Are Christian pastors called of God?
This Mormon doesn’t think so.

According to The Spectrum, a news source out of St. George, Utah, columnist

“Joe Kent Kerby has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in economics, is a former professor and published author, as well as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

From all of these listed qualifications, I can only see one that would have led to the terribly uninformed assertion that began Dr. Kerby’s January 22nd column:

“I believe that for many clergy members, becoming a church minister is essentially equivalent to becoming an accountant, a sales person or a computer technician. This, of course, is backward from the process prescribed by Paul.

“‘And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.’” (Hebrew: 5: 4)” (“LDS condemns taking money for church work”)

In his column Dr. Kerby goes on to make a case for volunteer (unpaid) clergy, such as is found, he says, in the Mormon Church:

“Pastors, known as bishops in the LDS Church, receive no financial compensation for their church service, nor do stake presidents (who preside over bishops) nor do relief society presidents, primary presidents, elders quorum presidents, high priest group leaders, or stake patriarchs. The entire church is administered by saints who serve the Lord without remuneration.”

Wallet and CoinsOf course, it is not completely true to say that “the entire church is administered…without remuneration” since many Mormon Church leaders do receive financial compensation, even if it is “merely” to provide for living expenses and reimbursement for various expenses incurred in carrying out their duties. For information on the idea of paid/unpaid ministry and its spiritual basis, take a look at MRM’s articles, “Mormonism’s Paid Ministry” and “What does ‘unpaid ministry’ look like? A look at the mission presidents handbook.”

Much could be said regarding Dr. Kerby’s assertions about Mormonism’s unpaid administration, but what I want to focus on here is his initial statement:

“…for many clergy members, becoming a church minister is essentially equivalent to becoming an accountant, a sales person or a computer technician. This, of course, is backward from the process prescribed by Paul.”

Reading this, I can’t help but wonder whether Dr. Kerby has ever spoken to a pastor regarding his call to ministry. In the context of Dr. Kerby’s column, he is asserting that men and women often become ministers for the money. Everyone needs a job, after all. And while it may be true that some people become ministers for self-serving reasons, I’ve never met one.

I’ve met a lot of pastors. Almost without exception they have been servants of God who are responding to God’s call on their lives. The very idea of entering into the pastorate because they needed a job would make them cringe.

Consider the words of Pastor Kevin DeYoung as he discusses the ministry:

“I get to serve the God I love and work with the things our God loves most deeply: his word and his church…Above all, the shepherd aims to serve the flock, even at great personal cost to himself. The shepherd is accountable for the sheep as their ‘protector, provider, and guide.’ He must be the type of leader who can rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2) and tenderly carry the nursing ewes (Isaiah 40). ” (Kevin DeYoung, “Embracing a Pastoral Approach”)

“Ask any pastor who really takes his work seriously and he will tell you of the pressures he feels in ministry—people in crisis, people leaving, people coming, people falling through the cracks, people disappointed by the pastor, people disappointing to the pastor. In the midst of this work the pastor is trying to find time for study, prayer, preparation, and family. He’s trying to improve himself, train up new leaders, meet the budget, get to know a few missionaries, champion important program, manage staff, take care of administrative details, provide for deep, accessible worship and preaching, be responsive to new ideas, listen to new concerns, be ready to help when people are in trouble.” (Kevin DeYoung, “Pastoral Pressure and Apostolic Anxiety”)

Retired pastor John Piper wrote “30 Reasons Why It Is a Great Thing to Be a Pastor.” His list includes things like:

1. God is the greatest Reality in the universe. And pastors swim in that sea with ever-replenished joy.

2. Jesus is the greatest Savior, Master, and Friend that ever was or will be. 
And pastors contemplate and commend him every day.

3. The Holy Spirit is the greatest Helper in the world. 
And pastors are driven to have his fullness constantly.

4. The Bible is the greatest book there is. 
And pastors delight to mediate on it day and night.

5. The gospel is the greatest news ever sent. 
And pastors revel in believing it and telling it every day.

And on it goes in this same vein, until number 28. At number 28 Dr. Piper mentions money:

28. Loving money is the great root of countless evils. 
And pastors sever it in their homes and seek its cheerful death in all their flock.

Finally Dr. Piper reaches the end of his list:

30. Lowly servanthood is high greatness. And pastors rejoice to say: He must increase, and I must decrease.

prayerDr. Kerby is way off base when he asserts that the way Christian pastors approach their vocation is “essentially equivalent to becoming an accountant, a sales person or a computer technician.” Becoming a minister of God is recognized within Christianity as a high and holy calling that carries with it great responsibility. Pastor John MacArthur noted that as a pastor:

“I am directly responsible to God for the lives of the people He has given me to shepherd…I have a relationship with my people like that of a shepherd and his sheep. I watch over their souls as one ‘who will give an account’ (Heb. 13:17).” (“Ten Reasons I Am a Pastor”)

Some pastors initially resist God’s call to the ministry. Consider the story of Jason Meyer. He was content to pursue a career as an occupational therapist – until his grandfather asked him to pray and seek God’s leading for his life.

“The ministry idea seemed odd. Nevertheless, he couldn’t shake it. It became a burden to him and he grew desperate for clarity. ‘If you want me to do this, just tell me,’ Jason prayed. As a 19-year-old kid with his whole life ahead of him, he just wanted to be sure he was doing the right thing. He wanted a clear sign. He wanted God to speak. And as he sat in church the next Sunday, God did.

“The pastor preached on the calling of the disciples and at one point in the sermon, having no knowledge of Jason’s quest for clarity, the pastor looked out at the congregation and said there were some present who needed to answer God’s call. Jason, now sitting on his hands and completely undone, whispered, ‘God, I’m yours.’” (“Because God Leads: The Story of Jason Meyer”)

Jason Meyer was eventually called to succeed John Piper as Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He did not take this honor to himself, but humbled himself, as one who was called by God, to give his very life in service and obedience to his Lord.

It might make Mormons feel better about their faith to think of Christian pastors as “hirelings of Satan bent on convincing God’s children to believe in a false gospel” (as the temple ceremony used to depict), but the truth is, Christian pastors love God and love God’s people, and sacrificially give their lives to God’s service.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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16 Responses to Are Christian pastors called of God?
This Mormon doesn’t think so.

  1. Ironman1995 says:

    When I found out about the mission president and read the manual I was shocked especially about the warning they received in not sharing that info. Now since 2011 nothing shocks me anymore about the ONLY true church . Okay maybe throwing a pass on the 1 yard line in a Super Bowl.

  2. Mike R says:

    Mr. Kirby has a Ph.D. ? Great . I think he also must have a degree from his church’s P.R. Dept course on how to speak in public venues — use half truths and carefully worded statements which will snow people .

    Mormon leaders and their use of Heb 5:4 to prove they have been appointed by God to be His exclusive authorized mouthpiece , supervised by Jesus to preach the gospel of salvation , is yet another claim of theirs that has been tested and found wanting .

  3. falcon says:

    Joe Kirby is a fool, an LDS toady. Ph.D. or not, he’s totally clueless. He’s just spitting out LDS talking points that show very little real understanding of Christian ministers. It’s basically a cheap attack to try and puff Mormonism. There, I feel better now!
    You know I expect more from someone who worked his way through a Ph.D. program and was a college professor. But then let me reconsider that. I’ve taught on college campuses as a full or part-time instructor on and off for over thirty years. Getting an earned doctorate from an accredited university takes a certain amount of intelligence and tenacity. However when it comes to matters outside of a person’s area of expertise, they may not be all that “smart”.
    Something happens to LDS folks who function very well in society but lose all rational thought process when it comes to their religion.

    ……………..and Ironman, tread lightly with your football analogy because a certain poster here is on Seahawk suicide watch after yesterdays game; much like I was after the NFL Championship game.

  4. Ironman1995 says:

    Ok Falcon , but its just a game ,not life or death ,hopefully you are joking

  5. Mike R says:

    yes he was joking . I’ve calmed down and can now function normally 🙂

  6. Mike R says:

    The more I think about what Mr Kirby is implying by his statements in his article the more I have to just shake my head , why will Mormons pass on whoppers like this ? Does he really not know about his top leadership and how they live ? Why did he list some lesser church officers and not his apostles ?

    This type of rationale is exhibited in other public venues by Mormons who know better . The use of half truths seems to be mainstay in Mormon proselytizing efforts .

    Thank goodness there are ministries like MRM available to help people with information that affords them the opportunity to evaluate the teachings of the Mormon church hierarchy but also the statements by rank and file members like Mr Kirby .

  7. johnnyboy says:

    Hey kids!

    Hope life has been treating you all well.

    Just had to chime in and say that I would rather have a paid clergy any day of the week than a mormon with a “calling”. Almost every mormon I ever knew despised getting callings. I loved being a primary chorister for as long as I was (over 10 years), but I am a weird fellow. Most people dreaded any type of calling and they usually performed it fairly half-assed (which probably explains why they never would release me!). The only types who “lengthened their stride” were generally men who wanted to move up in the mormon world. I was not one of those people.

    I had two really great bishops in my lifetime as a mormon, but most LDS leaders were all people who either loathed “serving” or they got off on being “in charge”.

    Contrast that to the people I have met who were paid clergy in other christian churches and it was like night and day. These people worked their butts off and the spirit they had was one of true service and fellowship. Not some phony baloney “calling” they were forced into.

  8. Mike R says:

    Johnnyboy, thanks for sharing your past experiences as a LDS , it was interesting .

    Mormon leaders seem to really push hearing directly from God as a way to convince their followers that God is personally directing the preaching work as well as the administration in the church . Considering the claims of authority that Mormon leaders have made I’m not surprised to hear that LDS submit to their leaders’ claimed “calling” to be Jesus’ spokesmen , or how LDS accept what their Bishop tells them is their own calling as rank and file members . This all makes LDS feel unique and would bolster their confidence to believe they’re members of the one true church of Jesus .

    As far as the claims that Mormon leaders have made concerning their exclusive authority to be God’s mouthpiece for these latter days , which is what they try and use Heb 5:4 to prove , but making claims is one thing , passing a vital test recommended by Jesus’ true apostles ( see 1 Jn 4:1 ) is another . Mormon leaders fail the test , so it is prudent to dismiss them as prophets worthy of submitting to , in fact spiritually dangerous to submit to — Mark 13:22-23 .
    The Mormon people have been lulled into a false sense of security — false prophets do that to sincere people .

  9. Rhythm Of The Tides says:

    And if said pastors on a wage were to come cash in hand to City Creek Shopping Center ?

    Whatever Joe.

  10. falcon says:

    ………………and here’s a very important point. Are these guys who serve in the capacity of a “pastor” in the LDS church even qualified for their positions? If we were to list the competencies someone needs to do the assigned job of a pastor, would they meet the standard? Actually the apostle Paul lists the qualifications for leadership in the Christian church. Do any of the Mormon bishops have any training, for example, in the Bible? But this is what happens when a group such as the LDS sect works off an assumption that “revelation” gets the job done or putting someone through a ceremony to receive “priesthood authority” actually has the intended result.

  11. falcon says:

    Here’s a fun fact that folks may or may not be aware of. A local congregation can license their own pastors. What that means is that I could start a church, be named the pastor by the congregation and I’m “licensed”. You see, the government doesn’t get involved in licensing clergy. I’m sure LDS bishops are “licensed”. Now whether or not an LDS bishop or even the pastor of a local independent Christian community church have gone through a formal training program is immaterial. Legally, a person called by their local congregation to serve in the capacity of the pastor is none of the government’s concern.
    Now as to being compensated for the work that is done, the NT is pretty clear that an “ox should not be mussel-ed while tramping down the wheat” or so says the apostle Paul. The Book of Acts also talks about monetary support given to Paul. So whether someone gets paid or not is really immaterial. It’s perfectly permissible although the nuns that taught me, I believe, took the vow of poverty. The interesting thing is that I don’t think any of the teaching nuns held a state teaching license. They had gone through teacher training by their order and many did end-up getting college undergraduate degree and many graduate degrees.
    What else is there to do if your a nun but work for nothing and go to school?

  12. MJP says:

    I once defended a man busted for possession 3 felony levels of marijuana. As part of his defense he told me I should use the fact that he was a licensed pastor. He was able to sign up online in a particular church, I think was the Unity Church or something like that.

    This kid was as dumb as a box of marijuana. But, he was a licensed pastor and did several of his friends weddings!

  13. Mike R says:

    I imagine that people( both LDS and non-LDS ) reading Mr Kirby’s article , and don’t bother to look further into this issue , could walk away thinking that Mormonism is what it claims to be . The fact that some of the popular t.v. preachers today are good at manipulating their followers to give the money they do and abuses by some other preachers/ pastors is nothing new , but it simply can not be used to prove the Mormon ” pastor” ( Bishop) system is the correct N.T. arrangement .

    The Mormon church claims to be the only true flock of Jesus Christ , with the only true gospel of salvation , and the church organization is the prototype of the one that Jesus had established in the first century — allegedly restored 1700 years later by Joseph Smith .
    That is the claim of Mormonism . It is false advertising .

    This issue of a Christian pastor receiving financial support from his flock is not against what the New Testament reveals about christian leaders . But Mormon leaders long ago decided to attack Christian ministers about their receiving financial support . Mormons have been passing on half truths that since their own ” pastors ” are not paid therefore that is a sign they are in the only true church etc .
    But as usual with Mormon claims there is more to the story which is kept away from the spotlight .

    Mormons can peruse the articles MRM has to offer on this issue to see the facts that top Mormon leaders would rather not talk publically about i. e. their receiving ” financial support ” .

  14. falcon says:

    You know this article reminds me of the typical LDS attitude of “Na,na, na, na…..we’re better than you!” It’s so typical of groups that think they have received the new revelation and being the up-to-date group, have all the answers. And that’s the problem because gullible people hop-on-board and get taken for a ride.
    If these LDS “bishops” are purely administrators, then no big deal. The local accountant could handle the tasks. However these guys are basically hearing confessions and handing out tickets to the temple based on their judgement of a candidates worthiness. Mormonism is not only totally off-the-bubble theologically, but they are also more than two standard deviations from the norm when it comes to the culture of the religion.

  15. Mike R says:

    Is’nt it interesting that Mormons will claim that Christian pastors are not true ministers of Christ because they receive financial support from their congregations , when those same rank and file Mormons can’t fully know what their top leaders receive in the way of finances . So are the Mormon
    people as naive and blind as the followers of some T.V. preachers are these days ?

    Mormons want to show that their church is the one true church of Jesus , and one point they use to bolster that claim is to say that the true church must have ” no paid ministry ” . They even try to use some verses in the New Testament to prove this point . But from what I can tell there may be what amounts to word games at play here by how this claim of Mormonism is used to try and convince people they are innocent of ” paid ” ministers while non Mormon church leaders are guilty of violating what the New Testament teaches about this .

    At any rate , people need to look into this and see for themselves . The claims of Mormonism need to be put under the spotlight to see how true they are .
    May the Mormon people start examining their hierarchy today .

  16. MJP says:

    To be fair, I imagine there are some pastors/priests who do this as a vocation not from a calling. It seems logical there would be a few. But the vast majority do it as a calling. They love God and want to serve him.

    I also understand Mormons do receive training to become a leader, but even then, I imagine it is quite different than the training most pastors receiving (unless you are Joel Osteen).

    This is a weak criticism coming from Mormons, and most, when pressed, will admit it.

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