Be A “Fred”

Jonathan & his armor bearer - bronze by Tom White

Jonathan & his armor bearer – bronze by Tom White

Most of us are not famous.   Most of us don’t have big-name recognition. Even within our churches most of us serve quietly, without fanfare, knowing we serve the living God by humbly serving those in our faith communities.

But being a behind-the-scenes servant in the church does not mean we are insignificant. Quietly going about the role of ministry in one of a thousand areas of service is essential for the working of the body of Christ on earth. Someone must vacuum the floors and clean the restrooms; someone has to do the typing, print the bulletins, answer the phones, and empty the trash cans; somebody has to be used by God to serve the children in our church by teaching Bible lessons or changing diapers; and someone must quietly and privately pray for the leaders of the congregations. God knows each servant and blesses each willing heart no matter how anonymously they serve. In fact, unheralded workers are so important to the Lord that Psalm 134 was written just for the “night shift.”

I’ve come across several of these amazing, anonymous servants in God’s Word. But, like so many people serving in our churches today, it’s easy to overlook them by only seeing the leader they assist.

The guy I want to look at is so lowly he doesn’t even have a name in the Scripture. We only know him by the role in which he serves. But, we know his leader. In fact, you could say his boss is famous.

Jonathan was a prince… in line to the throne of King Saul of Israel. What we read about his honor, courage, and friendship with David – the future King of Israel could fill a book. Jonathan was a well known, “in the headlines” kind of leader within the community of God’s people but I’m not going to write about him.

I’m going to talk about his nameless servant. In fact, when I first read about this man, it bothered me so much that this great servant had no name that I gave him one. I wrote “Fred” in the margin of my Bible and drew an arrow to his description so let’s call him by that name.

In 1 Samuel 14:1, Fred is only mentioned as Jonathan’s armor bearer.

Now the day came that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.”…

In the ancient world the armor bearer or shield bearer fulfilled an important role.  Most kings had them… Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Joab (2 Samuel 18:15), David served as King Saul’s armor bearer (1 Samuel 16:21), even Goliath had one (1 Samuel 17:7,41).  The armor bearer had 3 main functions: carry any armor his leader might need – like a shield; carry extra weapons for his leader – even if it meant giving him his own; and defend his leader – from any attack from behind.

We note that the vision and even the decision to go to battle wasn’t Fred’s but his leader’s.

Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.”        1 Samuel 14:6

It’s also important to see that Jonathan had trust in Fred’s faithfulness when he said, “let us cross over…” Jonathan knew that Fred was with him in the battle.

This brings me to a question I’ve been thinking about. Do my pastor, associate pastor, and other church leaders know that I’ll be with them in the spiritual fight we face?

If we are to be faithful servants in the church, even anonymous ones, we must back up our leaders every step of the way. We all should be challenged by Fred’s response to Jonathan, his boss and leader,

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.”        1 Samuel 14:7

In other words, “go to the battle, boss… fight the fight of faith, I’ll be right here. If you ever doubt it, pastor, just turn around, here I’ll be. I’ve got your back no matter what.”

Is that a role you relish? Do you have your pastor’s back no matter what comes? Are you his servant? Are you his friend? Do you pray for him through thick and thin? Even when you think he’s wrong and decides to fight a seemingly overwhelming battle, you’re still right there backing him up? Do you stand ready to hand your pastor what he needs for the fight – financial support, prayer support, an encouraging word of blessing, or even protection from back-biting attackers?

God sees, God blesses, and God gives miraculous victory.

Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor bearer behind him; and they fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer put some to death after him. That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor bearer made was about twenty men within about half a furrow in an acre of land.        1 Samuel 14:13–14

So we must ask ourselves, “Am I being a Fred – faithfully and quietly serving in my church?” And remind ourselves that we may not be noticed or acknowledged but we are not insignificant. We are being used by the Lord to accomplish His work. But, in so doing, do we have our leader’s back?

Think about it.


  • Matt Brown says:

    A good message for friendship as well. But seriously a jewish armor bearer named Fred… really? You just never know……

  • I really do believe that Pastors are supposed to be supporting people. That is what the word Pastor means. For all the years we attended Churches here in Australia desperately trying to find just one Pastor or Minister who preached the truth and actually CARED about us and we never found one. They were all posers and thoroughly unpleasant people who, I believe were not God appointed but self-appointed because they could not get a job any where else. As a result of much pain, shame and suffering where I cried through one week to the next I was given a little book called A Christian Love Story by Zola Levitt and within I found an address and on it was Manna International, Sydney with a telephone number and I rang. On the other end was a lady by the name Heather Tupper. She supported me and she knew her Word in quite a wonderful way for her ministry was to the Jewish people. She guided me to Doctor Arnold G Fruchtenbaum of Ariel Ministries and it is to that Ministry we owe our enormous gratitude our hearts and our finances are joined to Ariel Ministries.

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