27 Things Rabbis, Priests, and Ministers Won’t Tell You
Religious leaders share embarrassing moments, secret frustrations, and what they’ve learned from years in the cloth.
I am just a regular person
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I get angry when someone cuts me off in traffic. I have kids who disobey me. And yes, I argue with my spouse. Learn some surprising things you never knew about the Pope, too.
When I was a new minister…
…a seasoned minister came into my office. She said, “How’s your day going?” I said, “I am so frustrated. I have the newsletter to work on, my sermon to write, and all these other things to do—but people keep calling with all these interruptions.” She said, “The interruptions are your ministry. The rest is just paperwork.” Regardless of religion, people are the first priority. Read about how this methodist minister came to a rabbi’s rescue.
A lot of us have trouble saying no to other people’s needs
As a result, we work too hard, rarely take vacations or any time off, and can burn out really fast. Several health studies have found that we suffer from higher rates of obesity, hypertension, and arthritis than the average population does. Learn what the other most stressful jobs in America are.
My most embarrassing moment?
I was ill with a high fever during a wedding, got confused, and started to give a funeral homily. Thankfully, they were very forgiving! For some more holy hilarity, check out these real photos of funny church signs.
When I was in seminary, I thought I would have all these profound things to say…
…to someone whose spouse had left him or her or whose child had died. But I’ve learned that what people really want is for you to say, “Oh, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry.” And then sit there and listen.
I used to preach for the kids during a children’s sermon and save the heavier stuff for the parents
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But then I realized that if a seven-year-old does not understand my sermon, neither does his dad. I don’t know if that’s bad news for the dad or good news for the seven-year-old.
Am I always 100 percent sure that God exists? No.
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Every minister I know has a faith life that ebbs and flows. Sometimes we feel really close to God, and sometimes we don’t. But even when God feels distant and abstract, we’re still leading worship.
I’m not always on the clock
If you come to my house for a Super Bowl party, I don’t want to tell your kids Torah stories at halftime. Here are some facts about Passover and why we celebrate it.
If I’m in a smaller congregation, I may wear 15 different hats
On any given day, I may order toilet paper, visit someone in the hospital, and plan for the Sunday service. Last week, I dressed up as Moses for Bible school. I thought to myself, This is a random job. We bet you never knew that these common phrases came from the Bible.
The sexual-abuse scandals have caused such a mistrust of the priesthood
In response, some priests don’t touch anyone at all. I’ve taken the opposite approach. I am always touching people—a light pat on the shoulder, a squeeze of the hand—so if anyone ever accuses me, I’ll have hundreds of people who can say that’s how I am with everyone.