 5 jobs, don't slave at a desk, can determine their own schedule, can be intensively creative, and are passionate about their work.

Not a bad life—which makes retirement quite difficult. Pastors and leaders—don't be offended, but while your job can be very challenging, you're not really retiring from a job you hate.

But back to McCormick's post. Read the excerpt below and you'll understand why pastors and ministry leaders (like novelist Philip Roth he's writing about) have difficulty retiring.  Here's the important section:

"Philip Roth has announced his retirement. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say he has reiterated his retirement. Two years after the publication of his 2010 novel Nemesis, Roth declared that it would be his last. Now it seems he has broken his self-imposed silence to affirm his self-imposed silence, giving a televised interview to insist that he is not going to give any more interviews, or appear on television. At 81, Roth is shuffling very slowly off the world's stage, taking curtain calls. This is the showbiz way, in which retirement is a very flexible concept.

For most people, retirement involves giving up the day job to potter around doing stuff you always wanted to do, like write, paint, perhaps pluck a musical instrument. But what if those very things are your occupation? It can be hard to take seriously pronouncements of retirement by artists, novelists, musicians, actors and other creative types.

Perhaps because we have never taken seriously the idea that they had a proper job in the first place. These are people who make their living indulging in what everyone else considers leisure pursuits. What are they going to do with their spare time? Take up a hobby?"

So next time you get frustrated because a pastor or ministry leader won't quietly step into the shadows, this will give you some insight.

What are the biggest reasons you've encountered that make church and ministry succession so challenging?

Phil Cooke, Ph.D., is a filmmaker, media consultant and co-founder of Cooke Pictures in Los Angeles. Find out more at

For the original article, visit

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Praying for leaders

    Failing to Do This Can Spell Disaster for the Church

    And it has the potential to destroy many lives.

  • Many of these issues are self-inflicted.

    10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

    Here is why the churches that die from them do so by their own hand.

  • Graveyard

    An Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor

    There are eight common patterns to look for.

  • Do yourself and her a favor. Take the target off your pastor's wife's back.

    Why Pastors' Wives Have a Target on Their Back

    Here are three instances of what we are doing to the wives of God's servants sent to ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders