A Palladin is Worth his Hire

Paladin, Palidin, where do you roam?

Paladin, Palidin, far, far from home.[1]

A paladin was a knight known for heroism and chivalry. The idea of a knight in the frontier West called Paladin was the creation of Sam Rolfe and Herb Meadow, which became one of the top five TV shows in the 1950s. In the first verse of the theme song, which also became a hit single, Paladin was described as a “knight without armor in a savage land.” On the surface, the black clad Paladin was just a high-priced gun-for-hire, but in reality he was a dapper and sophisticated private lawman-for-hire.

His business card read, “Have Gun, Will Travel.” The calling card of an interim pastor should read, “Have Guts, Will Travel.” He too is God’s knight without physical armor sent to various lands to settle disputes and correct wrongs. Like Paladin, the interim is a literate, moral, and courageous man.

Although interim pastors are willing to travel and make house calls, in many cases church leadership considers them too expensive. Money frequently seems to be a problem when a church loses its pastor, especially due to conflict. People, discontented with the old pastor or the present leadership, normally withhold their tithes as a sign of displeasure; some leave the church all together. Hiring an interim is seen as an obstacle to saving funds for the new pastor’s salary and benefit package. And if the old pastor was given a severance, finances become even more of an issue.

Such thinking is wrong, for money should not drive ministry. In fact, money follows ministry and resources are the result of relationships. An interim pastor provides the oversight needed in a hurting church; and his presence normally stops the depletion of funds by solidifying the base and unifying the congregation. When leadership allows finances to defer the need for a paladin, then they demonstrate a low concern for the sheep and allow mammon to control the direction of the church. They also foolishly convince themselves that the church is not that sick; that their struggles are like a winter cold, which will soon go away. Paying a paladin (i.e., a doctor making a house call) is thought too expensive and homeopathic remedies will be applied to the detriment of the health of the congregation.

Jesus said that we cannot serve God and mammon;[2] and God desires shepherds for his sheep, for woe to them who leave the flock unprotected.[3] As Jesus felt compassion for the distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd,[4] leaders should be immediately concerned that their sheep have no lead pastor to tend to their fitness. Refusal to hire a paladin to protect the flock because finances are low and savings must be garnered for the new pastor makes mammon the determining factor in the care of anxious and distraught sheep.

Such a decision does not bode well for the health of the church, for a flock without the lead shepherd will wander and that scattering is laid on the heads of the elders.[5] When the flock is dispersed as a result of conflict or otherwise, they may become prey to others because of a lack of protection. In other words, they may end up sitting under false teachers and absorbing bad doctrine. And when elders do not seek to find them and bring reconciliation to the flock, they will be judged by the Lord.[6] Protecting the sheep is too important to allow the passage of time and the worries of money prevent the hiring of a palladin to shepherd the flock and care for the immediate needs of sheep.

[1] Ballad of Paladin, written by Johnny Western, Richard Boone, & Sam Rolfe; sung by Johnny Western for the TV show, Have Gun Will Travel, which ran from 1957 – 1963 on CBS.

[2] Matthew 6:24

[3] Zechariah 11:17

[4] Matthew 9:36

[5] Jeremiah 23:1

[6] Ezekiel 34:7-11