BOOTS ON

This is a lesson in coping, not fixing. Fixing is for God to do. He will help us cope until He does fix things.

Strategies for Coping When You desire to Serve but Cannot

Not long after my fall and the subsequent fracture of my fibula, a friend, who is also an aficionado of wearing western (cowboy) boots as an everyday and only shoe, took me to task for not having my boots on! And right he is! Had I been wearing any of my pairs of trusted boots, I most likely would not have slipped on the wet grass and fallen.

Most of us know the term ‘died with his boots on.’ It is a way of relating how someone kept doing the work they knew to do right up until the Lord called them home. The fellow who ‘dies with his boots on’ is content with life. He always perceived himself useful and respected for his work.

In the great movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” Jimmy Stewart plays Ransom Stoddard in competition with John Wayne as Tom Donophan  for a lovely young woman’s affection. Until Stoddard, a tender-foot new lawyer shows up in the small old-west town, Donophan is the big man, well liked and respected. They vie for the love of Hallie (Vera Miles). Because Stoddard believes in the rule of law not violence, he is forced to face Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) in a show-down. It’s a lopsided duel with Stoddard not sure from which end of the gun the bullet comes out. Stoddard is certain to be killed.  Donophan shoots Valance from the shadows making everyone believe Stoddard was the victor. He won not only Hallie, but a lifetime as Senator in Congress.

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Donophan believed he was without a purpose in life. He existed in self-imposed isolation.

THE LESSON: Don’t believe everything you tell yourself.

Returning for Donophan’s funeral, Ransom and Hallie found him to be a forgotten man, destined for a pauper’s grave. Ransom looks in the coffin and sees Donophan doesn’t have his boots on. The undertaker argues ‘they were almost brand new, almost never worn.’ Ransom demands Donophan’s boots be put back on him.  About to be buried without his boots, Donophan is the image of a man who died believing he had no purpose, useless. Stoddard shared the whole story with the newspaper reporters and they threw it away. An iconic line of the movie is the editor’s response to Stoddard’s request. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

I’ve always worn boots, since my Air Force days and then as a cop. Off-duty it was western boots and they remain my favorite of all shoes. I have probably gone through countless pairs over the years. Most of them eventually became useless, worn out and not good for anything unless you wanted to make a flower garden decoration out of them! Many of them are still lying about in a closet or a hallway. I just can’t get myself to throw them in the trash. Some, sure. Most, I just can’t. Those old boots are retired, their initial job finished.

Because those boots are inanimate objects, they feel no despair over becoming retired and even unusable. In today’s society, however, trauma and stress affect individuals from feelings of a life mission not completed to being pushed away by younger men or women. Some may believe they can do it better and have no need of an older person’s input. The same is true for believers who agonize over ministry unaccomplished because age, infirmity, or simply discrimination have blocked paths for many of these folks. Some studies show over 70 percent of pastors report depression over such stress. (www.charismanews.com) What are some of the causes of our pain over retirement or simply being shut out of a ministry? How can individuals learn to cope?

This is a lesson in coping, not fixing. Fixing is for God to do. He will help us cope until He does fix things.

There are a great many people who find retirement particularly difficult. If their profession was one in which they took a great deal of appropriate pride and it remains part of who they are, then separating from it is not easy. A study by the National Institutes of Health show suicide rates for career police officers are statistically higher for police within five years of retirement suggesting a correlation between suicide decisions and depression based on pending retirement. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) As a retiree, it is important to fight the empathy one feels toward those old boots; to feel like you’re just lying around the closet. Find ways to cope.

Grandkids are a great remedy for such malaise!  Some say they keep you young. I say they keep you alive! In family, the retiree is still needed and, if your family is like mine, you best keep those boots on because you could be rolling out anytime for something   critically important in the moment.

THE LESSON: Family is a great way to make sure you keep your boots on.

If there were western style boots in the first century, no doubt Paul and Timothy would be wearing them or a reasonable facsimile thereof! They were ready for anything at any time. First-responders in first century ministry, Paul and Timothy were the template for today. Remain in ministry, in whatever way it is defined for you, until the Lord calls you home. Even if debilitated, there is still some ministry function; becoming a prayer warrior is one example, through which God will use you.

THE LESSON: Be always ready to do whatever the Lord calls you to do.

There may be those who find no place for your work in a ministry they oversee. This is one of the most difficult hits to take. Even though you are not aware of any trouble between you and the person or a ministry team, to be disregarded is never pleasant. If the doors are closed to you within a group where you desired to work; this can become a serious struggle. As disheartening as it might be; hold true to what you know. Paul wrote to Timothy and advised him to let no-one criticize him for his youth. The reverse can be true. Pray for all those involved in ministry no matter their actions or attitudes toward you. Give grace.

THE LESSON: Be ready in all seasons to give an account for the hope that is within you.

A story is told in Ukraine about why the crosses on Ukrainian believers’ graves are at the feet of the deceased’s plots and not the heads, which may  have a small identifying marker. A reference is made to Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24. He instructed His followers to ‘take up their cross and follow Him’. The belief is that on that day when the dead in Christ are raised with immortal bodies, as they step out of their graves, they will be able to reach down and pull up their cross and follow Him. I have no authoritative source for the story; but it does provide a good analogy for how prepared we are to be… always ready to follow Christ along whatever path He is directing us.

Retirement from a job or profession can be a wonderful new chapter in life. Ministry is not a job description. It is what happens when people who love God allow themselves to be His hands and feet. Everything we do can be ministry if we do it with the right heart. For too long Christians have left Ministry (capital M) to the “professionals.” Today, there is a greater awareness of the intimate connection between loving God and doing what He asks.  If you have made yourself available and then were overlooked, ask God to help you understand His plans and to accept by faith what you cannot understand through reasoning.

The last LESSON for ministry in retirement…

Work when you can, advise only when you’re asked, pray unceasingly and

                                                                                                              keep your boots on!

TAX TIPS – SECURITY ALERT

  
http://www.lifelock.com

Normally, the Ministry Minute is about ministering to others or getting closer to God for yourself so that you can comfort others with the comfort by which you, yourselves, have been comforted… and maybe that is what this is all about. I know some stories of folks who have lost everything by criminals masquerading on-line, sometimes as government officials. At tax time when many people are doing their taxes on-line, it is a very dangerous time, particularly for those who are not ‘computer literate’. If you are having difficulty or you know someone who might struggle or be an easy target for these scam artists, consider it your ministry to help them avoid becoming a victim to this horrible crime. So, with that in mind, I want to share with you about a company in which I believe. They have helped me and I trust that they can help you too. No, I am not a paid endorser, I get only the satisfaction of knowing that maybe this will help some of you if you listen and read carefully.

LifeLock, a company that I trust with all of my personal and business information has some great tips for all those who are concerned with cyber-crime and the identity theft that happens so easily through the computer. At tax time, LifeLock has some expert advice for its members. Here is the introduction they have and I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of their services whenever possible. It is definitely affordable and certainly less expensive than correcting the mess of identity theft, particularly if the bad guys have raised up large amounts of debt for you. Always remember that unless you remove personal information from your computer, such as when you are doing your taxes, leaving that information stored on there is asking someone to steal it from you. We have alerted you before that scams on the internet usually start when someone approaches you on-line and claims to be someone they are not and asks for information. Do not respond to requests for information from someone claiming to be with the IRS or whomever. You make contact with the IRS directly to see if someone is trying to steal your information. www.IRS.gov will get you to where you need to be. Here is what LifeLock has to say, please follow their advice and check them out as a company for your own protection before your retirement dreams become a nightmare.

Tax season is the time of year when people work diligently to fulfill their obligations to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s also when aggressive identity thieves target unsuspecting taxpayers to steal Social Security numbers and fraudulently file tax returns and claim refunds.

Knowing how to manage your sensitive information and identify when you’ve been targeted can help proactively protect your identity.