Why All of Us Need a Barnabas

More than one writer has noted that all of us need three relationships: a Paul (a mentor), a Timothy (a mentee), and a Barnabas (a peer/friend). In my own teaching, I argue that all of us need a fourth relationship: that is, a relationship with a lost person with whom we are seeking to share the gospel. If we can’t name that person, we’re likely not burdened enough or intentional enough in sharing the gospel.  

For this post, though, I want to focus on why we need a Barnabas – a friend who just walks with us. Here’s why I think all of us need such a brother or sister in Christ: 

  1. We need someone who hangs out with us regularly to help us grow. Others can influence us from a distance, but all of us need somebody who’s face-to-face with us regularly. We need someone who comes beside us and walks the gospel around us at all times; in fact, that person is often the best one to incarnate the gospel for us.   

  1. We need someone who understands our struggles. The person who can best pray with us and help us fight our battles is the person who has fought, or is fighting, the same battles. Ideally, that friend is also one who is winning those battles.  

  1. We need someone who pushes us to play. Beginning with me, many of us are workaholics who make an idol of our work or ministries. We don’t rest enough, and we certainly don’t relax enough. Thus, all of us need a friend who pushes us to play more.  

  1. We need someone who can best read our eyes and our body language. By that phrase, I mean someone who knows when our words don’t match truth – that is, when we’re lying. It’s usually the person who is around the most who learns to do that.  

  1. All of us need an encourager. That’s the essence of being a “Barnabas.” It’s saying to a friend, “We’re in this together, so let’s keep going forward.” It’s spurring us on to good works, commending us in faithfulness, rejoicing with us in victories, and picking us up when we fall. Even if we think we don’t need this person today, we will need this person some day.  

May I be honest with you about why I’ve written this post? I have a Paul, a Timothy, and a lost person.  I have great colleagues (some with whom I meet regularly), but I’m not sure I have enough brothers who help me to play. Would you pray with me that God might connect me with those folks?    

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