Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 25, 2006


Retired life is more fun than I thought it would be


          As I neared the age of 70 I did not imagine I would enjoy being retired. I fought it, not wanting to give up the full-time ministry that had been my life for so long.

          Now that I have tried it for four years, I must admit that retired life is much more fun than I thought it would be. Actually I did go back to work full-time on the staff of Saint James United Methodist Church in Montgomery. That is what makes retired living so much fun – I can still work.

          It is nice to be out of the pressure cooker that comes with being the “senior pastor” of a large church. That is not an easy job. What makes it difficult is being responsible for almost everything, including a large staff. To be effective, senior pastors have to make decisions that are not always popular and well received by fellow staff members or members of the congregation.

          God blessed me with the gift of delegation and that made my job easier. Any pastor’s effectiveness depends upon his ability to find gifted people he can trust. Once he does that, he needs to get out of their way and let them serve. That worked for me most of the time and I remain deeply grateful to the people who trusted me enough to serve God alongside me.

          In my new job as a staff member, not the boss, I enjoy being able to leave those tough decisions to my boss – and go home smiling. That helps me to relax and trust my superiors in the same way I wanted my staff members to trust me.

          Will they make mistakes? Absolutely – just like I did. Success is not being perfect in decision-making; it is learning to embrace your mistakes and benefit from them. Leaders who are unable to laugh at their own stupidity will not last long in the management of personnel.

          Retired living has given me a chance to get to know my siblings, something that was not possible when I lived in other places. Fortunately, my two sisters and my brother live within a half mile of my house.

          After many years of being apart, we have learned to enjoy a new relationship as adults. We go out to eat at least once a month and have fun talking about growing up together and about what we have in common now.

          My brother Seth is 63 and still works at a job in the county not far from home. His wife, Pearl, is retired but still works on the cattle farm she and Seth operate.

          I left home for college when Seth was seven years old so we have enjoyed getting to know each other after all those years of being separated except for holiday reunions. I enjoy his company as a man. He is the kind of man any man would enjoy having as a friend. In many ways he reminds me of our dad whom we both admired. Seth has some of the same strong character traits that dad possessed.

          Sisters Neva and Margie are both widows who have demonstrated remarkable courage to carry on beyond the deaths of their husbands. I admire them for the way they have devoted themselves to the service of others.

          My wife says she is pleased to have me out of the house a good deal of the time. She thinks I am easier to live with since I went back to work. Her willingness to put up with me is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

          I realize I am blessed to have the strength to continue working at age 74. I thank God for that and allowing me to discover that retired living can be more fun than I ever imagined.

          Whatever is around the corner is part of the great unknown. I will not allow worry to rob me of the fun I am having now. + + + +