Barnabas, Paul, Risk and Change

Take a chance on me…

I’ve not managed to post this since Wednesday, although I am a pretty rubbish Anglican, but when I was writing this I discovered today that today is a day when the Church celebrates St. Paul’s day, the great missionary to the gentiles.

I think he is a great example of a missionary (interestingly potentially a rubbish speaker) but he was fruitful in his personal evangelism, but more than that he raised up ordinary Christians to do extraordinary things, a strategic mission released many, many ordinary Christian people to do evangelism and mission.

Yet Paul the great enabler of mission and missionaries, the one who empowered people in the Kingdom cause, did so because he was empowered and equipped by Barnabas, who took a risk on him and invested in him, and gently pulled back. Interestingly how scripture records the exploits of “Barnabas and Saul” initially and then later “Saul and Barnabas”.

Paul was a challenger of the status quo.

Paul challenged the Christians to be changed, and to change what they did, how they did things and how they behaved.

We live in a change resistant culture, especially in the Church, -the joke about the Anglican Church whose moto is “change, what’s change?” Theory of change, but doing it, is often a different a thing. Change is not doing more of the same, or simply doing the same thing louder and on steroids.

“Keep your head in all situations… do the work of an evangelist…and dutifully fulfil all your duties”. 2 Timothy 4 verse 5

Missionary Doctor had to teach other people to do medical things, as when they ‘the Doctor’ weren’t there people died.

For people to survive the Doctors need to do themselves out of a job.

This actual is difficult for us, we love to be needed, often our self-worth is wrapped up in our achievements and our productivity, and stepping back can be painful and costly even if ultimately worth it.

Delegating is wonderful but really hard if they don’t do as good job as you would do.

Delegating is wonderful but really hard if they do a better job than you would do.

I have had both scenarios and both have left me profoundly challenged.

The people might never have the same level of expertise as the Doctor, but they were equipped to be able to save lives.

I have previously blogged about success being redundancy. 

Reaching the stage where I am no longer needed to lead the people in evangelism and mission because they are equipped and confident to do it without me (in fact my heart is that they do it better than me!).

We don’t do mission, we are mission. A better word is about the community being missional.

Mission is not an event but rather a collective way of life.

A picture a lady had at the Fellowship of Parish Evangelists was of the Nile river disturbed by a Motor boat caused water to spray all over the banks of the river- it looked impressive and dramatic- it caused short term watering, of dry land, even looked mildly fruitful for a short term, but long term it wasn’t very fruitful, as it was a big splash not a habitual, regular watering and nurturing.

Hit and run evangelism, will not have a lasting impact without the full support of the local, indigenous body of believers.

Christian Aid has recently popularised the phrase “Give a person a fish you’ll feed them for a day, teach them to fish and they’ll feed themselves for the life-time”.

What of us?

Do we still think of Mission as an Event rather than a way of life?

Are we faithfully watering and nurturing or running around expecting a dramatic ‘motor-boat big fix, which might make us feel good, but isn’t lastingly fruitful?

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Barnabas, Leadership, mentoring, Nurture, Risk and Change, welcome, wisdom

Barnabas style leadership.

“To impact a moment tweet, to impact a season preach, to impact a generation -Mentor a leader” writes Rick Warren of Purpose Driven Life/Church fame.

As I think about mentoring, my mind goes to Barnabas, not a character well known in the Bible, his name means ‘encourager’ -the idea of mentoring is by helping and encouraging a leader they get better and everyone benefits.

Barnabas -one of the great unsung heroes of the bible.

We know that Barnabas is a sacrificial guy he sells a field and lays the money at the apostles feet (some people reckon that he is the unnamed rich young ruler who walked away from Jesus as he loved his wealth too much, if that were so it is a beautiful picture of it being laid at the disciples feet for the sake of the Kingdom).

He takes a risk on S/Paul, gives him opportunities to share his faith (everyone else was too scared of S/Paul because of his horrendous past) yet the risk paid off.

Paul became a fantastic evangelist and apostle.

In the Bible we see the narrator (probably Luke)  change from writing  “Barnabas and Paul” to writing “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 13) as Paul grew in spiritual maturity, confidence, gifting… going places far beyond Barnabas. 

Yet hen S/Paul began to excel, we see an amazing model of humility, Barnabas retreats quietly into the background. Echoes of John the Baptists statement about Jesus “I must decrease so he can increase”…

A great youth work quote is “to see our celling becoming their floor” -our wildest dreams their starting point-  

Paul mentoring the young Timothy, re-read Timothy and there is a real undercurrent of “step up to the plate and go for it”…

It is like a relay race, if Barnabas hadn’t taken a risk on S/Paul and S/Paul hadn’t done the same with Timothy, we might not be sitting here. 

Who is mentoring you?

-Are you humble enough to let people speak into your life positively? –It has to be done from a place of love.

“Iron sharpening Iron as one person sharpens another”. 

Who are you mentoring?

-Are you taking this responsibility seriously?

Are you enabling them to fly, or clipping their wings?

What happens when they over-take you in the race?  

Are you being mentored but not mentoring anyone? –sort it out, find someone to bless, encourage and support! 

Or mentoring without getting mentored? –find wise and Godly people and hang out with them, and invite them to speak into your life. 

If you are not being mentored and not mentoring anyone I would suggest that neither is God’s plan or best for you. 

Mentoring matters probably more now in the UK than any time since St. Augustine as we are (to quote Lord Carey) “nearly one generation away from extinction”… 

How can people be the leaders of the Church of tomorrow unless they are part of the Church of today?

I like the picture of passing on the baton, but interestingly statistics show that teams running relay races it isn’t normally the fasted who in, but rather those who manage the hand over best.

Too often when mentoring we keep hanging on to the baton and not letting our other leaders fly, or perhaps we just drop the baton and let someone else pick it up?

Perhaps we are being reluctant to take the baton that is being passed to us? Or perhaps we are inpatient and trying to snatch it from someone whose not finished with their race.

How can we receive and pass on well? –I believe at the heart of this all is the call to faithfulness in all things, a call afresh for our Churches to be filled with wisdom, or as the world calls it self awareness.

Too often we have a consumerist view of Church, where it is all about us and our needs and desires, but when we think of mentoring we realise that we are in fact custodians of the great truth of being the people of the Kingdom for a short season, and have been entrusted with a great treasure to pass on, yet we also have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants.

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