Jump directly to the Content

Hard Job, High Calling

Reports of clergy attrition are often exaggerated, but pastors still face daunting challenges.
Hard Job, High Calling

Gordon Atkinson's decision to leave the ministry didn't come as an epiphany, nor was it a knee-jerk reaction to a particularly contentious church business meeting.

It began with a headache. A migraine. And then some anxiety, followed by its dark twin, depression. On Sunday mornings he started to feel that he'd rather do just about anything than preach another sermon. One day, after someone mentioned that a church doorknob was broken, Atkinson's emotional response was disproportionate: overwhelming despair, as if someone told him the building had to be taken down brick by brick and reassembled across the street. But Atkinson didn't know he'd be leaving until it popped out of his mouth one day in a conversation with a trusted staff member who was describing future plans for the church.

"I'm not going to be here," Atkinson told his colleague, simultaneously surprised by his admission and the realization that it was true. In 2010, after nearly two ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

From the Magazine
How a Mother’s Love Built a School that Can Transform Hearts and Brains
How a Mother’s Love Built a School that Can Transform Hearts and Brains
Jacob’s Ladder challenges special education norms thanks to Amy O’Dell's relentless belief in her son.
Editor's Pick
Pastoral Care Doesn’t Require Capes
Pastoral Care Doesn’t Require Capes
Four practitioners discuss how to minister well without resorting to heroics.