Cheryl is a licensed, ordained minister and has a BA in Psychology and Church ministry.
About 20 years ago, a guest preacher came to the church I was attending. Instead of giving a sermon about salvation and Jesus, he spoke 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. After this, the pastor of that church chose 3 men to be his armor-bearers. They walked behind him as he ministered in the audience and lay hands, on parishioners. When service was over they cleared the crowd so the pastor could walk through without interruption. Once as we were leaving a service 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 Saul 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 someone else to help carry 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, when the pastor was ministering near the altar, there was a man just standing 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 that there is 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 pastor have their members thinking it's am 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 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 out of town, 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. 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. Just recently I found out that a man I knew passed away. In reading his obituary it stated that he had been his pastor's armor-bearer from the beginning of his time at his church. I mean no disrespect but his position next to his spiritual leader did not extend his life. 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).
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.
© 2020 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on August 25, 2020:
Yes we have and it is distressing.
OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on August 25, 2020:
We have misplaced priority in the gospel, the desire of many a one is "wealth", making a merchandise of the gospel and that is bad. God has not stopped anyone from doing his daily works and yet be a minister at least we have an example in one of the earliest Apostles in the Bible, Apostle Paul.
Now, when we say something like this people will say we are against the pastors and do not want it well with them. That is a sad part of trying to point things out to some ministers of the Gospel, they always misconstrue things which often times make me to wonder that "were they ever saved?" before becoming a Preacher? Many were not saved before becoming a minister of the Gospel, thus, it is easier for them to fault people's utterances, speeches and write-ups to correct them.
They often think they know it all, as if they are even Jesus themselves how they behave when talking with them, forgetting that they are only human like we all are.
Intriguingly, we have the same right that they have as a Believer because we are His children, and a children before their parents have equal rights if such a child knows what he is doing, it is when the child does not know what she or he is doing that the parent would deny him or her some things to punish and correct him.
A spade should be called a spade, many of these things have shifted us from the "main" to the "minor", and it is not fear.
There are people who have given all, obviously listening to some "rants" from some supposedly ministers of God who have themsleves to blame these days. The better we know Jesus ourselves than been bamboozled by some people because of the talents that they have which is neither the gift of God nor entrenched in the Holy Ghost Power.
What makes the difference, then, now, and which will continue to make the difference is the Power of God as released by the Holy Ghost on individuals.
Many words are watery because they are not entrenched in the Holy Ghost.
Stay Safe ma. Good piece.
And Warmest Love from Ilorin, Kwara State Nigeria to the family and brethren there.
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on August 24, 2020:
Yes that’s what I said Peggy. Thanks for reading.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 24, 2020:
I am sorry that your mother-in-law had that experience of being pushed into the coat rack. It would appear that the person doing it was acting more like an exurberant body guard.
Margaret Minnicks from Richmond, VA on August 24, 2020:
Cheryl, this is a very good detail about armor-bearers who literally carried armor for those in battle in the Old Testament. Some modern-day pastors who have so-called armor-bearers should read this article.
John Gardiner on August 23, 2020:
Jesus wants us to follow Him and His example of a servant. A pastor is supposed to be a servant and not have minions to carry stuff and stand guard.
Thanks for challenging another mistaken doctrine.