For the last two years I have been teaching preaching to all MDiv students in compressed weeks between September and December. Compressed is the word as students have given their best on Tuesdays, Fridays and some Saturdays (plus online assignments). They have stifled grumbles (mostly) and really given their best. I have been so grateful to the seminary for working out a teaching plan that allowed this intensive teaching so that Carol and I could start to rebuild life in the UK (January to July) each year.
However, some good things need to come to an end. Some of those closest to me are not surprised they have! So, I made the announcement to my faculty colleagues this afternoon that I am retiring from my major teaching role at Northern Seminary this year and marking the end formally some time in March 2014. (I will let you know the date!)
Over the last 14 glorious years the Lord has given me yet another career shift in his service. My 21 years as Baptist pastor in England provided some of the best experiences imaginable as people came to faith and were built up into church community. I shall never forget my times in Blackburn, Lancashire and at St. Andrew's Street Baptist Church, Cambridge. This was living on the front-line for God. My 7 years as Principal of Spurgeon's College dramatically shifted gear and threw me into administration and a different kind of leadership (with limited teaching opportunities that nonetheless prepared me for what was going to happen next).
When Carol and I came to Lombard, Illinois in 2000 for me to take up a newly endowed preaching chair I shifted even more dramatically into full time teaching with all the possibilities for reading, writing and influence in the world of homiletics. It has proved to be the most glorious opportunity which opened up areas that I honestly never imagined possible for me.
I have dubbed this latest news: Retiring from teaching at Northern, but not retiring! In 2014 the Craddock lectures in April and Baylor lectures in September bring me back to the US. Several other preaching commitments already lie ahead. I really want to be useful in the years ahead while being aware of the dangers of going on too long. I have already begun thanking colleagues for sharing this time with me. Carol and I know these next few weeks will be bitter/sweet but we have deep peace that we are doing the right thing. Just to let you know.