The Need of a Mentor

August 15 — Acts 11:19–26

I have had some significant mentors in my life. These men have modeled the Christian life in real, imperfect ways — after all, none of us are perfect. But the lives they lived were authentic, committed lives and they helped me grow in my relationship with Christ. Over time, I “outgrew” some of these mentoring relationships. What I needed to continue to grow, certain mentors were no longer able to provide. So, while our friendships endured, our relationships changed.
In Acts 11, we find Saul in the early years of his Christian walk. While he had been a high-profile leader in the movement to eradicate the Christian church, now he was a feared member of that very same Christian church. How was he to turn the corner and serve his Lord with his newfound faith? Who could help him to grow in this new way of living?
Enter Barnabas. I’m sure Barnabas didn’t seek out Saul on a whim. His life seemed to be one that was sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. So, led by God, Barnabas entered Saul’s life. Interestingly, he brought Saul with him to Antioch — a church that included many believers who had been scattered by the very persecution Saul had endorsed. For an entire year, the two men met with the church and taught great numbers of people. Also during that year, Barnabas mentored Saul.
Saul probably couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Barnabas was many things that Saul was not. While Saul was aggressive and (for lack of better word) bossy, Barnabas was more relational and a great encourager. He seemed to model a softer side of Christian living that Saul (later known as Paul) needed to learn. It is interesting to read some of Paul’s words in his letters in light of where he began in his Christian journey. While with Barnabas, Paul seemed to learn how to relate with people better. He learned how to temper his aggressive nature and present the Word both boldly and, when needed, gently.
Saul needed a mentor who could help him grow in his Christian walk. Do you have someone who can help you like this? Is there someone who can help answer questions, hold you accountable, and model the Christian walk for you? If not, begin thinking about who may provide this needed relationship in your life. Ask God to guide you and lead you to the person that He knows can be your “Barnabas” today.