I should have put money down and shaken hands with any number of people who were betting I would not be able to make the switch to semi-retirement at 25%. I could have made a bundle off my wife but that’s hardly a net gain for the household.

Before I started semi-retirement my wife, Leanne, said, “Honey the thing I’m very clear about is that you are taking a 75% reduction in pay. I’m not at all clear how you are going to reduce the number of your work hours by 75%. You’ve been working hard, often long hours as a pastor for 35 years. How are you going to do it?”

I wouldn’t exactly call this a strategy but honestly, finding out I had cancer at the same time I semi-retired helped! All the appointments and procedures changed up my schedule in a hurry.

All that nastiness also accelerated my need to slow down, get re-centered, and value the simpler things of life.

I am one of those very fortunate people who have had a job that rarely leaves me wondering why I bother doing what I do. I still wholeheartedly believe in the worth and need of good churches, good pastors and seeking to bring the values of the kingdom of God to bear on the needs of the world. But sometimes I used to get so wrapped up in what I was doing it was as if I thought God’s hands were tied and I was needed to keep the world, or my little section of it, from unraveling.

It’s okay to laugh. Those times when I overestimate my importance are, in fact, laughable. I would say the same about being a parent. It’s one of the most important things any of us who have kids will ever do, but sheesh, sometimes we act as if it all depends on us. It does not.

This attitude is not being disengaged but more like the Buddhist concept of “detachment;” which Jesus mastered! Kelly Cultrone writes that “Detachment doesn’t mean I’m trying less hard. It just means that fears and emotions that used to torment and paralyze me longer have the same power over me.”

This “detachment” is the only way I’m not going bonkers with the circus formerly known as our government. Healthy detachment doesn’t mean being apathetic, ignorant, cynical or not voting. For me, it just means that after we’ve done what we can do, God still has “the whole world in (his) hands”. God has seen kingdoms rise and fall, ministries do great things and commit atrocities, parents flourish and feel like they failed, and the only thing worthy of our attachment is that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Nothing but love,

Mark