Most of us have heard of the Parable of the Good Shepherd in which Our Lord describes the differences between a good shepherd and an hireling. What is usually missed however is its relevance to current paid clergy. Jesus, knowing that His words would be recorded for all time and passed down through the ages often spoke for the benefit of future readers, not current disciples.
He often spoke of future events—for our benefit also—saying there would come false teachers, false apostles, and false prophets. The Parable of the Good Shepherd can be viewed as a prophecy for our time:
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 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.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:1–16)
Most of the time readers do take note of the Good Shepherd and the sheep references but fail to notice the hireling who is being juxtaposed with the Good Shepherd. Whereas Jesus came to know the Father which then allowed Him to have great love for the sheep, even to the point of laying down His life for them, those who enter the ministry for money (because they can’t find other work), or who are staying in the ministry for the money (again, because they can’t find other employment) are like the thieves who know neither the Father nor the Son, and are not doing it out of love; they run when things get tough, e.g. requests for exorcisms, drug interventions, testifying in court, taking into their homes the homeless, etc.