Monday, April 14, 2008

Hi. I'm Barnabas.

But at other times I'm Paul. I think I spend most of my days as Timothy though.

Dr Howard Hendricks, Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, is credited with saying "Every person should seek to have three individuals in their life: a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy." I am usually hopelessly out of touch, so even though he said this in 1993, I've just came across it recently.

We are in the process of trying to get small groups started in earnest at our church right now. There seems to be a real need and desire for a couples/marriage ministry so, following on the attendance of several church members at Family Life's Weekend to Remember, we have decided to use the HomeBuilders Couple series to get started. To help get us going, we asked someone with lots of experience leading HomeBuilders groups to come in and speak to our "core" team.

In his talk, the speaker introduced the concept of having a Paul to follow, a Timothy to mentor, and a Barnabas to partner with. Now it seems to me that the role of Paul is pretty clear and popularly known: the older guy who has been there, done that, and now dispenses wisdom and guidance to you. And while some what lesser known in most cases, the Timothy role is pretty easily identifiable for many: the younger person who has a mentor or guide and is seeking spiritual growth.

The Barnabas role was the one that kind of took me by surprise. I recalled the name fro Acts But I had never really given much thought to who he was or if he was important. My first impression was related to facts: Barnabas traveled with Paul in Acts while Paul went from place to place and did a lot of great stuff. But once he was brought up in this new light of importance, I began to get who Barnabas really was: Paul's ally, his friend, his partner, his buddy, Sundance to Paul's Butch Cassidy (minus the violence and bank robbery). I can imagine times where Paul looked across the breakfast table at Barnabas and said, "Well, what do you think? You wanna do it?" and Barnabas replies "Oh yeah, I'm in!"
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2-3, NIV)

As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. (Acts 13:42-43, NIV)

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:46, NIV)

So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. (Acts 14:3, NIV)

Now, recognizing the importance if Barnabas, I see where I have played that role for others several times before. But my struggle is to find the Barnabas in my life right now. I can be fiercely independent and stubborn when it comes to getting something done. Most of my life I have considered asking for help to be a big sign of weakness. This has hurt some of my relationships and probably stopped others all together. I've come to understand that my relationships with people are often a good barometer of my relationship with God (from my side). And asking for help is a major struggle.

So I'm looking for the Barnabas in my journey right now. For my work on the small group ministry, for my daily walk with God, and for many other things I have or will have going on.

Is there someone playing the Barnabas role for you right now? What are they doing to be Barnabas for you? How has it helped you?


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