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Posts By: Weymann Lee

Popular Posts from the Archive: Retiring from the Ministry?

Nov. 5, 2015By: Weymann Lee

“Retirement” is the dream of most Americans.  We work hard throughout life with the hope that someday we won’t have to work anymore.  We will be able to just relax and enjoy the remainder of our life without any worries or concerns.

retirement_roadHowever, for those of us who have been called by God to the ministry, the word “retirement” should not be in our vocabulary! We know that Scripture never teaches the concept of retirement. We believe that when God calls us to serve Him, it is not for a limited period of time; rather, it is a life long privilege and calling where we serve Him until He calls us home to glory. When God calls us to serve Him, He also puts in our heart a deep desire to continually serve Him – to be “abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58) and that desire is what keeps us in the ministry, even during difficult times when we feel like quitting.

From a financial standpoint, most of us in the vocational ministry often can’t afford to truly retire. The salary that many receive doesn’t allow us to put much away for future retirement.  We don’t have the kind of retirement or pension plans that are offered by secular employers.

So, what is a pastor to do when he reaches retirement age and feels it’s time for him to “retire” from the pastoral ministry?  How can a pastor continue to serve the Lord through his retirement years?  Is there a ministry that he can be involved with where he can continue to make an impact in Christ’s kingdom?

These were the kinds of questions that I struggled with last year as I was completing 35 years in the pastoral ministry.  My wife and I felt it was time for me to retire from the pastoral ministry and to “pass the baton” onto younger men who have been trained for the ministry. But yet I didn’t want to “sit on the sidelines” and idly watch others serve.

My heart’s desire was and is to continue to serve the Lord and make an impact in His kingdom throughout my “retirement” years. (Psalm 71:17-18). Little did we realize the Lord had already started preparing our hearts for our “retirement” ministry.

THE URGENT NEED     

Over the past several years, we had learned that 75% of all Christian believers today live outside the U.S. in the “majority world”, where the majority of the world’s population resides – in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Many refer to this area as the “10/40 Window”.

As a result of the advancement of the gospel in these parts of the world, many churches are being established and are growing at an astounding rate! However there are an insufficient number of pastors who are theologically trained in God’s Word to shepherd the growing number of believers in these churches!

It is estimated that there are approximately 5 million pastors outside the U.S.  An overwhelming majority of them (85%) have very little to no solid theological training or have no access to it. This situation has been described as a “theological famine”.  

We were able to truly understand this great need when we heard the following statistics:

      * Ratio of theologically trained pastors to people in the U.S.:            1:230

      * Ratio of theologically trained pastors to people outside the U.S.:     1:450,000

When my wife and I first learned about this immense need, the Lord put in our hearts a deep desire to help with the training and encouragement of these national pastors. I wanted to share with them what the Lord has taught me through my years of training and experience in the ministry. 

While I was still in the pastoral ministry, I was able to participate in a number of short-term ministry trips to help equip these national pastors and church leaders in various countries around the world.  Through these trips the Lord truly opened our eyes to this great, pressing need.  We learned that the number one need and request from missionaries, churches and pastors outside the U.S. is for pastoral and leadership training.

Last year, as I was considering retiring from the pastoral ministry, it became very evident to my wife and me that the Lord was leading us to become involved in this ministry.  As we stepped out in faith in following His leading, the Lord sovereignly led us to serve with Training Leaders International.

We’re excited and humbled about our new ministry and to see how the Lord will use us through our retirement years to not only impact the lives of many national pastors and church leaders around the world, but also the churches that they lead!

THE ENCOURAGEMENT – From Pastor to Pastor

Let me encourage those of you who are currently in the pastoral ministry to consider being a part of a short-term ministry team (1-2 week trip) to help in the training of these national pastors in other countries around the world*. It is a great opportunity for you, as well as your church, to make an immense impact for Christ around the world.   

Let me encourage those of you who are veteran pastors, those who may be considering “retiring” from pastoral ministry, NOT to retire from the ministry. As Dr. John Piper exhorts us in his booklet “Rethinking Retirement”**: Finish life to the glory of Christ!

Utilize the remaining years that the Lord graciously gives you to continue to serve and to glorify Him.  Pass on what the Lord has taught you to national pastors and church leaders around the world who are eager to be equipped to teach the Word!

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2


 

*TLI offers a number of short-term ministry opportunities throughout the year that pastors can participate in. (See “Short-Term Opportunities” ) TLI is also seeking veteran and retired pastors and missionaries to be International Trainers either part-time or full-time. (See “Employment”.)

** Download a free pdf of “Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ” 

 

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Support Raising: God’s Amazing Provision for Ministry

Aug. 10, 2015By: Weymann Lee

When I began to consider retiring after 35 years of pastoral ministry and my wife and I began seeking the Lord’s will for our next ministry, little did we realize that He had already been preparing our hearts over the past number of years.  I had had the privilege to be a part of several short-term ministry trips to other countries to help train national pastors and church leaders, most of whom have little to no theological training. God ignited a passion in our hearts for the training of these pastors and leaders; and as we sought out His leading for our “retirement”, we sensed that He was leading us to this specific kind of ministry.

Our Struggle

As we began to prepare for this new ministry opportunity, we knew for certain that we would need to raise support. In other words, we would be missionaries. Having only been in the pastoral ministry, I have never had to raise support since churches generally provide a salary for their pastors. 

please-giveAs much as we love the work of missions and have always been supportive of missionaries, we knew that becoming missionaries ourselves was going to be a challenge. It meant that we would have to go around and ask people for money, an idea that neither of us were comfortable with or eager to do. We also knew that raising support would take time; we knew many missionaries who spent a number of years raising support before they could even begin serving in the field.  At this point in our lives and ministry, we wanted to transition into our next ministry as soon as possible.  

Ultimately, raising support became the one factor that held us back from wholeheartedly pursuing the ministry that God had put on our hearts.

God’s Reminder

After much time spent thinking, praying, reading about raising support, and seeking counsel, the Lord reminded us of the following:

1) If we wanted to be involved in a ministry of training national pastors, we would have to raise support. There was no other choice. 

2) Raising support for ministry is clearly taught and modeled in Scripture. (Matthew 10:9-10; Acts 18:4-5; 1 Corinthians 9:1-18; Philippians 4:18; 1 Timothy 5:18). Therefore, it’s not wrong to ask people to financially support our ministry.

3) Being a missionary is, in reality, no different from being in the pastoral ministry. As a pastor, our family had been supported financially by the giving of a local body of believers. As missionaries, we would be supported financially by the giving of believers within the body of Christ.

4) If God truly called us to this ministry, He would perfectly provide for all of our needs. God alone could move the hearts of His people to support our ministry.  It was not our responsibility to persuade or convince others. This was a liberating truth for us.

5) Being involved in this kind of a ministry would require that we take a step of faith and trust God for His provision. This meant that we would have unanswered questions, doubts and uncertainties.  If we didn’t, there would be no faith involved and, therefore, God would not be pleased or ultimately glorified (Hebrews 11:6).

God’s Amazing Provision

My wife and I made the decision to retire from the pastorate and step out in faith to pursue the ministry that God had laid on our hearts.  In His perfect plan and timing, He brought us into contact with Training Leaders International, a Christian non-profit organization whose vision was to provide solid biblical training in God’s Word to pastors in developing countries around the world.

After submitting an application and going through their interview process, I was invited to join the staff as an International Trainer. Upon receiving my letter of appointment, we began the process of raising support for our ministry.  Even though we were given 18 months to raise full support, we had no idea how long it would take.

We simply started by personally sharing with others about the ministry God had called us to, inviting them to partner with us, praying, and allowing God to do His work in people’s hearts.  

We were and are amazed, at times even at a loss for words and even left in thankful tears, at seeing God’s perfect provision for our ministry at each step of this journey. By the end of six months, He had provided 50% of our support, which enabled me to begin serving part-time. At nine months, we had reached more than 75% of our support, allowing me to serve full-time. By the end of twelve months, the Lord provided 90%; and by the end of eighteen months, we reached 100% of our monthly support goal.

We still find it hard to believe that we have reached full support and are continually thanking and praising God for His amazing provision for our ministry. We realize that this is not something we have done, but it is what He alone has done! To Him be the glory! 

We also see His provision for our ministry as affirmation that this is the ministry that God has called us to.

Encouragement

If you’re considering serving the Lord in work of missions, or perhaps even in training national pastors abroad and you’re reluctant to pursue that ministry because it requires support-raising, remember…

* If God has called you to the ministry, He will provide for you in His perfect timing.

* Raising support is a biblical concept. It’s not wrong to ask people to financially support your ministry.

* It’s God’s responsibility to move His people to support your ministry, not yours.  He will move the hearts of those whom He wills. Just faithfully share from your heart what God has called you to do, prayerfully commit it to the Lord, and then let Him do His work.

* It will require you to take a step of faith and to trust Him to provide for you.

Raising support for ministry may seem like an impossible task; but remember, we have a God who can do what is seemingly impossible.  Step out in faith, trust Him, and you will be amazed at His provision for your ministry!

 

 

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