A Retired Clergyman Who Hung Around

I am reading Mitch Albom’s little book called “Have a Little Faith,” his story of connecting with two different clergypersons.  One is dying, the other a struggling inner city African American.  One a retired Rabbi, the other a young, energetic Evangelical in the inner city.  It’s an interesting book which I haven’t finished as yet.  (I’m also going through Joseph Ellis’ great book on the life of George Washington, “His Excellency.”) 

What struck me this morning in Albom’s book was his description of his retired Rabbi, “Reb,” and how the Rabbi related to his synagogue charge which he led for 50 years.  Now that’s 17 more than myself at Wayside!  The old Rabbi struggled with where to settle after such a long tenure.  Here’s how Mitch describes in summary the Rabbi’s decision.

The truth is, he could have retired to someplace warm—Florida, Arizona. But that was never for him. He attended a retirees’ convention in Miami once and was perplexed at how many former colleagues he discovered living there.

“Why did you leave your congregations?” he asked.

They said it hurt not to be up on the pulpit or the new clerics didn’t like them hanging around.

The Reb—who often said “ego” was the biggest threat to a clergyman—held no such envy for where he’d once been. Upon retirement, he voluntarily moved out of his large office and into a smaller one. And one Sabbath morning, he left his favorite chair on the dais and took a seat beside his wife in the back row of the sanctuary. The congregation was stunned.

But like John Adams returning to the farm after the presidency, the Reb simply faded back in among the people.           –Mitch Albom, “Have a Little Faith,” p. 58

I liked this.  It reflected many of my own sentiments about being the retired pastor of a congregation I served for 33 years, to which I still live nearby, with children and grandchildren who attend.

Anyway, wanted to share the thoughts.  Again, comments always enjoyed. 

About David Persons

Retired minister who still writes, speaks some, hikes less, and golfs.
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