An uncomfortable apparent pattern in the US church is that Church leaders tend to be wealthier than average. I say apparent, since I don’t have any numbers, but this pattern is stark and widespread enough anecdotally that I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s true for the purposes of this post.
Assuming this is the case, why is it? I can think of several reasons people bring up, some of which are more ingrained in church culture than others.
1. Prosperity Gospel Hypothesis
According to this model, since God blesses righteous people temporally, then wealth is seen as a sign of God’s favor, and rich people are not only the financial and social elite, but also happen to be the spiritual elite. It’s usually not stated this crassly, but a version of this idea does seem to float around US Latter-day Saint culture (perhaps especially in those socioeconomic strata for which it is convenient), that ballers at work are ballers in everything in life, including God’s favor.
I personally find this hypothesis to be unpalatable (to put it gently), not only because it conflicts with the spirit and letter of the teachings of the Savior about wealth and social status, but also because the logical corollary is that the desperate family who can’t afford the braces their kid desperately needs somehow brought it upon themselves because of their lack of righteousness.
A softer version of this is that certain virtues are associated with both wealth (hard work, thrift, etc.) and keeping the commandments. I can buy this to a point. For example, if you’re addicted to drugs you are less likely to be wealthy. However, while keeping the commandments might help prevent you from crashing and burning, I don’t see why it would make a difference between, say, a middle class professional existence and a super-millionaire existence. Both require hard work and diligence, and I doubt the super-millionaire money manager works that much more than the freelance plumber.
(For all his other virtues, I did enjoy watching born-on-3rd base Mitt Romney squirm when the fundraiser footage came out, because he basically said the part out loud that is unspoken but we all know is in the back of some people’s minds).
2. Extra Time Hypothesis
Church leadership positions require a lot of time, which independently wealthy people can have more of. However, I don’t really think this carries a lot of explanatory weight, since most leadership positions don’t require you to quit your day job. Besides, if the extra time consideration was a thing we’d also see more wealthy people serving in more time intensive but less glamorous positions like clerk or seminary teacher (although, again anecdotally, I have noticed a correlation between wealth and YW/YW callings, but that might just be my own experience).
The one case where this probably operates is mission presidents. I know that at least in the cases I’m acquainted with the Church specifically inquires about their ability to leave their job for three years without destroying themselves financially, and if you’re recruiting from that sweet spot of people who aren’t quite retired, but are still experienced and are in a position to take a 3-year sabbatical from their job, you’re going to end up with a lot of independently wealthy people (or Church employees), and this makes sense.
3. Wealth as a Marker of Managerial Competence Hypothesis
This is the option that gets my vote. Church leaders are managers as well as spiritual leaders (this is especially true in positions “above” that of bishop that involve less one-on-one pastoral work).
In my work I interact with wealthy business people a lot, and the fact is that selecting on that group is a pretty easy heuristic for selecting people that have a certain threshold of organizational behavioral competence. Of course, a lot if not most of wealth is being in the right place at the right time, and not everybody who is managerially competent is wealthy, but if you’re looking for a shortcut to select a pool potential mission presidents or stake presidents, you could do worse than selecting worthy, faithful members with managerial experience. Managerial competence is clearly not as important as, say, spiritual sensitivity, but it’s harder to find a reasonable proxy for the latter among hundreds of possibilities than it is for more earthly attributes.
That’s not to say that these are ubermensch who are generically competent in everything and succeed in every aspect of their lives (one thing I did appreciate about the Trump presidency is that it very publicly gave lie to that idea), and personally I’m not going to honor them for their business skills (they have their reward), like I would honor somebody’s honesty or charity, but as far as being able to run an effective meeting, motivate disparate individuals on a team, and organize and execute multiple initiatives simultaneously, managerial experience would presumably come in handy. Of course, that’s not to say that management skills are the main thing, but rather one of multiple competencies that would be useful in a church leadership position.
I don’t think it necessary to choose one of these three answers. Perhaps the correct answer is ALL+, these answers plus maybe some factors not yet thought of. The most common word in scripture is AND, perhaps we need to think more in AND mode and less in OR mode.
The Church will be in a better place when the focus returns to calling leaders and shepherds and not managers.
Stephen, for the purposes of your post, who are you counting as a church leader, and what’s your definition of wealthy (for the USA, at least)?
These days I tend to think that calling successful professionals as leaders is usually the right idea. Mostly because I’m really bad in callings that require organizational leadership, and the time commitment would result in a nervous breakdown and bankruptcy, not necessarily in that order.
One of the basic insights of management theory is that sound management requires good leadership, and shepherds are also managers, so I don’t think Old Man’s either/or is a good way to approach this.
How many business managers have anything close to pastoral training? How many are spiritual leaders? There are many categories of educated professionals outside of managerial professions (usually business). Are we talking past each other?
While this may not be the case everywhere, I think that it’s also an oversimplification. All three members of our stake presidency (in a wealthy part of town) are middle class, our bishopric has one wealthy counselor and the others are middle class. Our high council is 1/4 wealthy and the rest middle class, our patriarch is middle class, and the general authority in our neighborhood is middle class. I realize we are just one stake, but I haven’t seen this pattern hold true at any time in my adult life.
While almost all church leaders are required to be managers (of meetings, calendars, staffing, and budgets), probably only a portion of them (hopefully a large portion) are effective as spiritual leaders. I think we call members to be managers (that is the real need), and we hope some of them will also be effective spiritual leaders.
Perhaps church leaders tend to be wealthy because they are chosen by wealthy church leaders who are looking for people who have time and resources to do a lot of free work.
We must also consider the issue of networking. In order for the church to resolve prejudices or governmental, political, or legislative challenges in the rest of the world, it is also desirable that they manage that environment.
I ‘m not sure I have noticed the difference in management skills of church leaders. I have noticed the caring skills/ sensitivity.
My youth was spent in Scotland. My father was a building supervisor, and the church provided housing and a single cab pickup with a canvas cover over the back an Austin A55. We were considered better off than most local members many didn’t have cars.
David B Haight came as mission pres while we were there. Mission Presidents usually had the biggest general motors car but pres Haight had a Jaguar. That’s the impact he made. I was shocked when such a pridefull man was called as an Apostle.
We have just had a federal election here. Our new Prime Minister was raised in council house by a single mother, has an italian name Albanese, a degree in economics. Not wealthy. You can become PM in Australia without being wealthy.
I think Church leaders who call people to serve in leadership positions tend to look on wealth as an outward sign of having received God‘s approbation. It is refreshing when the humble people of the world (speaking secularly) are called to Church leadership positions, but it doesn’t happen often. We sometimes refer to ourselves tongue-in-cheek as The Church of Jesus Christ of Very Successful Saints.
I am a committed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and try to follow its leaders. However, I don‘t have much patience for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Incorporated.
Christ focused in ministering to the poor and outcast, the marginalized.
I also think that wealth also often equals an enhanced status which puts them on the radar for callings in the first place. Perhaps they see the amount of tithing that comes through and it triggers?
Frankly, I’m just glad that there are folks who have the commitment and means to serves as leaders. It’s not likely that I’ll ever be able to serve in those kinds of positions.
There was a time–40+ years ago–when I thought I was going to marry a particular girl from my ward. She was a real go-getter. Fortunately (for the both of us) she chose to marry another guy. And since they’ve been married he has served as a bishop, a counsellor in the stake presidency, a mission president, and is now currently serving as a stake president–I believe.
As I look back, I’m glad that good sister had the wisdom to choose the other guy. They have the talent, means, and spiritual commitment, required to serve in those kinds of positions. Whereas I was the best primary pianist you ever saw. And my angelic wife is happy to serve within the more narrow parameters that my condition imposes upon us (though she could’ve had her pick–let me tell ya).
So anyway, the gospel net gathers all kinds. And I’m grateful for those “kinds” who have the gift to lead and manage and who tirelessly do so for the sake of the Kingdom–whilst folks like my sweet wife and I (beauty and the beast–literally) work tirelessly just trying to manage the affairs of our sweet little asylum–uh, home, that is.
Old Man: Long, Slow, Deliberate Clapping. Well said, Sir. Well said. Personally, I view the corporate culture (behavioral and management style) to be a cancer within the organization; and one that people are turning away from – in search of greater spiritual healing and inner peace. My compliments to you for speaking your mind.
Church leaders tend to be wealthy because we worship wealth.
About the “tithing coming through”…. even our middle-class family pays tithing with appreciated mutual fund shares, donated directly through our brokerage company with a receipt from the Donations In Kind office in SLC. So our stake and ward leaders have no idea about the amount of tithing donations, and I think this would be even more common among wealthy people.
I agree with you, Stephen, that #3 may be a major driving factor. There are a lot of administrative demands on our leaders. Honestly I’m not sure the way we organize administratively is the best way. I think there could be some advantages in separating some of the administrative jobs from the pastoral structure of the church.
If you do a word search in the Book of Mormon for “prosper” and its derivatives, you can pretty quickly identify all the times when the text says the people are prospering because of their righteousness. And then you can read the surrounding descriptions to see what the Book of Mormon means by “prosper.” You’ll find that wealth isn’t even in the top three things mentioned most frequently, and when it is mentioned, it’s usually as the reason the people’s righteousness and prosperity ended. So no, we don’t worship wealth.
Also, it’s a collective promise, not an individual one. Nowhere does the Book of Mormon say that Church members who are more righteous than others will be more wealthy; nor is there any mention of any of its famously righteous individuals being wealthy. (Unless you count Amulek being wealthy before his conversion–at which point he lost his wealth.) The closest it comes is in Alma 1 where it says that Church members became more wealthy than the wicked, but this is attributed to their “steadiness” rather than divine intervention. This is consistent with “the softer version” of hypothesis #1 mentioned in the OP.
On the other hand, it’s pretty useful for a Bishop to already know the value of a meeting agenda, or how to assign tasks to others and follow up on them. Our society values those same abilities and rewards them handsomely, so people who have them are more likely to be wealthy. I cast my vote for hypothesis #3. (In fact I think our society overvalues leadership ability–but it’s the people in leadership positions who decide what will be valued and rewarded.)
A corollary: if Bishops (and other leaders) are chosen for their leadership abilities, then we really need to give up on the idea that the Bishop is the most righteous person in the ward. Yes, they need a certain level of righteousness and spirituality, and the more the better. But they are generally chosen because they have the particular talents and abilities that will make them good at their callings, just like Sunday School Teachers or Choir Directors–all of which are equally valuable in the Lord’s eyes.
(Of course, sometimes people are chosen for callings despite their lack of ability. Alma the Younger was a terrible military leader: in his first battle he attacked his enemies on terrain that gave them the advantage and took heavy casualties, and in his second he let his army be ambushed while divided by the river Sidon. I suspect his performance was what prompted the Nephites to create the office of Chief Captain. But Alma won anyway. Sometimes the Lord sends a Captain Moroni; sometimes he makes up for the weaknesses of the people he does send by performing more miracles.)
Where I live there are a lot of educators in church leadership, so there’s that.
Leaders do tend to be more wealthy than average. They are always chosen in part based on their financial worthiness. Mormons used to be openly taught that if they paid a full tithe they would benefit financially. I think they are still taught this but in a more subdued way today. Mormons equate wealth and financial success with worthiness and goodness. Mormons will never follow a man who seems to be a failure or unaccomplished. You could be the best brick layer in the world and no one would respect you but if you own the construction company they will honor you.
“For example, if you’re addicted to drugs you are less likely to be wealthy.” Clearly you are unfamiliar with the worlds of high finance, media and entertainment, and socialites.
I noticed you didn’t include a category about revelation. Interesting.
Our SP and High council (15 top males in the stake) includes 6 that work together at the same brokerage firm. It’s much easier to be inspired to call those you know into positions than those you don’t know. With limited time each day, we get to know those in our immediate sphere of influence. Hence wealthy people calling wealthy people. Plain and simple.
For all of God’s children, as long as they have the desire to establish Zion in their hearts, there will be a place to serve according to the gifts that God gives. I feel happy about it. The level of service in the neighborhood is great, spiritually much more strengthening because you feel that you can attend to the other children of God one by one.
Stake service can also be one-on-one, albeit strengthening unit leaders.
I am left with that vision of the Church, and with that (more romantic) experience, as in the New Testament when Jesus or the first Apostles were there.
There’s more to it than may meet the eye. Upper church callings from Bishop on up in this country pretty much require you to be available on Sundays. This means you aren’t probably working the night shift at the local 7-11. It also requires that you are married. And, usually but not always, there is greater stock in someone who is at least around middle age or older with experience in other church callings. As one gets oldrr they get wiser, more skilled and dependable and thus make more money. When you add those things together you are going to generally end up with more individuals who are at least middle income or higher based on odds alone. You don’t run into very many married males in their middle age who work a normal Mon- Fri job who have had multiple callings in their wards/stakes who are poor and jumping from low ncome job to low income job like college aged couples ad newlyweds. So, I don’t really believe income really comes into play as a filter criteria in leaders getting upper church callings. The odds are overwhelmingly such that a middle aged married male who attends church and has had many church callings is also going to be middle income or higher.
Hi all, sorry for the delay in responding:
Tom Tomeny: I’m sure there are real-life representative examples for all 3 of these.
Old Man: Ideally you’d want both.
Jonathan Green: I’d probably say bishop on up, with the correlation getting stronger the higher up you go. However, you make a very good point that this might not be true for non-US leadership.
Beau: Yes, I’m sure there are many examples where this is not true, but I’d be willing to bet quite a bit that if you ran the numbers we’d find that on average Church leaders are more likely to be wealthy than their counterparts.
Ji: Hopefully we’d have both, since spiritual sensitivity is more important than managerial skills.
Naismith: I agree that, the way tithing is done now, in many cases it’s hard to know how much individual members make based on tithing receipts, but conspicuous consumption is a thing, and even without tithing receipts and conspicuous consumption people generally know who the wealthy people are in the ward.
E: I think the Church agrees, which is why we’ve seen a shift to off-load the administrative burdens from the bishop so that he can focus on his pastoral role.
RLD: Very insightful exegesis; I hadn’t realized that point about “prospering” on the BoM. I also very much agree with the corollary, and I think this plays into Jack and Jonathan’s comments about the Lord needing different kinds, so having a calling isn’t necessarily a marker that you have a higher spirituality score than any other male in the ward.
James York: I’d disagree with some of the generalizations, but yes, I think those attitudes are found in the culture.
Chadwick: Good point re drugs; some drug addictions are such that one can maintain the veneer of functionality. Yes, networks are a thing too.
Frank S, part II: Agreed!
Rob: I agree that all of those things tend to get you to middle class, but I do think the number of upper-class leaders isn’t quite explainable by filtering on the basic characteristics you list.
Our current stake presidency is probably the lowest income presidency in a great many years that I have had or am aware of in the local area. 2 of the 3 are not high level business types, and the third is an executive, but at a low margin business which likely does not pay a huge amount like some other local companies would. While no bishops are poor, that I know of, ours is a skilled mechanic who does well, but is nowhere near rich. His wife has worked for years because their kids are older and they want to retire before age 70. Several people in our ward think he will be the next stake president.
Many other presidency members that I know in neighboring stakes are high level business executives, or doctors. One SP has the corner office downtown as a VP of a big corporation. The local bishops are not near the richest men in the ward for the most part. Only 1 of the 8 current or most recent bishops around here would be close to the wealthiest in the ward. For all bishops, there seems to be a minimum level of time, organizational ability, plus spiritual/inspirational insight.
One of my former Bishops was a UPS driver.
I have been reading your comments here and at W&T’s for some months now. It seems that your lived experience is in most cases, in direct contrast to the norm lived by the majority of commenters. Assuming you are being truthful, I would assert that you are such an outlier, that you would be better served by acknowledging that fact, and instead of trying to convince others that your observations are the “truth”, listening to, learning from and empathizing with others.
@ Robert: He’s different from the average person who comments in the bloggernacle; however, bloggernacle commentators as a group probably aren’t representative of the Church in general. Outliers should welcome, or else it just becomes boring.
Jack– like Robert, I’ve been reading your comments here for some time, and I’ve very much appreciated them. Please continue to share your observations.
Echo others’ appreciation of Jack’s comments. I enjoy reading what he writes. We as a Church are better served when others do NOT attempt to enforce their version of boundary maintenance on others. I much prefer a respectful, civil exchange of ideas than trying to marginalize people with whom we disagree.
Interesting comments about leaders across wards and stakes from commenters. I live on the East Coast in a prosperous area but could not tell you who is on our high council or who any of the other bishops in our stake are. We are kind of spread out so I don’t interact with folks from other wards very much and could not care less to know or figure out where they work/career and guess about income levels when we do occasionally gather (youth events, stake conference etc.). I’m amazed at how some of the commenters can track this information about other stake members. I would gently suggest there are far more interesting and productive ways to spend time and attention. Perhaps the Phillies, for example. We all know Brother Bryce Harper makes a lot of money (earns every penny) so I guess he’s on a leadership track in whatever ward or stake where he lives, right?
Besides, one big lesson from the Pandemic, at least to me, is stake auxiliaries are largely unnecessary and a waste of time. We didn’t have stake conference for 2 years and judging by the tiny numbers who attended the recent SC after two years, it seems upwards of 90% of our stake didn’t miss it. (I didn’t.) Did anyone miss or suffer from the lack of stake training during the Pandemic? Hardly. Abolish stakes and we eliminate a layer of wealthy leadership and the Church would continue apace, imo.
I’m sorry I don’t have much substantive to add beyond the fact I don’t track the income of my ward leaders; don’t track stake leaders at all, much less by income or wealth; and, am dubious there is any connection between income and church leadership abilities. If the OP’s premise is true, I also wonder why that is the case.
There is obviously a nepotism connection with SLC based callings like General Authorities, Presidents of Church Schools, and even Apostles. That is really indisputable and interesting. How Church leaders at that level end up wealthy, as rumored, is also curious. Some are wealthy when called but there are as many who come from modest backgrounds and end up wealthy.
rb: “We all know Brother Bryce Harper makes a lot of money (earns every penny) so I guess he’s on a leadership track in whatever ward or stake where he lives, right?”
You make a good point. There are some well-to-do folks in the church who — for all the good they do — aren’t likely to be called into high ranking positions. It’s a matter of personal disposition as well as financial stability (or anything else for that matter) that keeps future candidates on the radar.
Robert, yes–I’m the real McCoy. I was much more of an outlier over at W&T than I am here, though. Orthodoxy doesn’t mix as well over there as it does here–here they’re just conservative enough to put with me. :D
Et al, thank you for your kind comments. I, too, appreciate the broad range of insights and opinions that are shared here at T&S.
I wanted to add–my former bishop was one of those career UPS drivers. He worked there for 30 years–as I remember. When he retired (about ten years ago) he was probably making about 60k a year–plus he had a good retirement package. Not bad for a delivery driver.
But that’s the way it is at UPS; they have some good incentives to keep people employed for long periods of time. The down side is–my bishop’s knees were about to stop functioning at about the time of his retirement.
So, anyway, it wasn’t like he was delivering pizzas in his own ramshackle automobile.
Oh, and just to spice things up a bit–in my previous ward the *Relief Society president* was a UPS driver. And single!
I’m not kidding.
Dale Murphy became a bishop, and not long after, a mission president, after he retired from baseball.
It has been rare in my nineteen and a half years in my current ward, not for there to be two lawyers in the bishopric. And we just now have a bishop who doesn’t live in the “rich” corner of the ward.
Probably because they manage their finances and overall life situation sensibly well is my guess.
They need to have good judgment and sense.
Stake pres is a nurse & bishop runs a small landscaping business, SE USA ????
Sorry that shrugging emoji appeared as multiple question marks. New to this
I agree with Old Man, Lily and LHL. We need wise sages, not middle managers. Leaders should be lighting flames of the spirit, not just organizing the wagon train. I think we conflate wagon captains with pastors.
Spiritual wisdom should be the primary requirement.
To those who say leaders should possesses the golden trifecta of wealth, management experience and spirituality, I’d argue that “corporate ethics” is an oxymoron and spiritual/business titans are rare if not extinct breeds.
Mortimer, I agree (generally) that spiritual leaders should be about the business of saving souls. Even so, I think anyone in a leadership position should be willing to do whatever is expedient in the moment for the betterment of all involved. And if that means taking a moment to rake the latrine then that’s no less edifying (to the group) than preaching a sermon, IMO.
That said, it shouldn’t really matter what the leaders of the church look like so long as they’re about the business of the Kingdom–in a way that is pleasing to the powers that be. And if that means that they look like corporate America in some instances–so be it. In other instances they may look like the western academy–but whatever aspect of the culture that they seem to reflect–or even project–is only incidental to the work at hand.
What’s important is that they take up their cross and go where the work takes them.
You have a good point, we do whatever is expedient to build the kingdom. At the same time, isn’t it odd that the good lord made a great diversity of people with a myriad of talents, and we dismiss everyone who doesn’t conform to this narrow class-based quantitative-focused profession? Doesn’t it kinda make you scratch your head thinking about the push-back Jesus, a day laborer/carpenter, made to the corrupt business class and church bureaucrats of his day? Doesn’t it make sense that then he would work through a nearly illiterate plow-boy prophet to usher in the dispensation,? Then he wants to work solely through the upper-class business elite?
The wisest people I have ever met- the people who touch the divine and who most keenly observe life’s lessons are artists- musicians, painters, sculptors, and writers. Yet, despite the rare instances cited in this thread, lds leaders are almost exclusively wealthy business guys. Who was the last professional musician apostle? Painter? Playwright? Farmer?
I don’t think the Lord has been favoring bean-counters and private equity brokers because his priority has been accumulating wealth and operating ministering with the latest agile/lean principles. I think we have a massive blind spot and bias that (as proven by most of the comments and rationales here) that we just can’t shake. Just look at the subordinate church roles of stay-at-home-dads and other less-GA-look-alike brethren.
I wonder if
Mortimer, I agree that the gospel net gathers all kinds–and that there are wonderfully spiritual folks from every walk of life. But being a composer myself (and a stay at home dad!) I’m of the opinion that most artist types are not made of the stuff it takes to lead a large religious organization in today’s world–my personal opinion of course. That’s not to say, however, that their offerings are any less valuable to the Kingdom. IMO, one of the great benefits of diversity in the church is that all may benefit from the wide array of gifts and talents that are found among the saints collectively. All are edified–whether it be by a widow’s testimony to her kin or King Benjamin’s great oration to the church; whether it be a child singing a primary song at family home evening or the Tabernacle Choir performing at general conference. All sincere offerings ascend to the eyes and ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
Frankly, the fact that you were humble enough to say “not me” qualifies you in a way that a snazzy MBA could never aspire.
Agree. Everyone’s unique talents are important wherever they are, but my point is that we need more diversity in the top ranks, because the homogeneity is unhealthy. They say that if you are a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. We have too many hammers and our problems are much more diverse than nails. The solution isn’t another white business guy from the inter mountain west who has multiple generations of nepotism in church leadership.
I’m saying – artists are on the avant- grade of political and social movements. Great art requires tremendous intelligence- and that intelligence coupled with the lessons of art enable the artist to pivot into great responsibility. Artists move people with impact and feeling, wherever they are. Leadership programs and MBAs study artists to imitate their magic. So I respectfully disagree, artists are the best leaders. Maybe they aren’t the bean counters, but there are 26 floors of cubicles at the church office building to run LDS.corp. We need thought and movement leaders.
Point in case. Valadimir Zelenskyy. Actor, writer, comedian. Ukraine’s brave leader. Most revered speaker and icon since Churchill. Not a bean counter.
Vaclav Havel, beloved playwright president of Czechoslovakia that led the country in the peaceful Velvet Revolution (‘89). Imprisoned for many years like Nelson Mandela, he remains an international beacon of values and independence. Not a bean counter.
Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, and many other respected leaders come from the ranks of artisans. They inspire me more than the bean counters.
Enough bean counters.
Thanks, Mortimer, for your charitable response.
“The solution isn’t another white business guy from the inter mountain west who has multiple generations of nepotism in church leadership.”
Unless it is. :D
I admit that I err on the side of optimism when it comes to the things of the Kingdom. I believe that the Holy Ghost is at work in the church–and that the majority of callings are issued by virtue of the spirit of revelation.
Of course, that’s not to say that we don’t fall prey to our own biases–of course we do. We have to work at not getting caught in that snare–and we don’t always succeed. But, generally speaking, I think we tend to call the right people to action at the right time in the church.
And so, I’m of the opinion that if the spirit is alive and well in the church — regardless of our deficiencies — then the leadership is going to “look” a certain way as a byproduct of inspiration–and I can live with that. Whether they look like bankers today and shamans tomorrow–it’s all the same to me.
Our Tier-1 membership where ‘leaders’ are chosen have one thing in common, generally. They have abundant social skills and are extroverted. This is perpetuated because we call those with whom we are most familiar, they generally come from our friendship/acquaintance group more than the tithing roles, in my observation.
Once you get beyond local leadership, wealth takes on a greater impact on church leadership, generally before you become an A70 you are a Mission President, so your profession or wealth status has to be there for you to step away from a career for 3 years (excepting church employment). So when it comes time to select the A70, you have those who have already been MP, when it comes time to select Temple Presidents, you get those that can step away, and have often already been MP as well. A70s move up to G70.
My last bishop was a very humble man who was a a lower middle income man with a modest house for him and his 5 or was it 6 children. He wasn’t well paid but he had enough for himself and his family and this is in Kansas. I miss my last bishop he was a Shepard of souls humble to a fault and full of faith.. he started helping me in my faith crisis and was compassionate. The bishop in AZ wasn’t middle management he was a modest office worker not a social butterfly he lived in a modest 4 bed ranch cinder block built home that was built in the 50s. He was a modest man of modest means who couldn’t afford alot and needed a new Sunday shirt to cover his belly to be honest. He was a good man and I could tell he was humble as well. I’ve known wealthy men being bishops in Utah and some in the midwest. However it’s not always the case.. so this article and its theories are fascinating.