By Stephen Crotts and Bryan Crotts

He goes by many names. Some call him the vicar, the priest, the minister, others know him as padre, but we like the word pastor, Latin for shepherd. Life as a pastor is not a life in the cheap seats… boring, never growing or being challenged. It is a front-row seat at baptisms, funerals, sermons, weddings— all the important passages of life. It is the best of music, the hard study of critical issues, foreign friends from India and Belarus and beyond. It is the periodic challenge to say goodbye to friends you have known and move to a new city and say hello to a thousand new people. It is turning the cheek, living utterly dependent on providence. It is to know the aged and their wisdom. To know youth and their promise. But best of all, it is a life plumbing the depths of the grace of Jesus Christ. There really is no life quite its rival.

Sadly, there is a looming crisis coming in the clergy. As our culture more and more turns away from God, it makes the pastor’s job all the more difficult.  The long hours, human ills that are emotionally draining, the rejection, slander, human cussedness, lies, and bullying all take their toll on the minister.

Did you know that pastors are more than twice as likely to get depressed as the rest of society? 90% of ministers admit that the pastorate has had a detrimental effect on their marriage and family life.

One minister admitted that a good week is one in which he didn’t want to quit more than twice.

The average age of a pastor in divinity school is 40.  The average length of a pastoral career is only 14 years. That is hardly long enough to know what you’re doing.

Each month 1200 pastors demit the ministry. The reasons they give are varied. Low pay, burnout, moral failures, politics. Only one in ten pastors is able to stay in the ministry until retirement age. And the looming crisis is this: the word of God is becoming rare in our age.

The month of October is Pastor Appreciation Month. And we want to remind you that the worst thing about being a strong pastor is no one ever asks if you are okay. Why not use this month to inquire of your minister as to his well-being. Ask how you can help pray for him; find creative ways to bring encouragement. For we remind you that no one who gives a cup of cool water to one of God’s prophets shall lose his reward.

Rev. Stephen Crotts is a retired minister in Grace Presbytery. Rev. Bryan Crotts is the pastor of First ARP Church in Burlington, NC.

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