Church Administration versus Ministering

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingWhen I was much younger, I was fascinated with the administration of the church. My sister works for the church. She is secretary to an Apostle. That means nothing, really. I only mention it to bring some context to what I am about to write. I love my sister and am proud of her accomplishments. I know the church doesn’t pay much but she has stuck it out all her life.

My Desire to Work for the Church

Around the time I married, nearly thirty-two years ago, I applied for a job with the church in the Information Systems Department. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to work for the church and help with all the technology as it is rolled out throughout the corporation – the institution?” I had a degree in computer programming and a few years’ experience designing database programs.

The Church Responds to My Request

I was surprised when I received a call from Russ Borneman (HR department I think) and Dennis Egget (IS Department) about coming up from California for an Interview. “Sure,” I said. They sent me a round-trip ticket on Western Airlines. I think this was back when the church owned a lot of stock in Western and sat on the board of directors so they got ridiculously low fares.

The Interview – Grilled by the Board

I thought the meeting a little strange. Let me tell you they grilled me. I felt like I was in a police lineup. They put me on a high-backed stool on one side of the room, while a board of about five or six employees from the IS department sat behind a long table on the other side of the room. I must have passed the initial interviews because the rest of the day was spent talking projects.

Objective: Reducing Project Life Cycles

We talked development code, specific assignments and objectives where “new” microcomputer technology could shorten project life-cycles. This was back in 1983. I believe the IBM PC had just been announced. My experience was all in CP/M and dBase coding but it was transferable. When we parted for the day I felt great and thought I had nailed the job. Boy, was I naïve then.

I Move My Family To Salt Lake

Foolishly, I moved my pregnant wife to Salt Lake, went back to the HR department of the church and asked to see Russ.

“What are you doing here?” he said.

“I’m here for the job. You said if I could get to Salt Lake I could start on the projects we talked about.”

He face said it all. It seemed to turn white as a sheet. “I’m so sorry,” he said. We gave the job to the nephew of Brother so and so” – and he named a General Authority. “He applied from another department and we have a policy of promoting from within.”

I Work for Management Systems Corporation

Sensing my disappointment, he cheerfully added, “But why don’t you go down the street to the retail store Management Systems Corporation,” (also owned by the church), “and I’ll put in a good word for you because of your experience with Apple computers. I did and I got the job but it was nowhere near what I needed to support my growing family. Maybe if I were a single guy.

Administration of a World-Wide Church

I told this story many years ago in a previous blog post. I only repeat it here to introduce a topic I’ve been thinking about all day – administration of a world-wide church. I’ve watched with interest as the church has grown in technology over the years. At first, it seemed they were slow to embrace Internet-based applications and anything not dependent on big iron “blue” machines.

The Church Needs and Uses High Tech

“Big Blue” of course is IBM and usually refers to the huge mainframes of yesteryear – the 360’s, 370’s and 390’s. I have no idea what the church uses today, if they still outsource (I doubt it) or if it’s all in-house. I don’t really care. I know they are (or were) big on Novell networks for obvious reasons – made in Provo – and I think they finally got off WordPerfect in the last decade.

Technology in MLS and LDS Tech

I am impressed with the technology of the church today. As a stake clerk I work on MLS every day. I love being able to find answers to just about anything on LDS Tech, a community of other clerks and developers, including many volunteers who give of their time and talent to support the vast and far-flung reaches of the church network. Just think about how it works for a minute.

The Church is Really Like a Bank

By the end of the day each Sunday, any authorized or interested party in the church administration or Church office building knows, to the penny, exactly how much income the church received that day. I am confident there are professional managers whose job it is to trend and forecast the state of contributions each week – and to have a report on some apostle’s desk first thing Monday.

All That Good Money Sitting There Unused

The Church knows exactly where the money is coming from, what areas are feeling the effects of economic downturn and where the fast offerings are being spent. They know exactly how much money is sitting in the missionary funds of each stake – perhaps billions of dollars going unused because many good families pay two years in advance. Others barely make the $400 a month.

Cultural History of the Book of Mormon

If you want to know more about how the church is run at the administrative level, be sure to read the Book of Mammon by Daymon Smith. He’s having a special over the next few months where you can get “The Cultural History of the Book of Mormon” for free, chapter by chapter, via PDF download. I said I was interested in church administration but not so much in our church culture.

Part Two: A Personal Experiencing in Ministering

Now I want to switch gears for a moment. I want to tell you a story about a wonderful spiritual experience I had yesterday (Saturday). I and another High Priest have been home teachers to a returned Mission President for about the last five years. Recently, this good brother contracted cancer. Each time he has a cancer treatment, he has called upon us for a priesthood blessing.

Home Teaching Can Be A Wonderful Thing

He was feeling so good before his last treatment that he felt he could forego the blessing this week. After all, he taught our Gospel Doctrine class just the day before and did a wonderful job. We received a call from his dear wife yesterday (Saturday) asking if we could come and provide a priesthood blessing. Apparently his treatment this week did not go as well as previous visits.

Called Upon to Give a Priesthood Blessing

We were pleased to respond. We alternate blessings with his treatments. He has six total, one every three weeks. I gave the first, my companion last time, so yesterday it was my turn again. Now I have given hundreds, if not thousands of priesthood blessings in my life. Some have been wonderful experiences while some were not efficacious because of a lack of faith somewhere.

Authority Versus Power in The Priesthood

I have been thinking about priesthood blessings a lot over the last few years since I have been introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer. I’ll bet you know what I’m going to say. It is the contention of some that Denver teaches the church is in an apostate condition and has been since the death of Joseph Smith. They claim he teaches the church has no priesthood authority at all.

Don’t Assume What Denver Snuffer Teaches

First of all, I want you to know that Denver does NOT teach that. I specifically wrote about sealing power on my first post about Denver a couple of years ago. He responded that he has never taught the church does not have sealing power. It is his contention that some types of authority or power can only be granted by a voice from heaven. Is that so hard to comprehend?

Being “In the Spirit” While Giving a Blessing

In any event, this is the first blessing I have given since my “episode” with the spirit on my birthday which I wrote about on my previous post. I made a momentous, life-changing decision that, for me – and for my wife – may prove to be a supreme act of sacrifice. I’ve got to tell you my heart has been tender since that day. I have been feeling especially dependent upon the Lord.

Blessing One of the Lord’s Faithful Servants

It was in this state of mind I laid my hands on this faithful returned mission president, former bishop and member of the stake presidency. I know him well and felt honored that he, or rather his faithful wife, had called us to come and give a priesthood blessing. As I sealed the anointing I began to feel something special and sacred that will be difficult to describe but which I’ll try.

Inspiration to Say Something I’d Never Said Before

I acknowledged the priesthood blessing as an act of faith of all in the room. I also acknowledged our dependence on Heavenly Father and his love for us demonstrated through His Son. Then I did something I had never done or said before. I felt impressed to say, “Acting as a conduit for the Lord Jesus Christ, we bless you to receive, through this ministration, virtue into your body.”

The Positive Energy of the Lord – His Virtue

After I said that, I could not speak for several seconds. I felt the love of the Lord for this humble man. I felt the appreciation the Lord had for this man’s years of faithful obedience, sacrifice and service in striving to build the Kingdom of God on the Earth. It was an overwhelming feeling. That is one of the things I miss most about setting people apart when I was in the bishopric.

My Personal Witness of Priesthood Power

There is a real power in the priesthood. It is enabled through our faith and though our desire to say what the Lord would have us say and do what the Lord would have us do. Don’t let anyone ever tell you there is no power in the priesthood. I am a witness that it is real. I know it’s not the ultimate power that comes from having the Lord lay his hands on our heads to confer power.

The Lord Wants Us To Be Conduits Of Virtue

Nevertheless, it is a real power, activated by faith and righteousness. I felt that virtue flow. It was a real sensation. It was a positive and uplifting energy flow that could only have come from the Lord. The Lord is the source of all virtue. It was not because of anything I had done or said. It was because the Lord has virtue to heal and wants His priesthood holders to be His conduits.

The Witness Comes in Exercising The Priesthood

I left that short home teaching visit a sobered and humbled man. Once again, I had received a manifestation from the Lord of his power. It is real. He is real. He is intimately involved in our lives. He wants to bless us. He will bless us according to our faith and righteousness. I am so grateful to be able to exercise the priesthood in behalf of others, especially those I love so much.

Part Three: Stuck in Administration of the Church

Now, my concluding point: Have I ever said how much I dislike Church Administration? I know I said at the beginning of this post how interested I was in church administration when I was a young man. I have had my fill of church administration. I would much rather minister than to administer any day. Why does it seem I’ve been stuck in administrative callings for the past 25 years?

Would Rather Be Teaching, Preaching or Ministering

I would so much rather teach or write or lead a discussion about gospel principles than to go to yet another meeting on how to do a successful stake audit or attend an organization meeting on how to plan a successful meeting or some other inane and basic principle of good planning that any person who has been in the business world or has served a mission knows over and over.

Perhaps As Much As a Year To Get New Job

I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me. I am striving to exercise faith. I know my faith is going to be tried over the next few months. I was surprised in Friday’s senior staff meeting that the CEO announced my resignation and added, “To be effective in one year.” I know I wrote that in the resignation letter but I had every expectation he wanted me out of there as soon as I quit.

Always Wondering How a Entrepreneurial CEO Thinks

Who knows? If I were a CEO, I would want to run my business as efficiently as possible. More to the point, I would want to spend as little money as possible to get the talent I need to run the parts of my business that I don’t understand, don’t have time to understand and don’t want to worry about. I think I’ve given the boss his money’s worth over the past nine years. But now…

Should I Consider Relocating to Utah?

Now it’s time to move on. At 57 years of age. Some people would say I’m done for. Nobody will hire an old man like me. “Overqualified,” they’ll say, code word for “You’re too old and will need too much money.” I know I have my work cut out for me. “Move to Utah,” some of my friends have said. Technology is booming up here.” Ah, yes, the grass is always greener…

We Are All Dependent Upon The Lord

I close with this thought. I love the Lord. I will do anything He asks of me. I have come to the point in my life where I know His voice. I’m not trying to brag. I’m trying to say it’s possible. I know when He speaks to me. I know His promptings. I have not always obeyed and have felt left on my own more times than I want to acknowledge. But I need Him now than I ever have before.

Sacrifice Can Seem Illogical And Unreasonable

Perhaps that’s why he asks us to sacrifice something that is illogical and unreasonable to most people in the world. As I wrote in my last post, what I did went against everything I have always counseled others not to do. Get a job locked down before you quit your present one. But I could not deny the Lord was asking it of me and was pleased with my response. I acted immediately.

Consequences Of Acting Rashly And Impulsively

Carol told me she wanted to respond to some of the comments on the last post and tell how she felt about my decision. Yes, it was rather cold around the house for a couple of days. She had every right to be upset with me. I encouraged her to add to the comments but she declined. She is too busy working her own magic on her blog and promoting her book, now out in paperback.

Thank You For Sharing My Life Online

It’s late and I want to get this posted tonight. I thank each of you who read my ramblings and allow me to share my life online. I’m just a simple Mormon boy coming to grips with a major paradigm shift in my life brought about by the writings of one Denver Snuffer. His books have changed my life. If you haven’t read them, I recommend you do so. You’ll never be the same.

11 thoughts on “Church Administration versus Ministering”

  1. Thank you Tim for your commentary on Priesthood Blessings. I have a testimony of that ” authority to call down the power of heaven”, My husband and I have been members for 6 years. In our first year after my baptism my husband was bit by a brown recluse spider on his ankle. He didn’t do well, he was in the hospital for a month, and everything that comes when one spouse is sick and unable to work.

    Since we were new to the church, we didn’t want to bother anyone with our problems, and we weren’t too familiar with the Home Teaching set up. So after a few Sundays of not attending sacrament, my home teacher called and asked if he could come over and give my husband a priesthood blessing. I really thought that priesthood blessing was a fancy word for saying a prayer over you.So I said sure, if you don’t have anything else to do. Our home teacher was a young doctor in training and he had asked our gospel and principles teacher to come with him, and he had a phobia about hospitals.
    Shortly before they came, my husbands doctors had changed his meds and told him that if there was no drastic change in 24 hrs, then they would consider amputating his leg.

    So they came in, and they asked me and the nurse to gather around my husband and after they had explained what they were about to do, and anointed him and began to pray. It was an awesome experience and looking back on it, we all felt the presence of the holy Spirit in a unique and profound way. It was a great witness to the nurse we invited in our prayer circle. The next day a “specialist” stopped by on grand rounds and looked at my husband’s chart, He changed the meds , ordered more and told my husband that he would be out of the hospital in 24 hrs. He was. There are still some minor side effects, but I have a testimony of the power of the priesthood.

  2. Another great post. This virtue thing has been on my mind for years and I have felt it too pass through me as I have prayed and blesssed another. I am a weak and unworthy minister, but the LORD loves all his children and will forgive us our weaknesses as we “try his works to do.” Your post about ministering vs administering is SO timely, my son spoke with me this morning about this very thing, ministering vs. administering on a 2 year mission. I will send him a link to your post. Thanks Tim

    1. Hi Lynn, I am also learning more and more about virtue and what it really is. I am reminded when the woman with an issue of blood for many years touched the hem of the Master’s garment and was healed. Jesus turned and said, “Who touched me?” He knew virtue had gone out of him because of her faith. That is an amazing story and so is the whole idea that it is by our faith in the virtue of Christ we are healed.

  3. Tim,

    Why do you think that was a demonstration of “priesthood power” and not a demonstration of faith? Throughout the scriptures, it is always faith, and never priesthood, by which blessings and mighty works are done by the power of God, is it not?

    1. Log, you always get me thinking and wanting to respond. You must be a teacher or something. I don’t always have time to respond to everyone’s comments (there are just too many good ones) but you specifically asked something I had not considered.

      You are correct. There was a lot of faith in that home Saturday morning. The four of us each wanted to do the Lord’s will in exercising our faith on this good man’s behalf. The blessing was performed in the name of Jesus Christ.

      What if I had not said “By the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood” – would it have been the same? Don’t you think this good brother would have corrected me or asked me to do it again? Had I not used those words, it would have hindered our faith.

      I’m also going to say you are correct since we know women can command in the name of Jesus Christ just as well as any man can do. They do not require priesthood to do good works or to command devils to leave or to administer in healing arts.

      I just spent the last half hour going through the topical guide, Alma 13, multiple sections on priesthood in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Handbooks. I looked under sick, healing, administering to the sick, oil, anoint, anointing, consecrate and half a dozen other key words.

      The closest thing I could find was D&C 84:20-21

      “Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;”

      This made me think of the example in the New Testament of those who tried to cast out evil spirits without authority. Acts 19:13-16 –

      “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”

      Yet, as I wrote previously, we know women can command in the name of Jesus Christ, so….

      From Chapter 20 of Handbook 2:

      Brethren who perform ordinances and blessings should prepare themselves by living worthily and striving to be guided by the Holy Spirit. They should perform each ordinance or blessing in a dignified manner, making sure it meets the following requirements:

      1. It should be performed in the name of Jesus Christ.

      2. It should be performed by the authority of the priesthood.

      3. It should be performed with any necessary procedures, such as using specified words or using consecrated oil.

      4. It should be authorized by the presiding authority who holds the proper keys (normally the bishop or stake president), if necessary according to the instructions in this chapter.

      1. Tim,

        The manuals say what they say, representing our traditions, but are apparently lacking in justification by reference to the scriptures. In the days of Joseph, when blessing, he would apparently say “in the name of Christ,” and not “by the power and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.” I am not sure when that phrase began being required to be appended to blessings, and I am not sure why.

        Now, it is interesting you bring up the sons of Sceva – the Prophet had this to say about that episode.

        The sign of Peter was to repent & be baptized for the remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost & in no other way is the gift of the Holy Ghost obtained. Their is a difference between the Holy Ghost & the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was Baptized which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the gospel but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost untill after he was Baptized, & had he not taken this sign ordinances upon him the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God would have left him untill he obeyed those ordinances & received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands according to the order of God he could not have healed the sick or command an evil spirit to come out of a man & it obey him, for the spirit might say to him as he did to the sons of Scava [Paul] I know & Christ I know but who are ye. – WJS 92

        The requirement seems not to be priesthood ordination, but the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is given through the baptism by fire, when we have faith in Christ. Which makes sense, since…

        3 Nephi 8
        1 [T]here was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity.

        Which is also stated again modernly…

        D&C 50
        29 And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.

        And I will forgo forging the scriptural chain of reasoning connecting those to these…

        Doctrine and Covenants 68:10
        10 And he that believeth shall be blest with signs following, even as it is written.

        John 14:12
        12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

        and this.

        3 Nephi 7
        21 And it came to pass that the thirty and first year did pass away, and there were but few who were converted unto the Lord; but as many as were converted did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and Spirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed.

        22 And as many as had devils cast out from them, and were healed of their sicknesses and their infirmities, did truly manifest unto the people that they had been wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and had been healed; and they did show forth signs also and did do some miracles among the people.

        Apparently, these believers were converted and visited by the power and spirit of God (which is an apparent reference to the baptism by fire and resultant gift of the Holy Ghost [D&C 5:16]), and were cleansed, every whit, from their iniquities.

        There is an interesting episode which further vitiates the idea that priesthood applies to these kinds of things.

        Mark 9
        38 ¶And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

        39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

        And this man, note well, was explicitly not a follower of “the Brethren,” and had apparently not been ordained by Christ. What shall we make of that?

        I believe it is likely you are correct that had you not included the phrase, the good brother would have corrected you, even though the power and authority of the Melchizedek priesthood is just this.

        D&C 107
        18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—

        19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

        Priesthood authority is also conspicuously absent from this, as well…

        4 Nephi 1:5
        5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

        Just some thoughts.

  4. I too have read Denver’s books….each of them….some several times.

    They have changed my life as well….and provided a needed course correction in my life.

    I’m currently carefully reading and studying Royal Skousens “The Book of Mormon-The Earliest Text”… has been a delightful experience. I’ve paused in Mosiah….to carefully and prayerfully read and re-read chapters in Mosiah. We’ve had some good home evenings with my wife, daughters and a few of the grandchildren discussing verses in Mosiah. Interesting that Denver’s most recent blogs have been about King Benjamin and the brief but ideal society spoken about in Mosiah.

    Thank you for your blog. I enjoy reading…..Provo is a pretty nice place….maybe there is work for you here? 🙂

  5. Paul Yuma Niesen

    I would love to have your devotion in ministering and teaching in the H/P Quorum. Consider it an invitation to move back to Covina!! I would love too renew an old friendship and grow old in the gospel.

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