““Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”” (1 Samuel 14:6–7 NLT).
Homefield advantage is a thing. Some athletes say they thrive on opposition, that they love playing in front of a hostile crowd. But, time and time again, it is a general rule that teams win a higher percentage of games when playing on their home field, ice, court, or turf. Many factors are cited, but one is the support of the fans.
Even professional athletes get caught up in the energy of a fan base rooting for them. “The crowd was awesome tonight,” is heard often. The next night, visiting an opponent's court, that same athlete might say, “I just tune it out,” but the cat is out of the bag. We know the truth. The roar of the crowd does at least a little something to the athlete.
Wholehearted support. Encouragement. Enthusiasm. We crave each of these attitudes. We want the people in our lives to back us, to support us as we chase down dreams. We love to hear the people in our lives cheering us on, shouting their support. It might not come in the form of a stadium full of people chanting the name of our team, but supportive notes, emails, phone calls, or texts give us a little juice to keep going. Words of affirmation, the enthusiastic support of your team, or the “you-got-this” attitude of a spouse often propel us to greater success than we could have managed on our own. And, of course, the support of God’s Spirit, as he whispers his encouragement into our hearts, aids us as we putter on through life.
In the passage above, Jonathan found support from his armor bearer. Jonathan had an idea: attack the garrison of the oppressors, the Philistines. His armorbearer did not cite their small number (just the two of them), but instead his support. He did not accuse Jonathan of being a religious nut with no bearing in reality, but agreed and ran with Jonathan. He did not pause or hesitate but offered his wholehearted support. He would go with Jonathan. He was all in.
You want an armorbearer like that. You want people in your life to reply, as he did, “I’m with you completely.”
However, consider this: if you want the armorbearer reply, you must exhibit the Jonathan spirit. Jonathan was an extraordinary man with an incredible heart. His faith was big. He was a leader worth following. Not everyone follows a leader like Jonathan, but his attributes made him easy to follow. Let’s consider his attitude:
1 He believed God could deliver them with many warriors or only a few.
He did not think they needed to have a thousand warriors or flawless strategy. He had hope in the power of God. He believed God could take their small number and do big things.
2 He acted as if God were alive.
His father, Saul, lived out of step with God. He had no idea how to listen to God. But Jonathan was different. He believed God was on the throne. He did not panic. He did not stress. He trusted his Father in heaven.
3 He thought he and his armorbearer could be instruments in God’s hands.
Remember, this episode happened before David defeated Goliath. Jonathan saw a potential battle and truly believed he and his comrade could win. He saw no reason why God would not use them. He didn’t focus on all the reasons why not, but said, “Why not us?”
4 He took a massive step of faith, which is attractive.
Humans are afraid of failure. I’m sure Jonathan was no different. But when he became willing to step out into danger, ready to do something for God, he acted in faith. Leaders who operate in the faith realm are appealing to us.
5 He put his own life on the line.
He didn’t send his armorbearer but went himself. He wanted the battle. He wanted to feel the sword in his hand. He engaged in the war himself.
6 He was willing to fight for God’s kingdom and mission.
He was not in it for himself. He wanted to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors. God had set Israel free during the exodus, and, years later, Jonathan wanted them to live in the freedom God had given them. He was squarely on God’s team doing God’s work.
If we want the support and encouragement of Jonathan’s armorbearer, we must demonstrate the kind of faith and leadership Jonathan displayed. We must appeal to the armorbearers in our lives with a contagious faith they cannot resist.