We're taught to stand when any of the Church's leading men enter and leave the room. We provide them with nice cars, nice clothes, first class travel, and bodyguards. We praise and glorify them. We fawn over them, and weep at the opportunity to shake their hands. We leap to their defense should anyone suggest any of this is inappropriate. We consider everything they say as the Voice of God itself, simply by virtue of them having said it. We treat them like kings. The stake president tells us this is justified because "they work really hard" ... but I just don't see how that's relevant.
Anyway, I thought this leap of illogic was limited to our stake president, a man universally regarded as good-hearted and very kind, but one who perhaps didn't always follow strictly logical progression in his thoughts. But yesterday I watched some of this video of Michael Otterson, managing director of the Church's public affairs department, speaking at the recent FAIR Mormon conference, and I was a bit surprised to see him make the same argument. He told of people who would ask him why modern Church officials fly first class, when Christ rode a donkey, and says he responded that Church leaders would be the first to adopt the trans-Atlantic donkey, as soon as it was invented. This artful dodge he followed with his version of the stake president's argument, telling his hearers that Church leaders work really hard.
You know who else worked really hard? King Benjamin. Claiming before his entire kingdom that he had worked "to serve [his people] with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto [him]," he said, "I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne." (Mosiah 2:11,, 14) And the people didn't protest at his claims, suggesting the king wasn't too far from the truth. So he was a king, worked in behalf of his people with all his "might, mind, and strength," and still he labored for his own support, so as not to burden the commoners. I wonder if he'd have accepted a first class trans-Atlantic donkey ticket if someone had had one to offer.