Should Men Of God Retire From Active Service? – Clerics Speak

By BY CHRIS IREKAMBA   |   08 May 2010   |   10:00 pm  
RETIREMENT is often related to those who serve in the public or private sectors of an economy. When applied to men and women who work in the service of God, then it sounds awkward and controversial. Should men of God retire? CHRIS IREKAMBA sampled the views of some religious leaders.

Most Leaders In The Quran Who Held Positions Of Authority Held Them For Life’

(Dr. Abdul-Lateef Adegbite, CON, Seriki and Baba Adini ofEgbaland; Secretary-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA)

I CAN’T think of any, with reference to the Quran. Normally, it is determined by the ability and soundness of health Ñ both the body and the mind. One should be healthy enough to carry on the work of Allah. In any given system, there is nothing wrong for one to hold a particular responsibility. There is no Quranic injunction to show that at a particular time, an individual retired from serving Allah. Society allows individuals to hold or occupy particular offices, and the constitution states that such persons shall hold particular positions for a period of time. But when you are working for Allah, there is no time limit to that effect. Most leaders in the Quran, who held positions of authority, held them for life. The only record we have seen so far is that they either died or were assassinated.

Leadership must be by consent of the community and the same community can give or prescribe tenure. And once that expires, you leave the stage for another. But if it is the other way round, it has to be for life, as it happens in the Quran. The only problem one might contend with is when your judgment becomes defective, on account of insanity; you have to be removed.

In Methodist Church, Retirement Is Compulsory’

(His Eminence Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde, Prelate, Methodist Church, Nigeria)

IT depends on the denomination. For instance, in the Methodist Church, Nigeria, Anglican Communion, and Baptist Church Ñ these are the orthodox churches. We have a constitution, which states, categorically, that once you are 70 years, you must retire. Man is not a machine, and even if he is, there are days it will work and there are days it won’t.

For those of us in the Methodist Church, retirement is compulsory. At 70, 65, you can go on voluntary retirement. It is good for you to retire at 70 and it is to help you to live long. You can still serve God, whether on retirement or when you are in service, until you die. But there is need to give your body rest. You can serve God and the church after retirement. God worked for six days, and on the seventh day, He rested. Again, for optimum productivity, it is good to retire at 70. Your productivity will be very low on anything you put in after 70.

At 70, you can retire, so that you can enjoy with your family, wife and children.

This is church administration. You cannot find it in the Bible, either in the New Testament or the Old Testament. You can find this in the Anglican Communion, Methodist Church, Baptist Church. These are the orthodox churches and we do things in common.

When you retire, the younger generations are given opportunity to come in and prove their mettle. Life changes and these younger ones are vibrant. After 70 years of working in the vineyard of God, you need rest, mentally, physically and otherwise.

Working With God Is Intimacy, A Relationship, And It Is Unending’

(Evangelist Elishama Ideh, Founder and President of Christ Ever-present Ministries (CTEM), a charity organisation and initiator of Partnership For A New Nigeria (PFANN), a socio-advocacy group, which promotes ethical revolution)

THE work of God is a relationship. It is not work, per seÑ like a secular job with a retirement age. It is intimacy, a relationship with God, and it is unending. I don’t think somebody who has had intimacy with the Lord, and has had fellowship with God will retire.

Yes, age might tell on you, there might be certain things you cannot do again. But even while you are still resting, the work continues. You can minister to people when they come to visit you; you can pray for them. And technology has made it easier now. You can minister to people through the Internet, through Facebook and so on. There is, really, no retirement or retiring from God’s service, until He calls you home. I don’t see any patriarch in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, who worked till a certain age and folded up the relationship on that account. It is a relationship and it is by reason of that relationship that God will give you an assignment.

Why should there be a retirement? Once you finish an assignment, God calls you into another, until it is time for Him to take you home. So, Biblically, I don’t see any support for that. But some religious bodies have a system whereby someone, in a particular position, upon attaining a certain age, gives way so that another person can come in.

In that case, you cannot continue to keep the person in that same office for so long. But even if that man retires, he’s still in the system, working in one capacity or the other. But as head of that particular office, they just draw him out and call it retirement. But, really, he’s not retiring from the service of the Lord. Even when God calls you home, by Biblical injunction, you go there, worshipping Him for eternity. That is why I said it’s a relationship; it’s a communion with God. It’s unending.

David Retired From Active Service And Caused His Son Solomon To Be Crowned Before His Death’

(Venerable Luyi Akinwande, Dean, Cathedral of St. Jude Diocese of Lagos Mainland (Anglican Communion)

PRACTICES, principles and doctrines of the church are guided by what can be established from scriptures, traditions of the church and reasoning. Where any issue is allowed, sanctioned or guided by any or all of these, such is adopted. If any of these three contradict such, it may not be practised.

The priestly order, whose principles and precepts derive largely from God’s directive, said Aaron and his three sons should serve as priests. The Levites were descendants of Levi, who assisted priests in tasks within the tabernacle, and later in the temple. Initially, the task of the Levites was to assist in construction and carrying of the tabernacle from place to place (Numbers 3:10). The Levites entered service at age 25 and went into semi-retirement at age 50, after which they still serve in office but do not do strenuous tasks (Numbers 8:24-26). Reading the last passage together with Numbers 4:3ff, it would seem there were some initial five years, which were spent for apprenticeship.

Kings in those days performed the roles of rulers, and in some occasions, priestly functions. It would be recalled that David retired from active service and caused his son Solomon to be crowned before his death (see 1 Chronicles 29:21-30.) This principle would also be seen from how Joshua was appointed before the demise of Moses and Elisha, before Elijah was taken up to heaven.

It should be clear to all, that as people age, they become less able to meet the (physical) demands of office. So, it is reasonable, apart from being scriptural, to retire from office at an age. The Bible makes it clear that Christians can agree on some issues and such will be binding on them (Matthew 16:19). It follows that, if an organisation fixes the age for retirement (different from 50 mentioned above) or for health reasons, such will be Biblical and reasonable. It is logical from experience that man cannot continue to work forever. Having a retirement age or retiring on health grounds is scriptural, Biblical and reasonable.

It is my view that workers ought to look forward to retirement. I do.

Those who Retire From God’s Work See It As Normal Mundane Job, Not For God’s Sake’

(Abdur Rahman Bello, Imam, Albarkah Mosque, Olambe)

IN Islam, God’s work may be referred to as Da’wah, which connotes calling people to the way of Allah, enjoying what is good and forbidding what is bad. It is a collective responsibility. The Qur’an says: “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoying Al-Ma’ruf (Islamic monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do). And forbidding Al-Munkar (Polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful. “(Q3 v. 104)

Taking up God’s work (Da’wah) requires absolute sincerity, as absence of this will encourage abandonment midway, especially when things become tough. The motive should be purely for God’s sake and not for any material or worldly benefit. Insincerity of intention will bring about discouragement, in the long run. The Prophet (Mohammed SAW) says: Actions shall be judged according to intention”.

Retiring from God’s work, therefore, presumes that the motive for taking it up initially was not for God’s sake. Anything one does for God’s sake, no matter the obstacle encountered, is never boring. But if the motive is for worldly gains, once it is not achieved, one will try to seek fulfillment elsewhere.

Those who retire from God’s work see it as normal, mundane job or appointment, from which one may retire due to age limit or, resign due to job dissatisfaction. On the other hand are those who do not. These see it as divine assignment, which must be carried out till death, and for which account will be made to God. The latter group is the one that truly does God’s work. They will not retire from it because they know the implication of doing so. Lessons on this are learnt from the story of Prophet Yunus (Jonah) when he tried to run away from God’s work. (See Qur’an 37 v.139-148; 21 v.87)

Thus, in Islam, no retirement from God’s work, until mission is accomplished or death comes. The Prophet says: “Khayrul A’amaali Khawaatimiha’ (the best of works is the one that is completed). What our Imams, Alfas and Shaykhs are concerned with is how to accomplish the mission, and should death overtake them, who continues the work after their demise? This is epitomised in the life of the Prophet (SAW) and Allah wants us to emulate him when He says:”Indeed in the messenger of Allah (Muhammed, SAW) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much” Q33 v.21.

Biblically, Men Of God Are Not Called To Retirement, Except On Health Situation’

(Rev. Isaac Adeyemi, District General Overseer of Foursquare Gospel Church, Ikorodu 2, Lagos)

RETIREMENT is all about quitting your job or your place of assignment, either voluntarily or on account of age. But biblically, there’s no place where men of God are called to retirement. Therefore, on no account should men of God retire except when your faith can no longer carry your health situation.

Those who retire from God’s work, I believe must have their personal reasons for doing so without any link to the Bible and those who do not intend to retire may also be working in the perfect will of God for their lives.

Looking through the entire Bible, you will never find a place where God specifically declares that men carrying out His assignment should retire; but you find in so many passages where men of God got tired of doingGod’s work and were asking for retirement and at such instances God had always obliged them, raising up replacements to take over their assignments. A perfect example was Moses’ grumbling against God in the wilderness over the people He has given to him and asking God to kill him (Numbers 11:11-15) and this was where God began to prepare other men who started the process of taking over from Moses. Elijah too committed the same error as a result of pressure fromAhab and Jezebel, his wife when he taught that only him wasthe prophet of God of his time. He became weary and discouraged and at that point God instructed that Elisha be anointed in his place (1 kings 19:14-16).

The scripture is clear that God cannot be boxed; if one manquits doing His job He’ll raise severalother men to do the same. Therefore, we should never be discouraged or disenchanted to the extent that we would begin to complain against God. It is never in His perfect will that men of God retire from being His servant.

Clergymen Don’t Go On Retirement’

(Rev. Christopher Lekan Alawode

Rector, Ministers of God International Institute of Learning (MOGIIL), Ibadan)

RETIREMENT is not applicable to those who serve God because it has no precedence in the Bible. God is always at work and He never, once, mentioned in His word that those whom He calls should retire at any age. God calls people into His service and it isHe alone that decides how and when to dispense with their service. The Bible says, “And no man takes this honour by himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was” Hebrews 5:4. There is a common saying that: “A clergy doesn’t go on vacation.”

The history of God’s servants started with the Levitical Order. It proceeded from the people and was not a privileged class. Moses was instructed: “Now take Aaron your brother and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to Me as priest, Aaron and Aaron’s sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamah” Exodus 28:1. The duty of the priest was to instruct people in the law, and to enable them to spread this knowledge throughout the land.

The age at which service to God was to be required from the Levites was, originally, 30 years, and was later reduced to 20 years, in the time of Solomon Ð 1 Chronicles 23:24-27; Ezra 3:8. The retiring age was never mentioned anywhere in the Bible. God does not dispense with His servants on the basis of old age, especially those who serve Him loyally. God dispensed with Moses, not because of old age, although he was 120 years old, and before then, Joshua had been commissioned. At the time Joshua was commissioned, he was old enough to retire. The Bible says, “Now, Joshua was old, advanced in years, and the Lord said to him: “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed” (Joshua 13:1).

The servants of God in the Bible served until God called them home. Elderly servants of God are regarded as the repositories of knowledge and experience. The Bible says, “Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom” (Job 32:7). God’s servants have the choice to reduce their activities to the minimum they can cope with, when advancing in age, but not to go on retirement or quit serving the Lord.And even when God’s servants are incapacitated, the Spirit of God will always assign jobs to His loyal servant, which he will not be able to reject.

To buttress my advocacy for non-retirement for men in the service of God, I want to refer to the story of a priest in the days of Zachariah, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So, it was while he was serving as priest before God, in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, that his lot fell to burn incense” (Luke 1:5-9).
Diocese Of Abuja: Jonathan Expected At Synod May 13

THE President Goodluck Jonathan is expected at this year’s third session of the seventh synod of the Diocese of Abuja Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), tagged:”In Times like This,” holding at the Cathedral Church of the Advent Gwarimpa, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from May 13-16.

The Synod will be presided over by the Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Revd Nicholas D. Okoh, who also doubles as the Diocesan Bishop.

The event opens with a holy Eucharist service on Thursday, May 13, and Bishop of Ogorimagongo, Province of Lokoja, Rt. Revd Festus, is expected to deliver the sermon, while Bishop of Warri Diocese, Rt. Revd Christian Ide, takes the Bible study throughout the event.

On Friday, May 14, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, is expected to give his first charge as Primate and Bishop at 10am to be followed by a thanksgiving service at the same venue on Sunday and the Bishop of Mbamili Diocese, Rt. Revd Henry Okeke, will preach at the service.

Other eminent personalities expected to grace the event include the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, among others.



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