I was once advised by a Christian friend to seek, pray, and find a Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy. Having a spiritual advisor, an encouraging peer, and a new believer whom YOU mentor might not occur all at the same time. However, if you have walked a strong Christian walk for more than ten years, I hope you have all three of these people in your life.
The privilege of sitting under the covering of a believer who is far wiser than you in spiritual matters is a mighty blessing. God is our ultimate counselor, and the Holy Spirit will always teach, guide, and direct us. But a person of flesh, who has gained knowledge and insight through personal trials and victories, is another prize altogether.
God created us for relationships. The Body of Christ is the church, not the building itself, but the people within and attending services. The Lord will teach us through others. Indeed, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God “ (1 Co. 1:3-4 NKJV). If someone in the church has faced and persevered through a struggle, it encourages others going through similar trials to hear of their victory.
“And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus”
Acts 4:36 (NKJV)
“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”
Titus 2:3-5 (NKJV)
A Paul is someone who will lovingly speak the truth to you, even at the cost of hurt feelings. You grant them this liberty. This relationship is one of respect and honor. He or she will be a teacher first and a friend second, as you have entrusted them with authority and position over you. You acknowledge their insight and knowledge and ask them to share it with you. They are a mentor.
Barnabas is known for being an encourager. In fact, Barnabas’ given name was Joses (Joseph) but the apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement” or “ Son of Exhortation” (Acts 4:36) What joy he must have had in sharing just the right words of hope and lifting the spirits of those around him. It is a wonderful blessing to share words of encouragement! We all need encouragers in our lives. People who spur us on to do good works for Christ.
Then there is the Timothy relationship. A prospective Timothy is a believer who longs to learn spiritual truths. He or she is dedicated to gaining a heart of knowledge and wisdom. They are in the Word daily and full of questions. They have a desire to serve the Body of Christ and are passionate about sharing the Good News. A Timothy is not a lukewarm Christian! Instead, a Timothy keeps even the oldest and most mature Christian on his or her toes.
If the Lord leads prospective Timothy your way, please be prayerful about accepting their request to sit at your feet and learn. If you accept to mentor an individual, you are taking on a time commitment. Some Timothy relationships may be young believers. Others are Christians who have walked a lukewarm walk for many years. Only now, later in life, has the Holy Spirit successfully in stoked the fire and passion within them. Either way, to mentor is to be available.
God crosses paths for a reason, so think twice before turning down such an honor. If you are caught up in your own personal struggles, you might not feel like taking on another service for God. However, consider why the Lord brought this Timothy to you at this particular time. Is it only so that you can share your wisdom and knowledge, or is it to get your eyes off your difficult circumstances and back on God? When we teach our own children, don’t we need to practice what we preach? Maybe the Holy Spirit will use this new believer to encourage and teach you, just as Timothy did for Paul.
Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 (NKJV)
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.