Christ taught that He was the good shepherd which gives His life for the sheep, however the hireling isn’t concerned about the life of the sheep only his own wages. When the wolf shows up or adversity comes, the hireling leaves the sheep to save his own skin because he was never there to preserve the life of the sheep. Today, we have many hirelings in leadership positions. This is a subject that Christ taught, so it is worthy of consideration. A leader is just a form of a shepherd in that they are leading people somewhere for some purpose. Christ modeled great leadership for everyone that desires to be a leader. For a good leader, the somewhere is always a better place and the purpose is always for the fulfillment of those who follow. Good leaders are essential to life. We need good leaders in homes, in schools, in workplaces, in communities, and in government. Good leaders who are concerned about leading civilization to a better place, where everyone can thrive and be fulfilled. These types of leaders have the heart of the Good Shepherd, a heart filled with love, and as Christ taught, they are few.
35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38 NKJV)
There are some key points in this passage that are worth contemplating which help us identify laborers versus hirelings. The first and most important point is the purpose of the laborer. When Christ saw the people appearing as neglected sheep He was moved with compassion. Compassion is a deep sensation of sorrow stirred by love, at seeing the distress or misfortunes of another. The prayer for laborers or shepherds is for the purpose of serving the compassion of Christ. Any leader not seeking to remedy the distresses and misfortunes that are plaguing people today have not been sent by the Chief Shepherd or the Lord of harvest but is merely a hireling seeking wages for his own gain. Christ warned us to beware of those who come to us masquerading as inspired messengers who are like us and concerned for us but truly have come to serve the god of their belly. He taught that we would know these false prophets or false messengers by their fruit. That means any leader, whether in the church or elsewhere, that isn’t denouncing the heritage of inequality and oppression, corporate greed and profiteering, the prison industrial complex, racism and white supremacy, the blood profits of arms proliferation or any other force facilitating death in society is compromised.
The second and last point I want to speak to out of this passage is the designation to pray for laborers only sent of GOD. In 2 Corinthians 6 , the Apostle Paul cautions us about working with laborers not sent from GOD. Though some parents today may allow anyone to care for their children, our Heavenly Father only selects those that share His love for people. This is yet another way you can identify the laborers sent into the vineyard by GOD versus the hirelings. True laborers only join and affirm other laborers that share the compassion of Christ in the work of the ministry. This is an important discipline because of associations that are made between laborers and the Lord of the harvest. Those who love the Lord desire to bring only honor to His name. Leaders who are compromised will join with corrupt politicians and other special interest groups regardless of their impure motives. Hirelings align themselves with those who will increase their own status and wages, even if it compromises the care of the flock or causes the Lord’s name to be evil spoken of. Though there is false doctrine going about saying we should not judge, Christ admonishes us to use righteous judgement which includes inspecting the fruit of fellow laborers and leaders. We were made children of light in a dark world in order to bring illumination.