If I could point to one factor that has altered a significant segment of institutional Christianity and morphed it into an anemic, carnal, and pagan-influenced religion, I would point to the hirelings. Peter warned us of a last days influx of hirelings and other opportunistic individuals coming in to fleece God’s people. In fact, he devoted an entire chapter to these diabolical invaders.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. (2 Peter 2:1-3 NKJV)
Christ mentioned hirelings when He taught His disciples about the difference between shepherds and sheep herders.
But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. (John 10:12-13 NKJV)
In that passage Christ describes the nature of the hireling. The hireling has no vested interest in the sheep. His only concern is that he gets paid for his services. If trouble comes, the hireling simply moves to another pasture. Hirelings that become pastors and secure other positions in church leadership are as the hireling sheep herders. They are not concerned with the spiritual welfare of the people they are charged with leading and ministering to. Hirelings are more concerned with keeping their jobs with all the perks and benefits. They want a safe comfort zone of same-isms with a generous retirement at the end. Some of them retire relatively young and get into another career that is more interesting to them.
It’s not a bad job, so to speak, being the pastor of a church that has been drained of all spirituality. The denominational headquarters sends enough sermons to supply them each month. If they run short, they can always call in a special speaker. The tricky part is getting along with the many different personalities and maintaining a decrepit status quo. They perform weddings, preach funerals, visit hospitals, and dedicate babies, but very few of them have ever personally won a soul to Christ. They seldom pray, and when they do it is only for a few minutes at the most. They are unfamiliar with anointing and have a strong apprehension about conviction. Most of them I have known personally have no visible passion for God. They are more excited about sports and other entertainment. However, when something threatens their comfort zone, they can become quite passionate and vitriolic.
While hirelings do not care for the spiritual welfare of the people they have been hired to minister to, they will become instantly hostile to certain individuals. They seldom fight against the kingdom of darkness. In fact some of them make peace with Satan, his imps and emissaries. They will run when the going gets tough, church strife develops, or it becomes apparent that the church has grown tired of their services. I have witnessed hirelings vacating pastorates simply because a revival somehow miraculously broke out. But when a true shepherd confronts them or simply poses a threat to their comfort zone, they will defend their turf with all the vigor of a mother bear defending its cubs. There is no rationale or logic to their defense because it is based purely on their affinity for the religious kingdom they so depend on. The true shepherd is their mortal enemy. Truth is not their friend. When either manifests, they lash out vehemently to call good, evil while calling evil, good.
During 35 years of following Christ I have met a number of ministers that had suffered the abuse of hirelings in leadership. It is a double blow to most of them. Not only were they unjustly and coldly driven from a pastorate or excommunicated from a denomination, but the ones who performed those evil acts were not even true shepherds. It is one thing to be rebuke by a godly individual and quite another to be attacked and expelled by a hireling. Additionally, many congregations are being abused by hirelings and most people do not realize the extent of the abuse. The reason is because the type of abuse, which is the abuse of neglect. The hireling will allow everything harmful to come into the church, but reject everything spiritually helpful. Since he cannot lead a strong spiritual group, his position depends on keeping the people spiritually weak. He must therefore keep them spiritually deprived.
How did the hirelings gain so much control in Christianity? There are several factors that caused the day of the hireling to arrive. First, at some point God called His people to a higher calling, a deeper relationship, to more prayer, stronger faith, and a more powerful witness. Instead of answering that call they succumbed to the offerings of the world system. As technology advanced, they became more attracted to the goings on in the world than the stirrings in God’s kingdom. They failed to inject the next generation with spiritual passion and dedication to God’s will.
Another factor is the vast number of biological Christians. Someone once remarked that God has no grandchildren. Each generation must have its own powerful experience with God. However, a spiritually cold generation produced a generation of biological Christians that have no clue as to what true Christianity is all about. They had no salvation experience, never experienced a deep relationship with God, have never witnessed a great move of God. It is easy to convince a large number of them that the power of God comes through psychology, pagan practices, and even parapsychology. Some of the ones from this generation and the previous one have become convinced that Christianity is powerless without an infusion of beliefs from other religions. Consequently, charlatans and even apostates disguised as Christians found a willing generation to practice their craft upon. At any time of the day one can turn on one of the religious television networks and see these false ones in operation. Another large section of the biological Christian generation is content with liturgy and its spiritual depravity. The majority of them appear to be satisfied with hirelings.
Still another factor is the generation that knew God is getting old and many of them have passed into eternity. It is easy for hirelings to convince their duped followers that the godly elders that remain are deluded misfits that oppose every step of spiritual progress. Those hirelings have now gained control of a considerable fraction of the Christian religion by obscuring the paths the elders hewed out by faith, and trampling their words underfoot. Presently, they flaunt their power in conferences, books, television programs, and on the Internet. Included are the ones who promote the Emergent Church and Contemplative Spirituality, that call for Ecumenism and a merger with Roman Catholicism. They brand truth as heresy and godly works as diabolical activity. Now that the great and final deception has arrived, the final apostasy (which will usher in the Antichrist kingdom) is becoming bloated with deceived people. These same hirelings guard the gates that no clear voice of warning will divert people from disaster. Like the Pharisees before them they are determined to stamp out every visage of truth in the name of God whom they refuse to serve. Their condemnation is their avocation. Their glory is in their shame. Their condemnation will not tarry.
Guard your hearts and minds, people of the Most High God! Dangerous times have arrived. We are in the days of great deception and many deceivers. They lie against established, biblical, truth while they assail those who warn the masses. The hour is too critical to sit under the leadership of a hireling. Get out while you can. All you need is God, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and the commitment to follow Him completely. Don’t worry about offending people. Concern yourself with pleasing God.