William Barclay’s Wisdom About Retirement

William Barclay’s Wisdom About Retirement

In William Barclay’s book Day by Day, he talks about a time when he was considering retiring as pastor for a church. He writes that he was torn in mind as to whether to stay at his parish or leave to teach. He talked about his indecision to a member of his congregation he admired about it and the man said: "It’s a wise man that kens when tae lay doon the barra" which roughly translated means "It’s a wise man who knows when to lay down the barrow." He says the it is a gift to retire gracefully and refers to John the Baptist who said about Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Of course, one must consider the economics of retirement. As Gene Perret once wrote about it "It’s nice to get out of the rat race, but you have to learn to get along with less cheese." And then there is the vaudeville joke Milton Berle liked to repeat "The company accountant is shy and retiring. He’s shy a quarter of million dollars and that’s why he’s retiring."

As I see it, the key is to figure out when to retire gracefully before retirement becomes involuntary due to health or other circumstances, but it’s not an easy decision to make.

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