When I look at the past twenty years of walking with Jesus, I can’t help but think of the relationships I have had along my journey. As I look at the past and each season I’ve been through, I am reminded of those who were and are with me as a Christ follower. Faithful followers who encourage me to go DEEPER with God and with others.
Jesus was clear when he said, “go therefore and make disciples.” That was his plan, and that is the plan for us as believers. We see this plan in action during the early church and the first missionary journeys in scripture. Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy all lived to make disciples as they shared Jesus with each other and those along the path. We see deeply rooted foundations in these three types of relationships. They are fundamental in walking with Christ daily. In order to deepen in our walk with the Lord, we must have evidence of these three types of relationships.
Paul – The Mentor
Paul represents a mentor in your life. Paul was passionate about pouring into younger disciples and spoke truth in love regardless of what was going on. We all need a Paul whose words we trust and who we give permission to speak truth into our lives. Paul’s wisdom comes from the path he has walked and his dependence on the Lord. Age does not equal wisdom, but those who have gone before us have so much to share if we are willing to humble ourselves and gain their wisdom.
I have two men that I would call my mentors. One of them is much older than I am and has grown children my age, and the other is just a few years ahead of me. The key in having a Paul relationship is finding someone who has traveled ahead that can speak into your current reality because they have walked the path before you.
Who is the person that you would call a mentor? Is it a formal mentorship or just someone you admire from afar?
Barnabas – The Peer
Barnabas represents a person that is in the trenches with you. A peer or friend that can encourage you to stay the path. In the same way, you encourage this person as your grow and move along the journey together. This is a person who you lock arms with in agreement to hold each other accountable to a faithful life in Christ.
I have a few Barnabas’ in my life that when I am having my worst day or my best day, I know I can turn to them for support, encouragement, and celebration. They have a deep understanding of my day to day because they are part of my day to day.
Who are the people in your life that you can text at any moment and they will step up and be there for you.
Timothy – The Mentee
Paul knew that as a Christ follower, we must pour into those younger than us. Timothy represents someone you are helping along their journey. Someone who is a few steps behind you that is willing to be poured into. A Timothy is not a one-sided relationship either, although we pour into a Timothy, their lives should encourage and uplift us on our journey as well.
I have a Timothy relationship with another guy that fills my tank. I am often reminded and thankful for how the Lord has brought me through so much in my life. When I’m having conversations with a Timothy, and I’ve experienced the exact same thing they are currently facing I smile knowing God crossed our paths on purpose. My job is to just encourage and support them through the journey.
Is there a younger person in your life that you intentionally shepherd? If you do not have someone officially, does someone come to mind?
When it comes to having these three types of relationships, often we just go through life without making these relationships meaningful and purposeful.
Do you want a Paul?
First, spend time in prayer asking for God to make it clear for someone in your life to become a Paul. Once identified, ask that person if they wouldn’t mind spending a little extra time with you so that you can ask questions and learn from them. After a few meetings you will find out if that person is a Paul in your life or someone you got to spend extra time with.
Are you looking for a Barnabas?
One of the best ways to find a Barnabas is to be a Barnabas. Reach out to your peers and be an encouragement, ask good questions and when you connect, dig in deep. Don’t shy away from the hard topics and help them walk closer to the Lord. You will know quickly if they are someone that can be a Barnabas for you.
Do you have a Timothy?
It can be awkward to directly ask someone younger than you to be their mentor. The key to finding a timothy is looking for someone you can invest in without anything in return. Someone that keeps crossing your path, that you know you can help may be your next Timothy.