Friday, June 6, 2008

Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy

I once heard it said that everyone should have a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. "Huh?" you say.

Paul was a first century Christian who became a missionary to many regions of Greece, and eventually to Rome. But he didn't do it alone. He went with various partners who stuck with him through imprisonments and beatings. One of these was a man named Barnabas, which incidentally means "Son of Encouragement". Starting to make sense now?

Then Paul trained a young man to take over from him, a man named Timothy. He wrote two letters to him, full of wisdom about how to lead and care for people in ministry. Everything Paul knew, he passed on to this young man in a mentorship setting.

So, if we are each to have a Paul, Barnabas, and a Timothy, that means we each need a mentor (like Paul was to Timothy), a partner (like Barnabas was to Paul), and a successor (like Timothy was to Paul). In order to live an effective life, we need to learn from someone wiser than we are, have one or more friends who can encourage and work with us, and to pass on our wisdom to someone else who can continue our life's work long after we're gone.

So who's your Paul, your Barnabas, your Timothy? Are you well grounded in this concept? The Paul-Timothy relationship is like a lake with a river flowing in and a river flowing out. If you don't have an inlet, your lake dries up. If you don't have an outlet, it gets stagnant. Maybe you have one of these, or neither. Maybe you've isolated yourself, as I have done in the past. Just remember, God never meant for us to do this thing alone -- He made us to be a team! So find yourself a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy!


Glenn G. Poole II said...

I agree with your thoughts here. The biggest challenge seems to be coming upon that "Paul". True sages, men and women of age, experience, wisdom and revelation - who are willing to "timothy" the younger and more inexperienced - are shockingly rare in our society. After years of searching, I am finding myself turning directly to God Himself to fill that role.

Blessings to you.

Jeff Turnbull said...

Hi Erin.

Great post

I came across your Blog while trying to find a simple to understand piece about the three relationships of Paul, Barnabas and Timothy.

Thanks for sharing


dorcas said...


How would it be if Paul said that to Barnabas? No one is immune and we all need each other in the family of Christ.