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!”

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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