In life, we need friends. But, we need different kinds of friends. From Paul's life, we can see some of the different kinds of friendships we need. I think we need in life:
- a Barnabas,
- a Paul,
- a Timothy,*
- and other companions.
Paul and Barnabas were close friends. Barnabas helped Paul get started in the ministry (Acts 11:19-26). After that, their names are mentioned together as a pair twenty times in just a few chapters of Acts: Paul and Barnabas, Barnabas and Paul. These two spent quite a bit of time together preaching the Good News; they were co-workers in ministry. Paul and Barnabas also had the freedom to "disagree strongly" with each other (Acts 15:36-40). We all need friends who we can accomplish like-mind goals with, people who will be there with us and have the same vision and heartbeat that we do, but who are not afraid to challange us and hold us accountable to truth.
In addition to needing friends to walk along side us, we need friends who can mentor us and friends who we can mentor. In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul calls Timothy his "true child in the faith." It is obvious in his letters to Timothy that Paul is teaching and guiding Timothy, taking him under his proverbial wing. I have always treasured the "Pauls" in my life, older women who have walked the path before me who can help me to follow it. And, the same for me--to look back and help the others coming behind me. I think it is important that we have mentors in our life and that we mentor others as well.
I often tend to picture Paul "out there" on his own trailblazing and spreading the gospel alone. But that is not an accurate picture. Paul had other companions, male--Titus, Silas, Luke, Mark, Apollos, Epaphroditus, Aquila--and female--Pricillia, Phoebe, Lydia, Euodia, and Syntyche--just to name a few of his brothers and sisters in the Lord. In Paul's letters to the various churches, he mentions some by name sending greetings or thanking for help sent. Paul clearly had many friends who he lived in close communion with and considered beloved.
I too need others. I need to be supported and helped. I need comapionship and fellowship. Friendships and friends in all shapes and sizes are needed!
I may be walking an unknown path, but I do not walk it alone--praise the Lord!
*This idea is not originally mine. I once heard a speaker in college talk about finding in our lives a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. His idea of types of friends to seek out has never left me.