“He commandeth that there shall be no Priestcrafts; for behold priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world, but the seek not the welfare of Zion.” 2 Nephi 26: 29
Being a pastor in Utah can be quite strange at times. One of the most common questions I field after telling someone that I am a pastor, is: “But what do you do for a living?” Many don’t even know what a pastor is. But when I tell them that this is what I do for a living, they look at me with quite a bit of skepticism. In the back of their mind, is this bit about “priestcrafts.” They do believe it is an abomination that one make his living off the gospel, despite what Paul has to say about the matter
“In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:14 (ESV)
Now I can sort of sympathize with this verse in 2 Nephi. I do think it a bit unseemly the amount of money some people make preaching in the name of Christ, and often preaching falsely. I think for every Lutheran there is a degree of scandal when they contemplate the pope wearing Prada. Though we do realize that Christ himself wore a garment so valuable that the soldiers gambled for it rather than cutting it. yet for all this I wonder about their own prophet’s mansion, etc.
No the prophet doesn’t take a salary. Neither did George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Congress agreed to pay for all his personal expenses. They were quick to give him a salary after the war, seeing as an agreement like that can be greatly abused. I guess the moral of the story here is, “if you live in glass houses, don’t throw stones.”
Most of the pastors, especially those that are faithful to the gospel, do indeed make a modest living from the gospel. It is funny that people should hold it suspicious that we do so. I could make a lot more money elsewhere if I wanted. No one I know went into the ministry for the money. I’m extremely happy with my salary, and have no complaints as far as that is concerned. I have a very generous congregation. But seriously, I passed up great opportunities to make lots of money, and took on an extremely high amount of debt to be the pastor of this small flock. And it is not easy work either. Most of it I enjoy. Part of me even enjoys visiting people in the hospital, though I wish they were not there to begin with. I don’t do it for praise. Most often one meets with scorn for preaching God’s word, especially in Utah.
It is also a full time job. And by fulltime I mean full time. Sure, there are weeks when not much happens. I’m on call 24/7. Some weeks I log well over 80 hours. My schedule is flexible, and so some weeks I take off to go chukar hunting in Oregon. When my son is here, office work is at a minimum. But then sometimes he has to take a back seat to my going to visit a dying person in the hospital. Not only can the hours be long. The job can be more than emotionally exhausting.
I read a poem once about a sin eater. We pastors aren’t sin eaters, we don’t consume another’s sin. But sometimes their sins and problems consume us. In Lutheranism us pastors are sometimes called “Seelsorgers”, soul worriers. And that we often are. The things we help our parishioners with sometimes twist our stomachs in knots, and cause our upper backs to be so tied up we wake up in the middle of the night with migraine headaches. We care about our sheep, and the eternal destiny of their souls. The care of their souls have been entrusted to us. A few nights like that, and you realize the futility of even trying a part time job to supplement your income.
Neither would we think of burdening the mourning family with a meeting at 9pm to discuss funeral arrangements. When one of them is sick, we visit. And when the weeks are slow, we study, and prepare. So you can accuse us of Priestcrafts if you like, but realize your beef is with the Bible, and us pastors do work harder than you will ever know seeking the welfare of Zion.