To Many Hirelings Not Enough Shepherds

We celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. each January with a day in his honor. We remember his gifts, laud his accomplishments and pay homage to his legacy. But at no time since Martin Luther King Day was established in 1983 has his legacy been in greater jeopardy. This year we need more than a celebration of the past. We need to fight for our future. As I reflect on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I think of all the risks he took. In order to fight for the civil rights, he risked life and limb for justice for all. Dr. King formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with 60 ministers during a time when taking a stand could lead to the loss of finances, as well as the bombing of the church where they served as pastor. Dr. King was a shepherd but today, there's very few pastors but an abundance of hirelings.

The Bible lays out the definitions of both an overseer (under shepherd) and a hireling. John 10:11-13 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 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. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. (KJV).

1 Tim. 3:1-3 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. (NIV).

Titus 1:7-13 Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith. (NIV).

A hireling does not really care about being a watchman, but is more concerned with protecting his reputation, position and income. A true watchman will guard the flock against wolves from within (Acts 20:30) and without (Acts 20:29) no matter the cost to his reputation, position or income.

People often wonder what's wrong with Lumberton. We have a church on every corner but the corner is not changing. As a matter of fact, we have a minister serving as mayor. I've seen so many Saturday morning posts with pictures of Rev. Ben Winston standing at the four way stop, praying for the City of Lumberton. Often times, they include the caption, "what a good man." What does the bible say about praying in the marketplace? Now don't get me wrong, this city needs much prayer but it's problematic when the person that's praying for progress attends meetings every month with every intention of taking us backwards instead of moving forward. You say you want progress but you don't want a police department. You want progress, but you don’t want accountability. You want progress, but you don't want unity; you just want three votes. The biggest problems in Lumberton is tbe coalition of ministers and their unwillingness to call a thing a thing. Dr.King formed the SCLC but in Lumberton, they form the LEDC (Lumberton Economic Development Council) to give each other awards and pad their own pockets. The concern for the people has been replaced by the need for self preservation. One of the biggest attractions to Lumberton, Dirt Cheap, is owned by two ministers. When Dirt Cheap closed, they said the owners raised the rent but I have to wait until Tuesday to find out when the Winston - Ockmond duo took ownership but the Wheels and Deals, LLC has not provided jobs in the community like Dirt Cheap. As a matter of fact, it took jobs from the city. I'm sure they're making money but the City of Lumberton will never know. That's another reason for getting rid of the planning and zoning committee.

The religious leaders of this town has caused a lot of division and they must give an account of their actions. A lot of the bickering and back-biting going on in the churches is because the pastors allow it to persist. Why? Because they are trying to hold on to their income; making them hirelings. Jesus gave the example of a shepherd. He would leave the 99 to go after the 1 but that's not going to happen in this day and age. Let one get out of line and they're not in the clique (yes, I know it's odd to have cliques in the church but it happens), in order to preserve their income, position, etc., they're going to give that one, outspoken member the right-boot of fellowship. They think they're serving in love but it's actually fear. What's causing the citizens of Lumberton to be fearful? Every board meeting results in the loss another essential service. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter ."


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