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Announcing your retirement early has its advantages.

When I celebrated my sixty-third birthday, I decided I would retire in two years.

It wasn't a hasty decision. I had served the same church for thirty-eight years, my entire ministry. The community where we ministered was our home: our children were born in the town hospital, and one of them died there.

Years ago I had buried those who led the church when I first arrived as a young pastor. I performed weddings for couples whose parents I had baptized. Children I had taught in confirmation were now church leaders.

Since ordination, retirement would be the most significant change in my life. Leaving would also impact dramatically others' lives: the church and its staff.

As soon as I made this decision, one question arose: when would I tell others of my decision?

Spilling the beans

Delaying my announcement to the church seemed like a good idea for several reasons. A lame duck pastor might lack the authority to lead the church. The staff and congregation might be distracted from their mission by ...

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