Riches of Glory, Vessels of Mercy

Earlier this year an LDS reader of Mormon Coffee left this comment about her visit to an evangelical Christian church service:

“The Annie Moses band (they were very talented)…shared their testimonies of Christ…so did the pastor… But what made it all very irreverent and disingenuous was the simple fact that they were all being PAID to say it. I don’t find testimonies to be compelling when it is your occupation to share it. Any worship service where people get paid offends me to the core because it fundamentally questions sincerity. I am moved much more deeply when someone volunteers their testimony of Christ with no strings attached. It makes for a stronger witness.

Wallet and CoinsI have to ask: Do Mormons find the testimonies of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency “irreverent and disingenuous”? President Monson is a paid employee of the LDS Church (as are all the aforementioned men). If the Christian pastor was “paid” to share his testimony of Christ, then, by the same standard, so are all the top leaders of the LDS Church. According to the LDS Bible dictionary,

“The calling of an apostle is to be a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world…”

Hmmm. It sounds like an LDS apostle’s job — his occupation — is to testify. According to the reasoning quoted above, we must dismiss “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” (which was published to the world by the LDS Church eight years ago) because the sincerity of the men testifying must be fundamentally questioned by virtue of the fact that they were “PAID” to say those things.

I don’t believe this, and I hope you don’t either. A laborer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7). Anyone testifying of Christ has the potential to be sincere or insincere, correct or incorrect, regardless of the source of his or her income; that is why God calls us to discernment (Ephesians 5:6-17).

Having said that, on a recent Sunday at my church the Minnesota Teen Challenge Choir came to sing and share their testimonies of what Christ has done for them. Teen Challenge is a Christian faith-based residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment program. The people at Teen Challenge see lives change everyday through the transforming power and merciful love of Jesus Christ. About thirty of the 400+ residents came — without pay — to glorify God for His goodness toward them (and their loved-ones) in setting them free from self-loathing and slavery to chemical addiction. Their testimonies were compelling. God reached into their lives and rescued them, giving them hope — a reason to live. Though unpolished and unprofessional in their presentation, these people embodied Jeremiah 20:19:

“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”

They could not hold it in! Not so long ago, these people were blind and in utter rebellion against God; but now they see. And they don’t merely see — they live.

They came to my church bowed over in abject poverty; yet they were bursting with abundant riches. They were not paid to testify of Christ, yet their reward was very great. In their brokenness they became vessels of mercy; and now they make known the riches of God’s glory.

Here are just two of the many moving testimonies from the Minnesota Teen Challenge web site. After reading them, if your own testimony becomes a burning fire shut up in your bones, let it out! Tell us what Christ has done in you.

“Hi I’m Nathan. It’s been 2 1⁄2 years since I graduated from Teen Challenge, and my life is a walking miracle. I was abusing alcohol since junior high school and I was a full blown alcoholic by the time I was 19. And I went the full gammet of this addiction. The blackouts, the DWIs, the rollovers, the depression, the suicidal thoughts. I’ve been to psych wards, treatment centers and support groups, but my addiction only got worse. The freedom I was searching for only came when I met Jesus Christ and invited Him to take over in my life. And that has made all the difference. He has given me my life back. I now hold a steady job. I’m active in my local church. I’m involved in one on one street ministry. And I’m living out my Christian faith every day. I’m a walking miracle.”

“Hi, I’m Audrey. For my entire life, I’ve felt unloved and hopeless, until I met Jesus. A victim of sexual abuse and rejection, I spent my childhood looking for love and freedom but in all the wrong places. As a result, I had 25 years of drug abuse, police arrests, jail time, and was in two abusive marriages. When my son drowned, I hit rock bottom. Suicidal, I cried out to God to intervene in my life. I went to Teen Challenge where I found Christ as a personal friend. And even though my life seemed worthless, I gave him everything anyway, and he started putting the pieces back together for me. He’s broken the addictions in my life and he has given me a love and a hope I never had before.”

To God be the glory.

For further reading: God’s Ultimate Purpose: Vessels of Mercy Knowing the Riches of His Glory

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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9 Responses to Riches of Glory, Vessels of Mercy

  1. Anubis says:

    After a little research I found out that all of the 12 3 sit on multiple boards (yes that’s plural) of other companies. I am not sure what their wages for such are but in my own company our board members get 5K a month just for attending two meetings a month.

    Most likely the next post will be a Mormon explaining the “modest living allowance” and “independently wealthy” excuses. One look into most of the LDS prophets backgrounds shows why these arguments will not work.

    Ministers are paid because they have spent their whole lives learning, schooling and dedicating themselves to helping those flocks to Christ. They should be paid as should the Mormon higher ups who dedicate their “time and talents”.

    What I don’t get is why I know what my local church spends on the minister and ministries yet Mormons have no idea what that “Modest living allowance” even is. What this does is “fundamentally questions sincerity” of the 12 3 testimonies when they won’t even disclose finances.


  2. Just for Quix says:

    The polemic against paid ministry is a false problem. But it’s an old and fairly common rhetoric I’ve heard, which I think is a straw man to mask that the LDS Church isn’t nearly as charitable as it seems, nor transparent about its finances.

    Where Mormons can mobilize pretty quickly for a natural disaster, if you find yourself with a personal disaster, the Mormon local lay ministry can move glacially. From the need for a good understanding of doctrine, to being able to present it well during worship, to giving quality counseling, to accessible everyday pastoral guidance, Mormonism is a mixed bag, full of holes. Where Christian congregations usually have dedicated ministry for preaching, for community outreach, special interest, age or gender ministry, for counseling, etc., you never know what you’ll get at a local Ward. While most problems from the LDS model are just annoyances due to a lack of training or availability, some serious problems can happen when Mormon bishops try to teach (LDS) doctrine well, and especially when counseling individuals and couples during crises. When my wife and my marriage almost ended we truly saw the damage that came from an untrained and inflexible bishop, a corporate VP by trade, who was more an “administer” than minister. It was heartbreaking to experience this lack of trained support, though we found help elsewhere. In the aftermath, we asked to attend another ward, even going to the SP, who was similarly inflexible. (Common problem.)

    Yes, problems can crop up in an EV congregation, but the believer can “shop” around for a fit, which is more often a reflection of individual need, than a matter of competence. Pastoral oversight and accountability boards are common, as are background checks and safety protocols for staff and volunteers who handle children and youth services. We know what staff is paid, everywhere money is spent, and have more a personal feeling of ownership and impact when we tithe and volunteer. Liberating!

  3. Ralph says:

    As far as I know, from what I am taught, the Apostles are paid because of their work for the church in a corporate setting, becasue the Prophet is also the president of the body corporate of the church. He is daily making business decisions in running the church’s business side. The same is for the other members of the quorum of the 12. They have given up their careers/jobs to accept this calling but as far as I know they do not have to give up other sources of incomes like being a board member of another company. Question is, which other companies – are they church related? If so what’s wrong with that? Also, do you know for sure that they are getting the same as others in their business level? Or are they getting what they need and that’s their allowance from the church? What I mean by that is that a CEO (in the corporate church body that’s the prophet) can get in the order of hundreds of thousands to millions per year salary, does the prophet (and the apostles) get the same? I think not.
    But when it comes to their priesthood – if they are asked to do a wedding or bless someone or officiate at a meeting, etc, they do not recieve any recompense for it. If they are travelling overseas or across the continent the church pays for their travel and accomodation.
    But the main point the LDS church are making is about those who sponge off their membership. I have no problem with anyone getting paid a reasonable bursement for assisting someone as long as their focus is to assist that person, not the money. There is a Catholic priest who assisted me at university, even though I was not of his faith. He is genuinly not in it for the money, but in the world these days he does need to live on something.

  4. Michael P says:

    Ralph, that is refreshing to hear, as many use paid clergy as an argument against Christianity, and as a point to puff up the Mormon Church. the vast majority of pastors get paid little. Those making a huge living and exposing it for all to see are abusing their privelige, if you ask me, and I would agree with your sentiment. Unfortunately, not all Mormons come across as having the same sentiment, as like I said, most are suspiciois of the idea of paid clergy in general.

  5. bigbear says:

    There are always the extremes to deal with, like say senior pastors of megachurches (but if you look at it corporally, they are overseeing huge numbers) who get a “mint” salary, but on average most ministers don’t get the farm. Most bigger evangelical churches that are good size might pay for a house of the lead minister(the house belongs to the church, not the minister) and they get a salary on top of that. But that is not the norm. The problem with this theory that lds jump on is that for every Joel Osteen out there(which is the one that lds jump on down here in Texas–ironically he recently gave up his salary since his books are doing well), there are probably 50 or so that make very average money for all they do 24/7 and the people they oversee.

  6. Donny says:

    I don’t like this snipe-ing about a paid ministry. LDS don’t have a paid ministry. Anybody who is paid in the Church is paid for administrative functions and not for testifying of Christ.

    But I think something very similar can be said about the ministers in the vast majority of other churches. They testify of Christ out of sincerity and not because they are ‘paid’ to testify of Christ.

    These are all good people (and the exceptions don’t say a thing about the rule). So, let’s not whine about the little bit of financial help (and that’s all it is) that some of them get.

  7. falcon says:

    I robbed other chuches, taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia, they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so. (2 Cor. 11:8-9)

    Do we not have a right to eat and drink? Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own exspense? Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?….the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you? (1 Cor. 9:4-11)

  8. Ronald says:

    So I guess this explains why all the LDS prophets and Apostles are wealthy men. You have to be rich (or decently paid) to live and serve free.

    So in essence a humble person of no means has the opportunity to lead a Christian Church at any level even the top.

    But to be an Apostle or Prophet of the LDS Church you have to be rich or of enough means to support yourself outside the Church.

    Well, all you poor people out there you might as well forget ever getting a calling as an Apostle unless you get off your tuccos and get a better job.

    Only back in Christ’s time was it possible to be of low means and be called to serve as his Apostle.

  9. Ronald says:

    I also must agree with what Just Quix said. I have seen Bishops tell individuals they have problems because they were abused as children (the Bishop in the end was wrong but caused irreparable damage). I have seen a Bishop recommend to a friend on mine to date one the young men in the YS Ward until I was working at the police department and we arrested him for exposing himself on campus. The Bishop knew his problem but decided encouraging him to date unkowing women would be good for him.

    Please dont give the “they are doing their best” line. If we let psychologists and doctors to work unlicensed and not fully trained hpong that they will do their best, is that good enough?

    And the Bishop is theoretically supposed to be helping you with your eternal welfare

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