Word Of The Day: Good Shepherd or Hireling


Word Of The Day: Good Shepherd or Hireling

Word Of The Day: Good Shepherd or HirelingSpeaking to His followers in John 10:11-12 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.” Here we see a comparison of the attitude of two different entities (the good shepherd and a hireling) to the same object (a flock of sheep). Jesus called Himself the good shepherd, and went ahead to tell us one very important thing that differentiates a good shepherd from a hireling – one gives his life for the sheep, the other abandons the sheep in the face of danger. Now, since Jesus is our perfect example we can conclude that all believers are expected to be good shepherds and to manifest the attributes of such. But the sad truth is that many believers manifest the spirit of a hireling, and not that of a good shepherd in the way they handle the things of the Lord.
A hireling is someone who has been hired (employed, taken on, signed up, appointed, engaged, taken into service) by someone else to mind a thing that is not his own. While a shepherd has a sense of attachment to the sheep the hireling sees the sheep as someone else’s property and nothing more than a source of livelihood. That is why the good shepherd would be ready to risk even his life for the sheep while the hireling would abandon the sheep and flee for his life on sighting a wolf. The good shepherd cares so much for the sheep that he knows them (verse 14) but a hireling might not even be able to tell one sheep from the other because he does not really care; all he wants is to be able to do just enough to make the owner pay him at the end of the day.
Now we want to consider the manifestation/operation of the spirit of the good shepherd and that of the spirit of a hireling in the service of the Lord so that we all can identify where we belong and make necessary adjustments. Let us begin with the life of an intercessor. An intercessor who has the spirit of the good shepherd believes that he has a part to play in ensuring that the enemy does not exact upon the people that God has charged him to intercede for and that the son of wickedness does not afflict them (Psalm 89:22); he believes that he has a part to play in ensuring that nothing hinders God’s people from receiving the fulfillment of His promises to them. Because of this he is ready to fast, pray, and sacrifice his sleep and other comforts just to ensure that it is well with the people. He will want to live a righteous life so that God will honor every prayer he offers for the people. He is ready to take risks for the sake of God’s people and even for the salvation of souls and restoration of backsliders. This kind of intercessor weeps because of other people’s pains and he identifies with others in their problems. Whether it is convenient for him or not he will accept burdens that the Lord gives to him and will pray with all his being until there is a breakthrough. If anything goes wrong in the life of any of the brethren, instead of condemning him, the intercessor with the spirit of the good shepherd will want to check his own life to see if he has not been praying well enough.
An intercessor with the spirit of a hireling, on the other hand, does not really care for the people. He “prays” for them because someone is asking him to pray or because he doesn’t want God “the Boss” to “fire” him and look for a replacement. That is the kind of intercessor that will need some days’ notice if there’s going to be a fast, otherwise he will grumble and complain to everyone that cares to listen. You cannot just inform him in the evening that there is a need that suddenly arose in the church and the intercessory group will start a three-day fast the next morning. He needs time to prepare his stomach and his mind for a fast. This kind of intercessor will look for reasons why he cannot attend a prayer vigil, and when he cannot find any and has to attend the vigil he sleeps so deeply that he snores and disturbs those who are there to pray. Paying the price for spiritual eyes that see and ears that hear so that he can be a better intercessor is an expensive exercise he does not want to bother himself with. He also does not want to get involved in praying for people with certain situations because he does not want the devil to come after him because of other people’s problems: he has to protect himself and loved ones from the attacks of retaliatory spirits. If you are an intercessor and you fit into this description you are manifesting the spirit of a hireling instead of that of a good shepherd and you need to do something about it.
Among those who teach in the youth and children’s departments of any church there are also teachers who manifest the spirit of a good shepherd and those with the spirit of a hireling. A teacher with the spirit of the good shepherd sees the children/youth as his own; he takes his time to prayerfully prepare what he will present to them; he prays for the children, desiring to see them grow up to be what God wants them to be. He cares for the children even when neither they nor their parents appreciate what he is doing; even when he meets with difficult, rude parents who talk down on him as if the church pays him for taking care of the children, he still puts his best into the work, overlooking the present insults because his focus is on what both the children and the kingdom of God will gain from what he is doing. He is tolerant and understanding towards the children, correcting them gently and lovingly. This is the type of teacher who will see teenage boys and girls sitting on each other’s laps or touching or hugging each other in an indecent manner and address the situation straightaway. The teacher with the spirit of a hireling is the one that will not remember to pray for the children, and will go to class unprepared (after all they are just children and there’s no need to put too much time aside for them. When they grow they can learn about God with better understanding). This teacher is the one that will complain when babies cry or children do what is normal for them to do because they are just children. He angrily reminds them that their parents are in the adult church enjoying the ministration while he is stuck with them and they cannot even be quiet. What does he expect a three-year-old to do with that information? A youth teacher with the spirit of a hireling will see boys and girls engaging themselves in an unholy manner and pretend that he did not see anything – after all they are not his biological children; all he has to do is teach them what he’s asked to; whether they follow the teaching or not is their headache and not his. Children/youth teacher, you need to ask yourself whether you are manifesting the spirit of the good shepherd or that of a hireling because what you have will ultimately determine whether the work you are doing now will abide or be burnt when tested by fire (1st Corinthians 3:13-15).
What about Sunday school teachers? A good shepherd among them will pray for the students in his class, regularly and promptly attend previews and also take the time to prayerfully prepare on his own for each lesson. He will depend totally on the Holy Spirit to teach the class through him since He alone knows the most effective way to reach out to each member of the class. He will spend time agonizing in prayer for his students because he wants the Word that they learn to bear fruit in their lives and also wants it to be well with them in every aspect of their lives. He answers whatever questions they have and is patient towards both the weak and the strong. A teacher with the spirit of a hireling does not bother to find out why some students are not regular; he does not care whether they understand what they are being taught or not; in fact he is very impatient with those who ask “foolish questions” in class. He cannot afford to pray for the students because he has needs of his own. If they need prayers they should go and meet the pastor or the church intercessory group – his own part is just to teach. He will miss previews at the slightest excuse, and will only prepare his lesson when it is convenient for him to do so. Otherwise, he will go to class unprepared and expect that somehow the lesson will be taught. After all, no inspector is coming to stand behind him to watch him teach.

By Victoria Baiye





Word Of The Day: Good Shepherd or Hireling

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