I am certain I would be selling the calling short if I commended the rabbinical role based on the professional functions one gets to perform, and the respect that goes with the title. The satisfactions and honor of being a rabbi go far deeper and in a direction far different from a checklist of professional responsibilities and perks.
The pleasure and privilege of being a rabbi is grounded in our calling to epitomize and pass on our holy tradition. As the cohanim and levi'im (priests and Levites) in the Tanach were meant to be living microcosms of the calling of Israel, so with rabbis. The joys of this calling are proportional to one's love, respect, and awe for the holy legacy which we are called to exemplify and transmit to God's people, Israel. There will be times when the functions we are called to perform seem trivial and trying, thankless and boring. There will even be times when congregational and denominational politics will blot out the sun for a time. But if one truly loves our holy tradition, the holy books, holy people, holy calling, and of course, the Holy God, all difficulties become by comparison but temporary distractions from something far greater to which one wants constantly to return.
As a rabbi, I appreciate the joy of studying our Scriptures, and the sources of our holy tradition which constitute a barely charted intellectual and spiritual galaxy ever inviting exploration. Right now I am immersed in an intensive program of upgrading my Hebrew fluency, as this enhances delving into our sources and becoming more intimate with the soul of Jewish life and identity, connecting me more deeply than ever to clal Yisrael, God's conventally constituted people of Israel, past, present and future. The joys of this enterprise are more than I can describe. The doorway of Hebrew is something which I have been orbiting all my life, certainly from the time I was ten or eleven and made my first birthday request of my parents: a Hebrew-English dictionary. (They were impressed: and I got the dictionary!) Perhaps even then the calling to be a rabbi was emerging, only to be neglected until mid-life.
Having served as a pulpit rabbi for twenty years, it has been my joy and privilege to lead my congregation in the worship of the True and Living God, while acting as their goad and guide into the marvels and wisdom of our liturgical and ritual traditions. I have benefited greatly from having prepared and delivered as many as 10,000 d'rashot, requiring me to delve constantly into our holy writings. It is drinking from these sources and inviting our people to come and taste of their refreshment that makes it so special to be a rabbi.
Being a rabbi directs one to the riches of our history, our Scriptures, our tradition, our sources and exemplars. Being a rabbi gives one a license to spend time with the Holy King, learning the protocols of His courts, leading others in His service. Could any role be more inviting?
Pirkei Avot reminds us "do not be like servants who serve the master in the expectation of receiving a reward, but be like servants who serve the master without the expectation of receiving a reward, and let the fear of Heaven be upon you."
In the end, the reward of being a rabbi is being a rabbi. And it is more than enough.