The Bible teaches us that saving for the future is wise. In the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon tells us to consider the tiny ant and how it prepares for the future.
“Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. Without leader, administrator, or ruler, it prepares provisions in summer, it gathers its food during harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8, CSB)
As we study Scriptures’ teaching on savings, we learn that there will be times of abundance and times of scarcity, and we are wise to save during times of abundance for times of scarcity.
Pastors sometimes approach the retirement conversation with hesitancy, often because they know they are unprepared. If that is you, allow me to encourage you to set up a retirement account and start preparing for the future. There are several reasons why pastors need a retirement fund. Here are a few:
1. There will come a time when you can no longer work for income. I have met several pastors who say they plan to work until they die. They want their last breath taken behind the pulpit of a church they love while exegeting a passage of Scripture. Unfortunately, this particular scenario is unlikely to materialize. Health and personnel committees often have significant influence on how long a pastor can remain on a church’s payroll. Like every other worker, pastors should assume that there will come a day when they are no longer able to work for income.
2. You don’t want to be a financial burden on your children. Today, many adults find themselves as a part of the sandwich generation, being financially responsible for both their kids and their parents. No parent wants to be a financial burden on their adult children. But for those who choose to postpone or even forgo retirement savings, they may find themselves being financially taken care of by their adult children. Pastors are no different. Unless they set aside money for the future, they run the possibility of relying on their children for financial support. This is why one of the best ways to help your children’s financial future is to prepare for your own financial future.
3. You want to lead by example. The Bible tells us that saving for the future is wise. When pastors save for retirement, they are leading the way for their congregation. And you are better able to teach on what God has said about this simple but disciplined act of stewardship.
4. You want your retirement years to be the most generous, fruitful ministry years of your life. When a conversation centers on retirement, often images of beaches, golf courses, and never-ending leisure fill our minds. The world teaches that retirement is a time for indulgence and self-centeredness. But the Bible never teaches such a thing. For a Christian, retirement planning is simply planning for that moment when your paycheck stops, when you are no longer working for income. Beaches, golf courses, and leisure are not wrong on their own, but for a Christian, they are not the reason for the last quarter of our lives. God’s mission is. And retirement can be some of the most generous, fruitful ministry years of our lives. And this is why pastors and laypeople must prepare for retirement—to find themselves in a place to be free to minister and go for the mission of God freely.
A pastor doesn’t need to save for retirement because, one day, his ministry will end. Ministering, advancing God’s Kingdom can and should continue. A pastor needs to save for retirement because, one day, his paycheck will stop. And he wants to lead by example, not be a financial burden to his kids, and let retirement be the most fruitful ministry years of his life.