We often think of Paul as one of the ultimate mentors in the Bible, and he certainly did serve in a mentorship role to many people and churches. However, he also had a mentor himself. Keep in mind that Paul was not always a Christian. In the beginning, he even persecuted Christians. It was only after a very dramatic conversion that he found the Lord, and of course, he needed the mentorship of someone else: Barnabas.
Paul had gotten a very bad reputation because he had persecuted the Christians so much (he was present at more than one stoning). So, when he tried to convince others that he had converted, most were too afraid to even come close to him.
“When he came to Jerusalem, he was attempting to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 9:26-28)
Barnabas already had a good reputation as a teacher among the early Christians. When he vouched for the newly converted Paul, the other Christians took his word.
This is a good example of one of the roles or mentors. They have to set the kind of example and build up the kind of trust in others that people feel comfortable taking their words to heart. When a mentor serves as a good example, and they say good things about someone else, that other person will immediately gain in their reputation as well.
Working Together as Teachers
One of the most important things a mentor can do is lead by example. Barnabas understood this and when he went to one area called Tarsus, he took Paul with him. For a year, he preached in the churches in Tarsus and he helped Paul become a preacher on his own during that time.
“Then when he (Barnabas) arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul (Paul); and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:23-26)
Most people don’t realize that Barnabas played such as important role in the beginnings of Christianity. However, while he was mentoring Paul, he actually took part in the start of the church that could become known as Christian.
Sponsoring Something Big
Barnabas was a sponsor and mentor to Paul. As a result, he started something very big. Not only did he play a key role in the beginning of the Christian church, but he also spurred the Christian growth of someone who would mentor many more people. It sort of works as a flow chart. Barnabas mentored Paul. Paul then mentored many others, including Timothy who was the mentor to many others.
This is what mentors need to understand about the importance of their role. A mentor has the capability of changing the future so to speak, not just for the person they mentor, but also for the many people who are mentored after them.
Think about dropping a pebble into a pool of still water. When the pebble hits the water, small ripples begin to form and spread outward. They get bigger and bigger as they spread out.
This is the duty of the mentor. The first mentor is the pebble that hits the water. As the ripples spread out, they form more ripples. This would be the many mentees and mentors that come after that original mentor.
Mentors have a lot of power in their hands, and if they use it properly as Barnabas did, they can have a positive effect on many generations in the future.
Another thing that the mentoring relationship between Barnabas and Paul exhibits is the power of changing a bad reputation. Paul was known for the negative things he did before he was converted. Christians would have never trusted him on his own. He would never have been able to reach out to others and become a mentor himself if not for the trust Barnabas had in him. However, because Barnabas was so well known and trusted himself, when he trusted in Paul, this changed Paul’s relationship too.
In other words, mentors can help their mentees turn their own reputations around and this should be the goal of those mentors. When someone who has made poor decisions in their past needs help rebuilding their reputation and life, their mentor should serve as that help whenever they can.
Know that I am sending you the best that God has to offer you and I will see you up, up, and over the top.