Why the Church Needs Faithful Armor Bearers Right Now
Updated: Oct 15
Let’s answer the question why the church needs faithful armor bearers right now.
What is an Armor Bearer Anyway?
Answering the question "what an armor bearer is" can seem a bit complicated. Nothing is further from true. We have a plethora of scriptural examples of these mighty men of God.
Their deeds were both blessed by God, and legendary in the faith. For instance: “Saul liked him very much and David became one of his armor bearers” (1 Samuel 16:21).
In ancient times, an armor bearer was one who carried the shield and armor of his leader. These leaders, usually on their way to battle, did not carry their own armor.
For example, King Saul had several armor bearers. In modern vernacular, associate ministers are sometimes seen as just such men. However, it would be more appropriate to view Deacons in this role (1st Timothy 3).
Here, deacons are mentioned in conjunction with the office of a Shepherd/Pastor:
An Armor Bearer is defined as: "the one carrying the armor of a King or General". As a former United States Marine, I understand the armor of a conventional fighting force well. The armor of a U.S. Marines is, but not limited to:
Kevlar helmet- provides some protection for the head from shrapnel and other objects during a fire fight.
Flak Jacket- serves essentially the same purpose but for the upper torso
Boots- sturdy and meant to cover the feet and provide firm support to the ankles
M-16 A-2 Service Rifle - no explanation needed!
These are just a few of items essential to any Marine performing their duty. The oath we upon entry into the Marine Corps is:
"I, (name of recruit)., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justices so help me God."
This oath was taken seriously. At that time, we were willing to give our lives in defense of this oath strictly for glory’s sake. However, the physical armor described (tools of the trade) were only to assist.
What was more important was the warrior’s willingness to use them. Admittedly, in my beloved corps, we had no such armor bearers. We all marched off to battle carrying our own armor.
Colonels, Generals and other officers, well, that was another story. Spiritually, however, the wrong armor bearers continue to exist in the church because church leaders refuse to speak the Word of God boldly.
Armor Bearers Have Always Existed
There is a much more eternal battle that has been fought in the proceeding fifty-seven (57) centuries of human history. This battle requires armor that serves a spiritual purpose.
One who carried the physical tools of war, for a leader, was essential to the battle effort. All warriors of distinction had such an attendant who served dutifully.
For example, rather than perish by the hand of a woman, Abimelech called upon his armor-bearer to give him the finishing stroke (Judges 9:50-57). Further, when King Saul's armor-bearer refused to kill him (at Saul's request), Saul took a sword and killed himself (1st Samuel 31).
Here is the exact moment this occurred (1st Samuel 31:3-5):
David became Saul's armor-bearer for a time and Jonathan's armor-bearer was a man of resource and courage (1st Samuel 14:1-23).
Nevertheless, in the spiritual realm, we continue to need armor bearers. The Ephesians writer commands us to: "Put on the full armor of God, so that we can stand against the devil's schemes"(Ephesians 6:10-18).
A modern-day armor bearer serves a leader in life, ministry, and the fight of faith. In essence, they attend to, care for, and encourage him.
There are examples of this imperative throughout the Bible:
King David’s Mighty Men (2nd Samuel 23: 8-39)
Elisha for Elijah (1st Kings 19:19-21)
Gehazi for Elisha (2nd Kings 5:20-27)
Joshua for Moses (Numbers 11:28)
Timothy to Paul (2nd Timothy 1:6-8)
Barnabas to Paul (Acts 9:26-27)
Silas to Paul (Acts 16)
All served God called Leaders.
Further, they demonstrated a love for the mission of their leader(s). This trait is sadly lacking among ambitious preachers of today. Yes, today’s associate ministers declare: “I sure love my Pastor/Leader".
But through actions they demonstrate the opposite. It is a fact, and I experienced in a former role, that there are only two types of associate ministers, assistant pastors, etc. Those that are there to assist their leader, and those who plot to take their place.
In my entire time in ministry, I have NEVER EVER met an “indifferent” associate minister. I can’t say that for either Pastors or Sheep.
A Dangerous Armor Bearer
Most desire a pastorate and will do anything to achieve it. Few things work against obedience as does power lust! Pastors often desire a show of loyalty but should always be on the look-out for disloyalty.
We must be wary about being surrounded with the wrong leaders. If they are a ‘bad tree’ they cannot bear ‘good fruit.’ Those are the words of the Holy Bible and not mine. Preventing this should be our top priority.
Church leaders can no longer hide behind: “I am not in the calling business, so if he said God told him to preach, who am I to stand in the way?”
That is not what God's Word teaches!
His word indicates: “try those spirits whether they be of God or not because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1st John 4:1-5).
Refusing to confront false armor bearers result in allowing them a platform where they are most dangerous! Too often, I have seen these un-David like men who sow nothing but discord in the fellowship.
While they bear some blame, the lion’s share go to the leaders who allow them to continue such cancerous behavior.
Armor bearers wreak havoc, while their leaders cower, and hide under the deception "we are not supposed to judge people". In the meantime, and unlike the loyalty David showed Saul, loyalty has been traded in for a demonic lust to overrun the Pastor.
Locally, there was just such a man who eventually replaced a Pastor whom he claimed to serve. Here is the demonic strategy such “hirelings” use.
They arrive as if they desire to assist a leader. Over time, they begin to sow discord in one of two ways. Either they directly start to gossip and cause confusion among the flock or they listen when they should rebuke “whisperers.”
Either way, they are not men of God and surely will answer for their crime’s against God’s anointed.
What is even sadder, is that other church leaders, understanding this could happen to them, say nothing. Some even, as was the case in this city, openly participate in the
Pastoral Installation Service of these “demonic usurpers” just happy it wasn’t them who had been replaced.
Yes – these are supposed followers of Jesus Christ.
God Does Not Exalt False Armor Bearers
These would-be armor bearers work secular jobs, and view pastoring no differently than gaining a promotion.
They are incapable of discerning the difference between being Promoted, and the Exaltation only God can provide.
Being promoted can occur for many reasons but the most agreed upon criteria are:
Length of service to the company
Consistently excellent job performance
Company leadership views them as ‘deserving’
Their credentials match requirements
The employee stands out among peers
Exaltation by God looks nothing like the above criteria and scripture says (1st Samuel 16:7):
The Prophet Samuel, when tasked by God to anoint the next King of Israel after Saul, thought Eliab was the man. Samuel went to a man named Jesse and was sure his eldest son (Eliab) was the next king.
In addition to Eliab, Jesse’s other sons must have been striking young men. Short story even shorter, Samuel ended up asking Jesse: “are all of your sons here?” Jesse then said: “No” and told the Prophet about his youngest son - David.
To understand the unusual nature of David’s selection, let’s review a few things. First, in this ancient culture, the eldest son received the father’s blessing. He also inherited all his father’s property.
This was best demonstrated in the case of Isaac, Esau, and Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34). However, Jacob tricked his blind father, Isaac, and received the blessing as the younger son.
As with everything, the way we view things, versus the way God ordains, are often opposites. This is where exaltation comes in! David, the youngest son of Jesse, was anointed King of Israel.
David was exalted, not due to any birth right qualification or other definable factor. Yet, in David’s own words to Michel (Saul's daughter): “God chose me before your father to be King over Israel.” (2nd Samuel 6:21).
In contrast to the ‘Promotable Employee,’ the man that is Exalted by God:
Does not have the ‘Length of Service’ many believe necessary to be a so-called an effective Shepherd.
May not be qualified to lead today's church when compared with the lowly men Jesus called to be His disciples.
May not possess experience but has the faith to compensate.
Any discerning armor bearer, who loves God’s Word, grasps that how well they perform in a ministry only has one measure: obedience.
This isn’t about the so-called ‘obedience to leadership’ either. Too often, this form of followship leads to disobedience to God. Never suppose that obeying your Pastor is pleasing to God because all men who claim to hear God’s leading are being dishonest.
In today’s church, it is crucial to watch out for Satan’s workers who also show up in the church weekly.
This happens through prayer and receiving the gift of discernment. Sincere church leaders have been abused and wounded from false armor bearers. So many others, however, have been blessed through the service of faithful men and women who come for holy reasons.
In the times we live in, let us all “watch as well as pray.”
Header Image Courtesy of Henry Hustava @ Unsplash