About 20 years ago, a guest preacher at the church I was attending preached about a book by Terry Nance. This minister used his time in the pulpit to quote from God's Armor Bearer and tell the congregants how special it was to be chosen to work close to a pastor. The church pastor later chose 3 men to be his armor-bearers. who walked behind him as he lay hands, on parishioners. When service was over they cleared the crowd so the pastor could walk through without interruption. Once one armor-bearer became overzealous in pushing people out of the way. He bumped into my mother in law sending her into the coat rack. I'm not sure what motivated Terry Nance to write such a book, because it is a great misconception. Over time I have come to see the aftermath as a gross distraction within the body of Christ. In the Bible, there are a number of references to armor-bearers and they always carried legitimate armor for soldiers.
Biblical armor bearers
The following are 5 scriptures that mention armor-bearers.
When Abimelech was wounded he asked his assistant to help him die. Judges 9:54
Then he called quickly to the young man, his armor-bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that it will not be said of me, ‘A woman slew him.’” So the young man pierced him through, and he died.
1 Samuel 31:4-6
Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, otherwise these uncircumcised will come and pierce me through and make sport of me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it. When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died with him. Thus Saul died with his three sons, his armor-bearer, and all his men on that day together.
Even Goliath had someone carry his shield 1 Samuel 17:7
The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him.
Saul actually chose David to carry his battle armor. 1 Samuel 16:21
Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer.
Saul's son Jonathan had someone to carry his armor 1 Samuel 14:7
His armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.”
The great deception
When it comes to His kingdom the focus should always be lifting up Christ. It's understandable in Biblical days that a soldier would need assistance carrying his heavy shield. Because of the book written by Terry Nance, there are pastors who have people carrying their Bible or briefcase. I once visited a church where, the pastor was ministering near the altar, and a man just stood beside him holding his Bible. This man's head was held high as if he were standing beside Jesus himself. I have been in funeral services where pastors spoke about how the deceased opened doors for them and were always at their beck and call. Just because someone loves and serves their spiritual leaders does not necessarily indicate they truly love the Lord. In Biblical days the prophets had servants, but there is no New Testament scripture that indicates a need for armor-bearers outside of actual battle. Jesus had disciples, Paul, Silas, Timothy, Barnabus, and others traveled together ministering the gospel and not one considered himself higher than the other. When people are in a church setting they should be hearing Christ speak through the preacher and not focused on the person who is serving him. Some pastors have their members believing it's an honor to serve them and speak on it more than they do about serving Christ and that is dangerous.
They have their reward
I attended a church where the pastor always came running into the sanctuary late with 3 men running behind him. When he shook hands after service they stood nearby as if they were bodyguards. Standing next to your pastor, traveling with him carrying his Bible, getting his dry cleaning etc. is not going to enhance your relationship with Christ and your only reward will be that others are looking at you. I was in a church where 2 female elders were close to the pastor and on his behalf, they often berated church members and even caused women to cry. I'm sure some of it was their own personalities but he kept them close knowing they were often mean-spirited towards the sheep. This pastor spoke often of how those who sowed financial seeds into him and obeyed his every command would receive a reward from the Lord. The two elders mentioned both died of cancer well below the age of 70 that most preachers say should be the earliest age any believer should die. One of those women once said to me that she did everything the pastor asked her and it was not worth it. During the past few years, three men I knew who attended different churches passed away. The obituaries of all three stated that they had been their pastors' armor-bearers. I mean no disrespect but this position next to the spiritual leader did not extend any of their lives. Sorry Terry Nance, but Christ's armor-bearers wear the whole spiritual armor because the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. (Ephesians 6:11-18.) 2 Corinthians 10:4-5). If it leads you to look at man instead of Christ it does not please Him. He shares His glory with no one.
Bear the armor of Jesus
In I Timothy 2:5-7 the Apostle Paul says the following:
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
In these verses Paul states plainly that he serves Jesus and there is no one in between. Too many pastors today have convinced congregants that somehow they are the liaison between them and Christ. The bottom line is this. There is only one place in the New Testament where believers are told to bear armor and it can be found in Matthew 16:24 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." We are not called to stand beside a spiritual leader and take up his Bible, we are called to carry our own cross and follow Christ.
Please note, this article is not against pastors who at times may need assistance because such situations will arise. This is about those who emphasize serving them as a greater honor than it is. I am referring to situations like those I have shared, where people get distracted by bumbling, fumbling keystone cops. Love your leader and if the Lord leads you, then obey Him. If you have been questioning the role of Armor bearer, now you know it's not your imagination.
Its out of hand
Perhaps armour bearers began with good intentions but it's really gotten out of hand,
© 2020 Cheryl E Preston