One need only read about the life of Jesus and the Apostle Paul to realize the revolutionary power of mentoring.
I have been blessed to have been mentored by some incredible men. Sometimes it was a man that I worked with, usually it has been by going to breakfast/lunch with an “older/wiser” man, occasionally it’s through media like a podcast or leadership training, and a couple of times it has been through a formal process of “mentorship.”
I’ve learned that mentoring, or what we might call “discipleship” (which is a word that does not really occur in the Bible – BTW) can take many shapes and forms. You need to be open to it as both a receiver, but also as a giver.
Jesus went throughout the region of Galilee and he gathered for himself “disciples.” These were young men who followed after Jesus to follow in his footsteps, and they did (at least, 11 of them did). He made disciples, and then he charged them to go out and do the same (cf. Matt 28:16ff).
All of the disciples gathered followers, some even helped to compile their Gospels (cf. John 21:24).
The Apostle Paul was perhaps the best example of this. Listen to what he says to one of his disciples, Timothy:
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Paul was such a great Disciple because he was mentored himself. Not just by Jesus and the other Apostles, but specifically by Joseph. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Joseph? That’s because he’s best known by his nickname “Barnabas” (cf. Acts 4:36).
It is Barnabas who takes young Paul under his wing and ministers alongside him and helps him to develop into the powerful leader in the first century church that he became. Without a Barnabas, there would be no Paul. Without Paul, well, let me just say our faith would look radically different.
This underscores the importance of mentoring. I highly recommend the Radical Mentoring track espoused by Regi Campbell. If you are in your late-40s or above, and you love Jesus, you need to seriously consider starting this process as a mentor.
If you have your Bible, and let’s be real, it’s always a click away on the Internet, why don’t we look at what Barnabas teaches us about what it means to be a mentor:
- Is an encourager (Acts 4:36)
- Has a generous spirit (Acts 4:37)
- Accepts people (Acts 9:26-27a)
- Assimilates people into the body (Acts 9:27b-28)
- Rejoices with others (Acts 11:19-23)
- Has a good reputation (Acts 11:22)
- Is a godly person (Acts 11:24)
- Takes the initiative in helping others (Acts 11:25)
- Involves others in ministry (Acts 11:26)
- Works in submission to the church (Acts 11:22, 30)
- Is blessed by God (Acts 13:1-2)
- Is affirmed by others (Acts 13:3)
- Never does ministry alone (Acts 13:5)
- Establishes disciples (Acts 14:21-22)
- Raises up church leaders (Acts 14-23)
- Is willing to take a risk with a potential leader (Acts 15:36-40)
As a mentor, Barnabas can teach us 3 levels of success within the mentoring process:
- To have a successor (Acts 9:27)
- To have a successor who rises above you (Acts 13:43)
- To have a successor who mentors others (Acts 15:40)
Who were some people who’ve mentored you?
Have you ever been a mentor? Where are you in the process?
What’s stoping you from becoming a mentor or finding one to mentor you?