Posted by: Joe Palmer | January 31, 2011

Are You a Hireling?


Are You a Hireling?

By Joe Palmer

““I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.”  (John 10:11–13 NKJV)

Preachers, shepherds, youth ministers, Christians are you a hireling?

Now technically i know I am one because I am a paid minister.  But the concept of pay is not the real issue.  The real concern here is motivation, concern, and responsibility.  What is it that motivates you to look after the souls of people?

Jesus used an idea they all understood.  That of a shepherd, and the man the shepherd hires to watch his sheep.

When  the wolf comes the hireling is likely to flee.  Why?  Because they are not his sheep.  He feels no commitment, no obligation, and has no real loss if the flock is destroyed.

The shepherd is very different.  First, he owns the sheep. They are his.  Second, he has cared for the sheep for years and he likely considers some of them dear like we do our pets.  Third, he will suffer great loss if the sheep are destroyed.

The hireling runs. The shepherd fights for his sheep.  Now the concern of the Shepherd doesn’t just end there.  Read the 23rd Psalm.  What does a shepherd do for his sheep?

  • He waters them.
  • He feeds them.
  • He rests them.
  • He doctors them.

The sheep feel comforted just by his very presence.  They know he cares.

So how do I approach my work as a minister, evangelist?  If you are a Shepherd/Pastor, how do you approach that work?  If you are a deacon given responsibility of a work, how do you do it?  If you are a Christian, how much responsibility do we feel to care for our brothers and sisters?

If we don’t feel much we have a hireling’s attitude.   We look around and we see friends and neighbors lost without Christ and we respond by saying that isn’t my responsibility.  We look around and see our brothers and sisters falling away as they are attacked by Satan and we run.  We see sick sheep and we don’t minister to them.  Perhaps like Cain we ask the question , “Am I my brothers keeper.”   Like the man in Luke 10, who was told to “Love his neighbor as himself,” we ask, “Who is my neighbor?”  We are so busy in our own world that we don’t have time to care.  We don’t want to serve. We want a paycheck.  We want recognition.  But we don’t want responsibility.


By Joe Palmer





  1. While stationed in New Mexico, we lived in a small ranching village 20 miles south of Albuquerque. The village was on the edge of the Isleta Indian Reservation and near the Rio Grande River. A member of the church in that village raised sheep and asked me to bottle feed a newborn lamb that needed special care. He brought the lamb to me and she stayed in our back yard with our golden retriever. During the period of time I fed her, Lammy grew to know my voice and would come running when I called her for her bottle. She also would get stuck behind the riding lawn mower time and time again and it was near impossible to get her unstuck. She also enjoyed running with our dog, Jasper. I returned her to her owner when she no longer needed her bottle and I went to check on her often. She always knew my voice even before she saw me. Her owner also informed me that she acted like a dog, not a sheep.

    I learned a few things from raising Lammy. She was really quite helpless and clueless and she needed my constant care and rescuing. She could not figure out how to get herself out of repeated trouble, and would soon go right back to the same stuck place.

    I guess I am a lot like Lammy. If I don’t listen to the voice of my Shepard I tend to get stuck, remain clueless and need Him to rescue me often. His is the only voice that my heart answers to, and He is the One who loves me enough to leave the 99 and come after me…even me.

  2. Great comment Donna

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