Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Good Shepherds & Hirelings

13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep, (John 10:13 NKJV).

In Biblical times, being a faithful shepherd meant a willingness to lay one’s life on the line to protect the sheep. Robbers and wild animals, such as wolves and bears were a constant danger. An intimate and mutually beneficial relationship was often formed between shepherd and sheep as they lived together in the countryside for long stretches of time.

Opposite of a good shepherd is the HIRED HAND, or the “hireling.” He is one who does not have actual ownership of the flock, and therefore does not possess a deep love for them. Rather, he works for the wages. Since money is the strongest connection he has with the flock, he is quick to flee when danger arises. When the wolf comes he leaves the sheep and flees, and the flock is scattered (v.12).

The hired hand symbolizes the type of pastors and other church leaders who are really false shepherds. They serve only because they are paid to do so. Or either there is some other self-serving interest such as prestige, power, position, or title. They are like mercenaries, doing ministry not for the love of souls of men or even love of the truth, but for money or carnal ambition. Therefore, they will flee at the first sign of threat to their well-being. They will quit or walk away from the flock when ministry hardships arise. They will look for a way out when frustrated. They will jump to another "job" when a better "offer" is made. Their overriding priority is self-preservation, and the last thing they are willing to do is sacrifice themselves for anyone else.

Speaking to godly pastors, the apostle Peter wrote, “FEED the flock of God, which is among you, TAKING THE OVERSIGHT thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre (money), but of a ready mind” (1 Peter 5:2).

It is a good thing to recognize the difference between the two.