My Last Day of Salaried Employment

Today is my last day of showing up for salaried work.

My wife is very excited.

Not me. Not because I regret the choice; rather the decision lacks many of the signs that others use to mark a transition.

I work from my office at home so I will continue to make the daily commute, sit at the same desk, feel the same keyboard and reach for the same pens.

Three months before this date I ceased to initiate any new projects or take on any responsibilities that would extend beyond this day. My situation is not like that of many other retirees where they step to one side as they watch the parade pass them by.

One of the interesting things about this time is the similarity of the questions I now face to those I encountered in my twenties.

What are you going to do?

What do you want to do with this time?

Often the assumption is that retirement means breaking the fetters of others’ demands and launching into “freedom.” I hear the echo of that (false) slogan – “You can be whatever you want to be.”

Well… I want to be a star defenceman playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins or a point guard sinking 3 pointers with the Cavaliers. No more likely now than 40 years ago.

There are constraints of talent and physical ability. I may like to work for Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service alongside Bond but something tells me arthritis in my joints may make that difficult.

This transition though does allow the luxury of sitting to the hard question of separating needs from wants, opportunities from obligations, perennial yearning from temporary compulsion.

Of course, money is always a factor. yet lack of money is not as large a limiting factor as I once supposed. Still it does dampen any urge to surprise my wife with our new Alfa Romeo Spyder sports car.

The more interesting question concerns time.

Very few retired people are faced with empty calendars.

According to polls, 37% of retirees said they were surprised at not having enough time in the day for everything they’d like to do.

Two-thirds of retired Canadians spend their time with friends and family. Sixty percent pursue hobbies, 49% travel, and 29% volunteer or do board work.

The most common activities of retirees include writing, biking, hiking, gardening, volunteering, traveling, reading, watching TV and having lunch with friends.

I resonate with the moral imperative of those of the Millennial mindset: Don’t waste my time! I am no longer paid to sit through pointless meetings or listen to people who do not actually want help or to make a point. If freedom comes it will be because of this axiom.[Tweet “I resonate with the moral imperative of the Millennials: Don’t waste my time!”]

What I will do is to indulge my curiosity even more.

Retirees spend about an hour each day reading , about three times as much time as the typical person. I’m in.

As long as I’m able, I will think and write, at least until my wife refuses my request, “Will you read this?”

One great thing about working for the church is that, generally, the work provides great flexibility, of which I have taken advantage.

I am profoundly grateful for the very many opportunities that have been afforded me. I do not leave feeling I am owed anything or that I owe anything.

Tomorrow will just be the beginning of the next chapter.

For today, a sermon needs writing for Sunday.

How do the rest of you who are retired invest your time?


  1. I retired last August. I promised myself and my wife that I would do nothing; take on no new commitments. I retained three from before retirement; none are related to the church directly. I write a weekly column for the local newspaper. I host a weekly show on Rogers TV. I serve as a public member on our Board of Health (an appointment by the government of Ontario).

    In the first month after I retired, I slept a lot. Three times a day, in fact. And seven hours a night. I could feel the tension in my gut slowly ease, day by day.

    I worked in the Federal Election, including doing some really interesting work in management of an advance poll. My ministry skills, especially those of herding kittens, came in very handy.

    About six months into retirement I was asked to serve a small, rural multi-point charge as they go through their transition time between ministers. I accepted and I’m really liking it. The stress is a whole lot less. They are learning (again) that there is a lot they can do for themselves to be God’s people. And I am walking with one of the congregations as they navigate their future in choosing between disbanding, amalgamation or continuing.

    The blessing? Time. Time to think, time to write, time to play, time to sleep. My nemesis in One Click Pay on Amazon. Too many books, not enough money.

    1. Thanks for this thoughtful response David. I resonate with so much of what you say – the sleep, the “so many books, so little time,” the need to leave space. I found your comments about sleep particularly interesting. Why are we so often like the frog in the boiling pot, not really aware of the stress and toll until the heat is off?

      I have heard others recommend the 6 – 12 month “cooling off,” recreating period. There seems to be a consensus of wisdom on this.

      Thanks again.

      1. Thanks, Keith. If there was a big adjustment it was that as a retired minister I learned to realize that our church does not really value the wisdom of elders. I have learned to keep my mouth shut, especially in church courts. Indeed, I rarely attend now. I don’t need the stress.

  2. Keith, thank you so much for bringing yourself to ministry all these years. The gifts of laughter and delight that you give are, in my opinion, desperately needed among church leaders. I will miss you at the many meetings that you won’t be sorry to miss. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by your humour and wisdom (oh, and your fabulous irreverence!) even in your “retirement”. Dance on good and faithful servant!

    1. Thanks Jay. Fabulous or not it seems the irreverence is part of the package! 🙂 Blessings on your continued faithfulness!

  3. Hey Keith,
    I’m a pro at this. I’ve retired several times… but still trying to figure it out.
    After 29 years as a military chaplain operating on 10 cylinders in high stress it was a delight to sit back and become a freelance writer (paid). .. which kind of evolved into cable televison production(unpaid)… and thence to storytelling….
    Still relatively young, I took a low stress most of the time (only 8 cylinders required) civilian church for a few years, but wanted to return to writing and that sense of freedom.
    Retired again and conference gave me a set of gardening gloves… I should have taken the hint…. went to visit old friends at Presbytery and ended up on conference executive….
    Ran into a friend at Victoria Business and he convinced me that a person could make a living wage as a writer, even if his name wasn’t King or Berton. A few business workshops later there I was hanging out my sign as a Personal historian. You know.. it worked. One year later I had made more money than the church had been paying me…
    So I quit the personal history business. I had proved my point and retired again.
    Since that time I have flirted as a volunteer with a suburban church, and now with a down town church,… perhaps only to see what it was like (4 cylinders seemed to do it for a while but the jobs seem to escalate stealth-fully and quickly ).
    Perhaps I will soon retire from Volunteer-ism and go on a honeymoon trip with my wife.
    Of course, there are those two manuscripts of leftovers from the military history books I’ve written…. ebooks would be the way to go…. you could do that on a cruise… she may make me leave my portable computer at home…
    Someday I may learn how to retire. For right now, I think my many jobs and interests keep me feeling young and alive… and it produces a lot of butter.

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