He picked me up from the airport. We headed straight to the church.
I wanted to look over my manuscript once more before I preached. But I took a few minutes to chat with my driver.
I asked my standard questions, including, “Where do you serve in the church?”
“I’m pastor’s chief armor bearer,” he said proudly.
I summoned all the self-control I could muster. But I couldn’t resist. I had to ask. “What does that mean?”
He explained the various ways he serves his pastor. “I am basically pastor’s right-hand man,” he concluded.
I changed the subject.
But there was another question I wanted to ask: “You do know that armor bearer is not a biblical church office, don’t you?”
This time, self-control prevailed. Thankfully.
I read Terry Nance’s book, God’s Armor Bearers, when it was first published some years ago. I found it interesting. Then I forgot it. I never expected it would get so much traction. Yet there is a now a movement of “armor bearers.” And I am not sure it’s a good thing.
Let me clear. It is good for men to have hearts and hands to serve in the church. And it is good when men are willing to serve their pastor. Every man should have another man in his life that he submits to. But I wonder if all this “armor bearer” stuff is taking things too far.
Christians are commanded to honor their pastors. At the same time, however, pastors are commanded to be servant-leaders, not celebrities.
- Do you really need security with earpieces to protect you from interaction with your congregation?
- Do you really need someone to carry your Bible, manuscript, and anointed handkerchief to the pulpit for you before you preach?
- Do you really need the men in your church who have a servant’s heart to be used as your chauffeurs and butlers?
But there is a bigger question: You do know armor bearer is not a biblical church office, don’t you?
There are two biblical offices in the New Testament church: elders and deacons. Elders serve by leading. Deacons lead by serving.
Unfortunately, many pastors and congregations resist the hard work of developing biblical church leadership. Most would not dare consider establishing elders. And pastors and deacons often have a love-hate relationship, as they wrestle for power. (Trustees are not in the Bible. And they should NOT have final authority in the church, just because they handle the money.)
Brothers, if we are going to disciple men for Christian growth, service, and leadership, why not use the terms and offices the Lord has ordained? The church needs godly elders and faithful deacons not ecclesiastical rent-a-cops.
Come on, if you are going to fight what that armor, can’t you carry it?
As pastors, we should model Christlike humility and servanthood. We should labor to nurture biblical church leadership. Our goal should be congregational health, not personal comfort. We need Christian soldiers that will lead the army of God into spiritual warfare.
And may we do so dressed in the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), so we won’t need anyone to bear our armor for us!
I am 68 years old. It was two years ago when I heard the term armor bearer for the first time. The young man tried to explain his role. What I took away was that he worked for and protected his pastor. I didn’t question him, but accepted that in today’s world there is much to do in the church, and everything has to have a title. Maybe it makes people feel important and increases their desire to serve.
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