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. (John 10:12)
Jesus began this passage in the form of a contrast. “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (v. 11). Jesus substantiated this claim by giving His life on the cross for us, His sheep. In contrast to this is the shiftless hired hand who is more concerned about his wages and his own skin than for the well-being of the flock.
Who is this no account hireling, and how does this illustration apply to us? A hireling can be compared to a pastor or a teacher who is responsible for the care and nurture of those God has assigned to him. The New Testament word is “bishop” (episkopos) meaning superintendent or overseer, and it is used only five times. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). “A bishop then must be blameless,” (2 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7). Jesus is compared to a bishop: “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
The no account hireling, then, would be the pastor or teacher who neglects the responsibility God has given him. Sadly, there are some who have taken on the responsibility for reasons of self-aggrandizement rather than to serve the flock assigned to them by the Good Shepherd. These, when trouble comes, shirk their responsibilities and abandon their post, leaving the flock to fend for themselves, often with devastating outcomes.
As Christians, we are all leaders in one way or another – as teachers, parents, friends, workers – we are all given a sphere of influence. God has given each of us some “sheep” to nurture and defend. Let us not be found negligent in the responsibility God has given us.