In the Book of Matthew Jesus shares some of his most famous words… the Great Commission. He makes it clear that this commission is given with the proper authority and a promise of his companionship. The difficulty with this passage is not either of these points but in what we are being tasked to do. The Great Commission is about making disciples and this charge or commission is given to EVERY believer. He tells us to Go, make disciples, and to baptize and teach. While each of these tasks is important and we must do them all there is one that is weighted heavier than the others by the words that are used in the original language. Which one… make disciples!
Making disciples is what happens when we “go.” It is a result of teaching. Making disciples is physically represented through the symbol of baptism. Everywhere we go this is or commission. But this doesn’t come easy, we have to learn it. That is the whole point of being a disciple. In fact, that is the idea and meaning of the word disciple: a learner. This begs the question. Who do we learn from? Who are we teaching the things we know? Who is doing these things with us? If we are becoming the church God wants us to be then each one of us need to be able to answer these questions with a name. The name of another person. This is modeled to us throughout the bible but most impressively through the Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas relationships.
A disciple needs to be connected to someone they are training, a person they do life with, and a person who is training them. Be doing life with someone who encourages you and walks alongside you. Pursue someone who will teach you everything they know about Jesus. Train someone everything you know about Jesus. Each of these three relationships are critical to your spiritual health and the fulfillment of the Great Commission Jesus has given us.
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 scriptural studies and encouragements, to working through hard times in our marriage or with our kids. 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 on his first missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas were peers, and sent out from the same church in Acts 13. They walked through life and served God together. They were friends and without a doubt, they were mutually built up 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. Jesus also wanted His disciples to be protected, because life could be treacherous. It’s the same for us. When we are alone, we are more vulnerable, but when we are in relationship, someone has our back. We can count on them. 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 with more regularity and depth than our Paul. So ask yourself, “Do I have a Barnabas in my life?”
Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith. Timothy was considerably younger than Paul. 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. We all need to be pouring into someone for their benefit and growth. 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! In the more modern vernacular, this is 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?”
Now you understand the Paul, Barnabas and Timothy model of mentoring and discipling. Can you imagine if every person in our entire church took up this challenge? Can you imagine how much growth would take place? 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. The impact will be eternal!