“There is nothing I like better than conversing with aged men. For I regard them as travelers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to inquire whether the way is smooth and easy or rugged and difficult. Is life harder toward the end, or what report do you give it?”
There is no doubt that God has created us for community and what a special relationship can be found in the mentor-mentee relationship.
We look at history and there they are. Jethro serving as mentor to Moses, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and the disciples, Baranbas and Paul, Paul and Timothy. Relationships that shaped our world.
I was especially struck by the mentor-mentee relationship of Barnabas to Paul and John Mark, what qualities stand out in this relationships?
The church was growing, Jew and Gentile was turning their hearts to Jesus. Paul had been miraculously converted form a persecutor of “The Way” to a follower and preacher of the gospel.
The Christians of the day feared him and did not believe that he was now a disciple.
Barnabas recognized Paul’s (then Saul) authentic faith and potential for leading. He took Paul to the apostles on which the church accepted him and the spreading of the gospel would take an upward turn because of this.
A mentor takes the risk to give the potential leader the opportunity.
Barnabas’ generosity is seen when he sells his field to give the money to the apostles for furthering the Kingdom works.
When news of the growing church in Antioch reaches Jerusalem, the council send Barnabas to investigate. Barnabas finds the situation to be of good repute and sets off to find Paul (then Saul) in Tarsus to help with the pastoring the growing church.
Barnabas knowing Paul’s character is not threatened by his skill, qualities, and potential. He chooses Paul to experience this novel experience with him and train him up for greater things.
The potential of greater leaders does not threaten a mentor.
Barnabas is called the “son of encouragement”. When faced with the conflict situation between John Mark and Paul, Barnabas chooses not to abandon John Mark and give him another chance, being an encouragement to him and an example to Paul.
Later, John Mark and Paul reconciles their relationship, something Barnabas their mentor modeled to both.
A mentor forgives, guides and encourages.