The discussion below under my post on Kim Clark is evolving toward this topic, which I have wondered about for a long time. During my short stint teaching at the MTC just after my mission, all of the MTC instructors were invited to a meeting with a General Authority. He asked us, “How many of you view your work at the MTC as a calling?” Almost all of the hands in the room were raised.
“It’s not a calling,” he proclaimed. “It’s your job!” I never understood what prompted this instruction, and I was always unclear about what I was supposed to take from it. I remember that my paycheck was limited to 20 hours per week, even though I (and every MTC teacher I knew) routinely worked more than 20 hours per week. Most of us viewed the extra time as a contribution to the missionary effort (we were, after all, a pretty enthusiastic bunch for missionary work), but after this talk I wondered why they didn’t either pay me for all of my work or lighten their expectations.
Since leaving BYU, I have never worked for the Church, except in volunteer positions, but the search for BYU’s new head football coach at the end of last year raised the issue for me again. Former BYU Athletic Director Val Hale wrote about BYU’s attempts to hire a football coach on the cheap:
BYU’s trustees have an expectation that those who work at BYU will make a sacrifice to be there. Most of the faculty and coaches could go elsewhere and make much more money, but they choose to work at BYU for smaller wages. Sacrifice and BYU have been synonymous since the days of Karl G. Maeser in the late 1800s.
Jim Faulconer just expressed a similar sentiment on the Kim Clark thread, observing that “faculty positions at BYU are considered to be something like a calling.”
The decision to portray Church employment as a calling interests me. Is this the “official” view of Church employment, or merely the way that underpaid employees adjust to their circumstances? As Jed asked below, does it mean that Kim Clark did not have a choice? Does this change the workplace environment, and if so, for better or worse? Why would the Church send a General Authority to disabuse MTC teachers of the notion that their teaching jobs were callings?