If you are like me and ready to elevate your life to a higher level then there is one move you absolutely must make. Follow people who are at a higher level. It seems pretty obvious. But, the reality is that most people who desire to be an elite spouse, parent, minister, athlete, or businessperson don’t achieve it because they don’t follow the right people. They don’t have mentors. Yet, mentors are so hard to find. The answer may be in finding your model rather than your mentor. Yet, too often, we fail to identify either.
The problem is understandable.
We associate with our peers because they are likeminded. We can relate to them on many levels. We have many ideologies and behaviors in common. It is important to have a strong peer network for accountability and encouragement.
We reach out to those in need because we have experience and ideas that we believe can help them. Our compassion to make a difference compels us to reach out to those who can benefit from our gifts. It is imperative to reach those in need for perspective and humility.
I really like the oft-used ministry-development rubric that we all should “Be a Barnabas. Train a Timothy. Pursue a Paul.”
Barnabas was an encourager. He worked alongside others including Paul and Timothy encouraging their success. He was a staunch advocate. When others doubt Paul and Timothy’s veracity, Barnabas believed in them. In addition to his physical presence, scripture (Acts 4:36) shows that he also put his money where his mouth is in selling his own possessions to support the work of the Early church.
Many of us understand and walk in a Barnabas anointing. Others achieve success because we advocate for them.
In my own life, I have many Barnabas relationships—other marriage and family educators, coaches, ministers, business leaders with whom I share ideas and dreams. I value these relationships.
Timothy represents another key type of relationship—traininee or mentee. Timothy, a younger and less experienced believer, was mentored by Paul (despite Paul’s initial reluctance). Paul’s extensive missiological experience served as a deep reservoir from which Timothy drew. Paul ultimately referred to Timothy as “a son in the faith”, connoting the deep bond that he felt as his mentor.
Again, many of us educate and mentor others—empowering them to be all that God has for them to be. I have many Timothy relationships in my life as well as I proactively reach out to train others on leadership and relationship well-being.
I believe that many of us effectively emulate Barnabas’ encouragement. Many of us train and assist the Timothy figures that God places in our path. While these relationships are vital, they can also be draining—pulling energy from us.
But, there is one type of relationship that seems too often missing—Paul relationships.