I heard a guy say everyone needs to be a Paul, Barnabas and Timothy to somebody. Then I heard them say that everyone needs to have a Paul, Barnabas and Timothy in their own life. I love this analogy. Paul is the teacher. Paul is the writer. Paul is the one discipling you. Barnabas is the encourager. Barnabas is the greatest wingman to ever live. Timothy is the student. Timothy is the young leader of the church in Ephesus. Timothy is Paul’s student.
Now, this is my encouragement to my generation. Work extremely hard to be a Timothy, work really hard to be a Barnabas, and spend the least time being a Paul. Yes, mentor someone. Disciple someone. But don’t miss where you are for the world. Be teachable.
One of my favorite leaders, Andy Stanley, has a podcast built around young leaders going “further, faster”.
Well, here’s the deal young leaders. If you want to go further, faster then surround yourself with as many Paul’s as you possibly can. You have to be teachable. Look at the way people live their lives. Look at their marriages. Their excitement to encourage others in the way of the Lord. Look at people who have something to teach you. Then do this:
Learn from them.
See, most young leaders I know have a horrific lid on their leadership, and that is they think they know everything. Good grief, if you walked through the Bible building when I was at Oklahoma Christian, you would think that every student in there from Freshman to Senior was the new professor of New Testament, Old Testament, Greek, Philosophy, and Theology.
There were so few “experts” and so few “pupils”.
This was my attitude for quite a bit in college. I needed to prove myself. I needed to show that I knew what was up in the Scriptures. If I’m not careful, that attitude can creep back in quickly.
If you want to be successful, stop trying to be Paul to everyone. You’re not. Sorry, you’re not. You’re Timothy. The difference maker between most people in my generation and Timothy is that Timothy actually wanted to learn. Most of us think we know everything. Trust me. You don’t. That’s why you need to be teachable now.
So here is my suggestion. Look around at the most loving, generous, courageous, faithful, smartest, wisest people you know (then ask around to find out the ones you don’t know) and then go hang out with them. Buy them breakfast, lunch or dinner. Ask them about themselves. Ask them about their lives. Then ask them the most important questions you can ask. Make sure you take your moleskin with you so that you can write down what they told you. You probably won’t agree with everything they say. This probably isn’t even your time to disagree. This is a great time for you to just ask more questions, and continue to listen. Thank them. Encourage them. Go home and pray for them. Then chew up the meat and spit out the bones. In other words, use the words that weigh in. Don’t throw the bones away though. The things you thought were bones might be very good meat for you before long. It may just be tough for you to chew up right now.
Be a Timothy. Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. Fill your mind with what you don’t already know, and when they tell you, don’t say you know it. You don’t. And if you do, they don’t want to hear that.
It’s so important for you to be a Timothy first and foremost right now, then a Barnabas, and finally a Paul. At some point in life, God may switch your stage and put the priority to be Barnabas, Timothy, and Paul. Don’t plan beyond there. God will do the rest.