As a Christian actively involved in ministry, you may have heard the term “armor bearer” used in reference to people who assist pastors and other leaders. But what exactly does this role entail? In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the biblical foundation and modern application of armor bearers in the church.
The concept of an armor bearer originates in the Old Testament. While not extensively described, armor bearers were assistants to kings, generals, and other leaders that provided practical and spiritual support. As you will see, their responsibilities directly enabled leaders to fulfill their God-given missions.
Today, the role of an armor bearer continues to be invaluable. Whether paid staff or volunteers, armor bearers free up pastors to focus on teaching, preaching, counseling, and leading. With the pastoral load increasing in complexity, a dedicated support team is essential.
As we detail the responsibilities and required character traits of an armor bearer, you will gain better understanding of this vital position within your church. You may even discover areas where you can serve your pastor more effectively through the lens of an armor bearer.
- Armor bearers enabled leaders to fully focus on God’s mission through practical and spiritual support
- The core responsibilities of an armor bearer involve protecting the leader and helping bear their load
- Armor bearers demonstrate excellent character and devotion to their leader and to the Lord
- Within the church today, armor bearers carry out tasks that allow the pastor to prioritize ministerial duties
- All Christians can adopt aspects of an armor bearer’s mindset to better support their pastor
The Biblical Basis
While the specific phrase “armor bearer” appears infrequently, the Bible contains numerous examples of those who fulfilled this role. By looking at their actions and relationships with leaders, we gain insight into the function and traits of an armor bearer.
Old Testament Examples
Two of the most prominent armor bearers are found in 1 Samuel. Saul and Jonathan, the first two kings of Israel, were supported by young men described as armor bearers.
When Saul first became king, Abner is mentioned as the commander of his army and the one who brought David before Saul (1 Samuel 17:55-58). Yet later in 1 Samuel 16:21, Abner is described as Saul’s armor bearer. This shows that armor bearers held positions of influence and leadership within their organizations.
We also see armor bearers demonstrate profound loyalty and service. 1 Samuel 31 recounts the final battle between the Philistines and Saul’s army in which Saul’s sons, including Jonathan, were killed. Saul was critically wounded and requested that his armor bearer deliver the final blow so that the Philistines could not abuse him. But the armor bearer refused, so Saul took his own life (1 Samuel 31:4-5). While difficult, his actions showed commitment to protecting his leader.
Jonathan’s armor bearer also displayed this devotion. In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan and his armor bearer launched an attack against a Philistine garrison, just the two of them. As they climbed a cliff, Jonathan told his armor bearer that if the Philistines told them to stay put until they came down, they would keep climbing as that would be the Lord delivering them into their hands. The armor bearer faithfully agreed to follow Jonathan’s lead, saying “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart” (1 Samuel 14:6-7).
So we see armor bearers occupied esteemed positions and demonstrated loyalty to their leaders. These examples set the foundation for the role of an armor bearer.
While not directly labeled armor bearers, assistants to the priests in the tabernacle and temple also modeled this role. Numbers describes the Levites assigned to help Aaron and his sons in their priestly duties (Numbers 3:6). Similarly, Ezekiel refers to a group called “the ministers of the temple” who served the priests (Ezekiel 44:11). These assistants enabled the priests to focus on spiritual rather than logistical tasks.
Elisha & Gehazi
One final notable Old Testament example is Gehazi, who assisted the prophet Elisha. In 2 Kings 4-5, Gehazi carried out tasks like laying staffs on children, handling messages, and attending to visitors on Elisha’s behalf. This freed up Elisha to devote himself to miracles and prophecy.
So in summary, armor bearers in the Old Testament were trusted assistants to leaders that handled practical tasks and demonstrated excellent character. With this biblical groundwork established, we can better understand the role of an armor bearer today.
Responsibilities of a Modern Armor Bearer
While the cultural context has changed, at their core armor bearers still perform practical tasks that facilitate leaders accomplishing their God-directed missions. In the church, these responsibilities generally fall into two categories: protecting the pastor and helping bear their load.
Protecting the Pastor
One of the primary goals of an armor bearer is guarding their pastor. This can take several forms:
1. Handle Scheduling & Interruptions
An armor bearer serves as a protective barrier to the pastor’s time. They manage calendars, politely fend off disruptions, and ensure the pastor has time allotted for rest and family. You can aid pastors by only contacting them when truly necessary and respecting their personal time.
2. Provide Spiritual Covering
Through intercessory prayer and words of encouragement, armor bearers provide spiritual support to their pastors. You can pray regularly for your pastor and offer biblical truth when they face difficulties.
3. Offer Wise Counsel
While pastors provide counsel to their church, armor bearers also supply wise perspective when needed. Since they work closely with their pastor, an armor bearer may offer insights to complement the pastor’s point of view.
4. Preserve Confidentiality
Armor bearers demonstrate trustworthiness by keeping private conversations confidential and not overstepping boundaries. You should avoid invading your pastor’s privacy or spreading gossip.
Helping Bear the Load
Armor bearers also assist with tasks and responsibilities to ease the pastor’s burden:
1. Manage Logistics
They handle event coordination, set up for services, travel arrangements, and other logistical duties. You can serve at events and participate on ministry teams to lift these loads.
2. Perform Admin Tasks
Things like drafting correspondence, compiling reports, organizing files, and research can be delegated to armor bearers. Look for administrative needs you can fulfill to free up your pastor.
3. Provide Personal Assistance
Armor bearers help with miscellaneous personal matters like running errands, household repairs, pet care, and monitoring the pastor’s home while traveling. Offer to assist with items that will remove distractions.
4. Handle Financial Tasks
Duties like keeping financial records in order, preparing budgets, and collecting tithes may be performed by an armor bearer. Volunteering to help with church finances and freewill offerings enables pastors to focus elsewhere.
5. Care for the Pastor’s Family
The pastor’s spouse and children also require attention and support. An armor bearer can provide meals, help with household chores and maintenance, tend to children if sick, and more.
While not exhaustive, these examples demonstrate the wide range of potential responsibilities for a modern armor bearer. At their core, however, each duty aims to protect the pastor and bear the burdens they carry for the church.
Character Traits of an Excellent Armor Bearer
In addition to task-oriented skills, armor bearers exhibit inner qualities that equip them to serve effectively. As you support ministry leaders, aspire to demonstrate these virtues:
Loyalty – unwavering allegiance to the leader and their calling
Dependability – follow through on instructions with excellence
Initiative – take action without waiting for specific commands
Discernment – understand when action is needed versus unnecessary
Attentiveness – notice details and what may go overlooked by the leader
Encouragement – build up the leader through words, prayers, and scripture
Selflessness – make the leader’s needs above your own
Reverence – treat the leader with respect due to their office
Humility – avoid self-promotion and arrogantly asserting your ways
Communication – keep the leader informed while respecting their schedule
Maturity – evidence wisdom and emotional stability
Confidentiality – guard trusted information
Teachability – receive feedback and look to continually improve
This list makes one thing clear: armor bearers completely support their leader’s ministry rather than pursuing their own agenda. Excellence as an armor bearer starts in your heart.
Biblical Armor Bearing in the Church Today
While the specifics differ from Old Testament battles, the core principles of armor bearers remain applicable today. Pastors face immense demands and require dedicated support for maximum effectiveness.
Some churches may have formal positions for assistant pastors that function partially as armor bearers. Larger churches may also have administrative staff that provides practical aid. For most mid-size and smaller congregations, however, armor bearing falls to volunteers.
Ideally, the pastor’s spouse can provide some assistance as an armor bearer. Their shared life enables them to uniquely understand the pastor’s needs. However, the spouse cannot fulfill every aspect, especially if they work outside the home or have their own ministry responsibilities.
Thus, volunteer church members should prayerfully consider how they may serve as armor bearers. Below are some specific applications:
For All Church Members
Every believer can adopt an armor bearer mindset in their relationship with the pastor:
- Uphold them consistently in prayer
- Express appreciation and provide encouraging cards or small gifts
- Defend them against gossip, slander, or unrealistic expectations
- Take initiative to meet needs without waiting to be asked
- Honor their time by not overburdening them
- Demonstrate loyalty rather than threatening to leave over disagreements
For Small Group Leaders
Small group leaders interact closely with church members. They can serve the pastor by:
- Funneling requests to the appropriate ministry leaders rather than the pastor directly
- Providing pastoral care to issues they can competently address and only elevating necessary matters
- Organizing their groups to participate in church service and volunteer roles
For Governing Boards
Church boards and elders enable the pastor by:
- Handling major decisions to prevent undue burden on the pastor
- Speaking positively about the pastor and defending them from baseless criticism
- Structuring in times of rest and sabbatical for the pastor to recharge
For Ministry Directors
Those leading specific ministries can serve as armor bearers by:
- Proactively identifying and addressing needs in their ministry area rather than defaulting to the pastor
- Developing future leaders to lighten the pastor’s load of directly overseeing every volunteer
- Creating systems and processes that operate smoothly without the pastor’s regular input
For Appointed Armor Bearers
Some churches formally appoint certain members as armor bearers to the pastor. Responsibilities may include:
- Consistently attending the pastor in public services and functions
- Driving the pastor to engagements
- Assisting with hospitality duties at the pastor’s home
- Handling administrative tasks the pastor delegates
Of course, individuals should only take on duties they can perform with excellence based on their unique gifts and availabilities. The key is supporting the pastor within your capability.
While anyone can adopt aspects of an armor bearer’s mindset, some may be specifically called to formally fill this position. If appropriately applied, the armor bearer role is invaluable to empowering pastors and churches to advance God’s Kingdom.
To briefly review, armor bearers have biblical precedent as trusted assistants to leaders. They protected their leaders and helped bear burdens that would distract from leading. Within the church today, armor bearers continue to enable pastors to focus on ministerial priorities through practical, spiritual, and emotional support. All believers can apply these principles to some degree. However, some may be specially gifted and called to serve in an official armor bearing capacity.
My hope is this post provided helpful understanding of what an armor bearer is and why the role matters. I encourage you to pray about how you may directly or indirectly apply these lessons to better support your pastor. While challenging, serving as an armor bearer is an immense privilege. By lifting burdens from your pastor’s shoulders, you enable them to stand taller and stronger as they fulfill their calling.