Is Pastor a “Hired Hand?”

When we use the term “雇工 hired hand”, please be careful with who our Lord Jesus Christ referred to when he compared the “good shepherd” and the “hired hand” in John 10:11ff. The good shepherd is our Lord himself who owns the sheep and died for the sheep. And who is the “hired hand?” He is the guy who runs away when the wolf comes because he cares nothing for the sheep.

The Greek word for “hired hand” is “misthotos,” meaning “one who works for money.” S/he is neither a slave nor an owner, but only a casual labourer with no personal interest in the sheep; they care for their entitlement only.

No pastor in this world is the good shepherd except Jesus; no one can be called “good” except God alone (Mark 10:18). And practically, most churches all over the world employ their pastors. It is better not to use the term “雇工” or “hired hand” to refer to pastors. When we use this term to refer to the pastors, we inevitably put pastors into the context of John 10:11ff. We’ve seen churches using these scriptures to argue from one extreme: pastors should not be paid; otherwise, they become “hired hand” – to another extreme: pastors should give up everything for their sheep, including their life. This association is poor exegesis and hermeneutics.

First of all, pastors are employee of the church. Luke 10:7, 1 Tim 5:18 affirm that pastors is paid by the church. Secondly, the good shepherd who died for the sheep is Jesus Christ himself. No pastor in this world could compare themselves with Jesus’ death on the cross. It is blasphemous to say that pastors have to die for the sheep; only Jesus is qualified to die for our sin. Thirdly, the sheep belongs to Jesus; Jesus owns the sheep. Fourthly, the hired hand that Jesus referred to were the hypocritical religious leaders; who claimed to be shepherd of the flock but instead, they were simply using their position to max their personal interest and gain. Fifthly, churches have neglected the wolf. Who is the wolf?

The wolf is in the church today. They are false prophets (Matt 7:15) – they come to plant a ‘different gospel” in our hearts; e.g. salvation by work (Gal 1:6); they will not spare the flock (Acts 20:29). John 10:10, Jesus says that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. When the wolf appears, the sheep scatter to all direction. They take life away from the church; they bring deadly legalism and moralism into the church; and they preach a “gospel” which is Jesus plus something and they ruin everything; and they tend to make people “do church” instead of make Christians becoming a church.

What should we do about the wolf? What would you do to the wolf?

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