A few years ago I went to a seminar on “Why you need a Mentor” lead by renowned professor Howard Hendricks. He started by asking this question, “How many here want to grow and thrive in your faith?” Every hand went up. He then went on to say, “Then everyone one of you needs to have a mentor in your life. You and I were not meant to walk this journey of faith alone.”
Now I have heard the concept of mentoring before, but Howard Hendricks gave a great definition of a mentor as being “Someone who has been, where you want to go.” He said, John Crosby, a noted politician and lawyer said: “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
At that moment something resonated in my soul. I remember at that very moment saying, “I need this in my life. I need someone who is smarter, faster and wiser than me. ” I need a mentor, and friends, so do you.
Howard Hendricks went on and encouraged all of us to pray for God to bring that mentor into our lives. All of this was making sense to me, and then he introduced a powerful concept that I have been trying to incorporate into my spiritual life for the last 20 years.
Howard Hendricks said, “We all need 3 key relationships in our lives to help us thrive in our walk of faith.” I remember leaning forward ready to write furiously when he said, “We all need a Paul, a Barnabas and a Timothy.” (Today I would also add, We all need a Priscilla: a Lois and a Eunice.)
He said, “We all need to Pursue a Paul: Be a Barnabas:Train a Timothy.”
What do these three relationships look like?
Paul was, of course, the great apostle to the Gentiles. A former persecutor of the church, Jesus revealed Himself to Paul on the Damascus Road and changed his life forever. Paul’s missionary journeys are detailed in the Book of Acts, and Paul’s letters to the churches he founded, take up nearly one-third of our New Testaments.
Paul is a classic mentor. He poured his life into people. Paul was a spiritual father to many believers, and he once called Timothy a ‘son in the faith.’ Each one of us needs a spiritual mentor in our life, like Timothy had in Paul. We all need someone who is older, wiser, more experienced and deeper in the things of Christ. We all need to be poured into by another brother or sister. Their influence can range from giving Bible insights to encouragement, to working through hard times in our lives, giving wisdom for major decisions in life. We all need to be poured into like the apostle Paul did. So ask yourself, “Do I have a Paul in my life?”
Barnabas was a companion of Paul He went on Paul’s first missionary journey after Pentecost. Paul and Barnabas were peers. In Acts 13, they were sent out together. They walked through life and served God together. They were friends and without a doubt, they were mutually edified by each other. When Jesus sent out His disciples in the Gospels, He sent them out two by two. It is commonly explained that Jesus knew they needed fellowship and protection. He wanted His disciples to have fellowship because He knew that they were created for relationships. In the same way, we need to be able to share our lives with others in friendship. It’s the same for us. When we are alone, we are more vulnerable in so many ways, but when we are in relationship, someone has our back. We can count on them.
Not only do we need a Paul, someone who will pour into us, but we also need a Barnabas, with whom we will walk through this life of faith. A Barnabas is our spiritual peer, a friend in the faith, someone we co-labor with and someone who will be a source of fellowship and protection. They will encourage us in the faith, and we will do the same for them. We all need someone who knows us, prays with us and encourages us as we encourage them. So ask yourself, “Do I have a Barnabas in my life?”
Timothy was considerably younger than Paul. Yet Paul made a substantial investment in Timothy. Although young, God was using Timothy mightily in the pastoral ministry. Timothy was the recipient of mentoring at the hands of Paul and it paid eternal dividends. So not only do we need a Paul in our lives to pour into us, not only do we need a Barnabas to walk alongside us, we all need a Timothy as well. We all need to be pouring into someone for their benefit and growth.
Take a minute and think back on the individuals that we have discipled. Whether we have been a Christian for thirty years or for thirty minutes, there is always someone who will be blessed by our spiritual investment in their lives. And not only will they be blessed, but everyone who they reach out to will also be blessed!
Today we would call that our spiritual ‘paying it forward.’ As we have been blessed by our “Paul’ and encouraged by our “Barnabas,” we then seek out someone we can bless as we have been blessed, our own personal Timothy’s that we can pour into as a Paul. So ask yourself, “Do I have a Timothy in my life?”
So there you have it! Now you understand the Paul, Barnabas and Timothy model of mentoring. What would it be like if every person of faith endeavored to have, as a starting point, these three relationships? Can you imagine how much growth would take place in your life? Jesus wants His church to be a disciple-making body, so I encourage you to pray about your Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy relationships today. God will surely meet you as you pray about this concept, step out in faith, and seek these people out.
In my next blog I want answer the question, “How do you find your Paul, Barnabas and Timothy. But until then, start praying.