Every pastor needs some Gandalf in him

Through the power of film Peter Jackson has made J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy famous and accessible to a generation who may have never have heard of the literary classic. One of the most endearing characters in the story is a wizard named Gandalf. He is the leader of the fellowship of the ring and pledges himself to see that Frodo Baggins endures the treacherous journey to the fires of Mount Doom.

Because of unforeseen difficulties Gandalf must lead his band of pilgrims through the mines of Moria where they successfully fight violent goblins and trolls. But before they make it through, a wicked, powerful balrog pursues them. This wicked creature makes even the goblins tremble and is Tolkien’s depiction of demonic beings.

In one of the most dramatic scenes of the first movie, Peter Jackson vividly portrays the resolve and courage of Gandalf to stand against the onslaught of the balrog. On the bridge of Khazadum, Gandalf turns to face their attacker and, taking his stand, declares, “You shall not pass!”

It is, to my mind, a powerful illustration of what God calls pastors to do in those seasons of intense spiritual warfare in the life of a church. Such “evil days” do come. And when they do, God’s people are called to “stand” (Ephesians 6:13; cf. 6:10-12).

We are to be mindful of the devil, aware that he regularly looks for ways to destroy God’s people, and we are to resist him, knowing that as we do so, he will flee (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9). Pastors–those whom God gives to His church to shepherd His flock–must lead the way in this effort.

When demonic forces seem to be unleashing their fury against the Lord’s work among His people, pastors must protect the flocks they serve by standing firm and saying, “Enough! We will not yield one more step to our enemies. By God’s grace, we will stand!”