Saul liked him very much and David became one of his armorbearers. —1 Samuel 16:22b
In biblical days, an armorbearer was one who actually carried the shield and armor of his leader as he went into battle, often acting as his personal assistant. For example, King Saul had several armorbearers assigned to him.1 In our modern-day, I see no one walking around fully suited in the classical armor of the early centuries.
Nevertheless, in the spiritual realm, we continue to need our armor. The Ephesians' writer commands us to put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil's schemes.2 Just as much as our early century counterparts, we in the ministry of service are to suit up in the Armor of the Spirit and carry the armor of God's leaders in the battle of faith.
The term armorbearer was originally translated from the Hebrew word, nasa, meaning to figuratively or literally lift up, support or simply help.3 On occasion, Bible translators have translated the word, "help", from the Hebrew word, nasa. In light of these defining terms, we can see an armorbearer is one that helps or supports the arms of an assigned leader during the times of battle.
A modern day armorbearer is one called by God to serve and help his assigned leader in life, ministry, and especially in the fight of faith.4 In essence, an armorbearer is called to attend to, minister to, care for, help, be of use, assist, benefit, promote, support, make easy for, nourish, and encourage their leader.
Furthermore, God calls others to walk in the spirit of armorbearing. They may not be assigned specifically to one leader, but they possess the mindset and attitude of an armorbearer. The attitude of an armorbearer is one of servanthood. The mindset of an armorbearer, as well as those operating in the spirit of one, is to do what it takes to serve and support their leadership.5 Operating in the spirit of armorbearing can also be described as operating in the principles or pervading qualities of an armorbearer. The qualities that top the list are servanthood, commitment, attentiveness, support, help, loyalty, and faithfulness.
Armorbearing in the attitude of service is not just the performing of humble tasks, but is an effort to serve Christ in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, "The servant of all is the greatest of all." Among my favorite examples, are the great men in Old Testament scripture, many who were faithful armorbearers before their public ministry. King David, King David's mighty men, Elisha and Joshua exemplified the armorbearing spirit in excellence. Even Elisha's assistant, Gehazi, offers us an example of what we do not want to do as an armorbearer.6
One need not think our Father God only called armorbearers or helpers to assist in the ancient battles. Look at New Testament Joseph of Cyprus, nicknamed "Barnabas," or "Son of Encouragement." The most popular view is that Joseph of Cyprus gained these names because he constantly encouraged those to whom he and Paul ministered. Recently, I have considered another thought as to why he was called "Son of Encouragement." Perhaps it was because he persevered by Paul's side through shipwrecks, stoning and much rejection.
Do not overlook Stephen and Phillip among the seven appointed to wait tables for the early church apostles' feeding program. The leaders assigned them to help while their apostles gave greater focus to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Throughout the Bible and today, God is still calling helpers and armorbearers to lift up the arms of our Church leadership.
Operating in the spirit of armorbearing is fulfilling a ministry of help, watchfulness, and intercession on behalf of our leadership. I believe God has issued a fresh call to serve and support our leaders in this way. Only He knows the spiritual effort and sheer hard work it will take to accomplish the vision of His Church.
The Apostle Paul encouraged us to excel in the gifts that build up the Church. As we in the ministry of helps excel in the gift of service and supporting our leaders, we will come into the unity of faith like never before. When we each take our place and share the load our men and women in leadership will suffer less weariness and burnout, giving opportunity for a greater refreshing from the Lord.