A Paul, A Barnabas & A Timothy

Posted by  | Wednesday, October 27, 2010  at 11:14 PM  
I'm not sure if all of you caught the comment Jen left on Hollie's last post, so I wanted to repost it here with a few of my own thoughts on the subject.

Jen wrote...
Great post Hollie. This is definitely my passion as well. The couple my husband and I would consider our mentors early in our adult lives, put it this way: "You should always have at least one Paul, one Barnabas, and one Timothy in your life."

Paul being a more mature believer mentoring you. Barnabas, being a like-minded believer walking in similar circumstances for mutual encouragement and accountability. And Timothy, being a younger believer for you to pour into (mentor/disciple).

I have found that to be a reasonable goal—"at least one". That analogy has helped me to keep a balance — although there are seasons where you have more Pauls or more Timothys — I am not only soaking up wisdom from others, but also sharing. Nor am I going around only encouraging and speaking with people in the same "plane" spiritually as me. I am being challenged to grow and to share. Keeps the balance we all need in perspective.

I was taught this same addage (by the same lovely mentor woman!) and think it is such a wise word.

So, who is my Paul? How did I connect with this person? I have had a few "Pauls" over the years, depending on where I was living. The key to each of these relationships was that I put myself in their path. Today, there are a few women I look to as an example of godly living and that I go to with questions/problems. One would be my pastor's wife, Ann, and another would be a mom in our church family named Ellen, who has three grown children. I purposely look for ways to insert myself in their lives because they have godly, grown children, they are active in our church family, and they have sweet spirits. I invite myself over to their house. I sit with them at group functions. I do all of this because I'm not sure if one of them would sporadically choose to start doing all of that with me. I make it clear that I am open for a relationship and for their wisdom in my life so that they don't shy away from sharing it. For example, I approached Ann about 3 months ago and asked her if she'd be willing to meet with me once or twice to discuss a problem I was having. I told her point blank that I was looking for her to be hard on me and not sympathize with me. I was really struggling with respecting my husband and loving him the way I should. She and I went out for coffee, I explained the situation, and she told me in no uncertain terms that I was sinning and that I needed to love and respect my husband above all else. She really poured into me for that hour, and I know she has been praying for me over the past 3 months. She has approached me once since then to check in and make sure that things were better. I think it can be really helpful to have someone in our lives to speak truth without compromise, and often that is best coming from someone who is older than us.

Who is my Barnabas?I think this one might be easiest for young moms because we are often surrounded by other moms in similar situations to ours. BUT, here's the tough part...are we speaking truth into each other's lives? When we get together, do we encourage and build one another up IN GOD'S WORD? And how do we/would we receive it if a friend spoke truth to us, even truth that's hard to hear. I have two sets of "Barnabases" these days. One would be the POH authors. We often e-mail around to each other with different issues we are facing or what's going on in our lives. And we have opportunity to speak truth to one another. Just a few weeks ago Margaret had opportunity to speak a tough word to me through e-mail. It was hard for her to do it, but it was so good for me to hear it. We are often timid to approach a peer because we don't want to offend. But sometimes we need to offend! Sin can be offensive! :) I need to make sure that my heart is open to hear it when a sister gathers the nerve to talk to me. My other group of "Barnabases" would be the 3 closest friends I have through my church family. I purposely choose to spend time with these ladies throughout my week. I learn from their parenting, I learn from their relationships with their husbands. I want our talk and the way we relate to be Christ-centered and different than the next set of girlfriends down the street. We are more than girlfriends - we are sisters in Christ. So I try to love them, serve them, encourage them, and talk about the Word with them.

Who is my Timothy?You all! :) When I try to answer this question, I start to understand the problem a lot of us face when it comes to discipleship. We all desire to be mentored by an older woman. We all can think of how we relate to and encourage our peers. But then it's hard to think of ourselves as being a mentor to someone else. For me anyhow, it makes it sound like I think I am beyond someone else or teaching them from my vast wisdom. And so I think we often tend to shirk from this relationship. Just like I keep wondering why an older woman doesn't just approach me and ask me if she can mentor me, I probably do the same thing. I think, oh surely no one wants me to mentor them. They will think I'm stupid or arrogant if I say anything. And so I hesitate when I answer this question. I suppose in my mind I see POH as a way of mentoring other moms. And I see myself trying to underhandedly mentor other moms who have just had their first babies. I say underhandedly because I want to be a "mentor" to them, but I don't want them to think I think I know it all and I don't want them to laugh at me for thinking I could mentor them. :) (Do you hear the craziness that goes on in my head sometimes?).

So that is my LONG response to this idea. Any thoughts from you all to share?


Jen said...

Well said, Leah!

Anonymous said...

I am so excited about the focus of this week! I heard a message by Chip Ingram about a Paul, Barnabas and Timothy over a year ago and tried to implement it (and encouraged my husband to do the same). I met with an older lady for several months and my husband met with an older man a few weeks. We tried to get a mentoring program going at church (since this is how the Bible says to operate), and a handful of people did it - for a couple of weeks. But they were so relieved when the first material that we had been using ran out. My mentor and I were the only ones who kept going. We have since changed churches and hope to have a better experience this time. The people at this church are excited about pouring into each other and allow time in their lives for things like this. I'm looking forward to this week of blogs and maybe getting some ideas!

Meg said...

Leah, I really appreciate the encouragement to "put myself in the path" of a Paul. I find that I just plod along without such valuable help, waiting for someone to want to mentor me, when you are exactly right -- I need to be proactive about finding an older woman to mentor me! Thanks for the encouragement!

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