Australia is a highly individualistic culture. We seek to solve our own problems, manage our own finances, and even focus on our own ways of interacting with God in our individual quiet times. We often put significant amounts of pressure on ourselves to achieve goals or outcomes and see our need to rely on others as weakness. Barnabas’s relationship with Saul reminds us that in God’s Kingdom there is a better way.
When we think of the book of Acts we often think of the ministry of Paul, his various trips to different locations and we can risk seeing him as an individual super apostle! In today’s passage we see the role that Barnabas played teaching and ministering aside Saul. Many gentiles were coming to the Lord, so Barnabas went and got Saul to come and help him with the work. The order of their names suggests that Barnabas was apprenticing Saul in this ministry. Later in the book of Acts we see the order of their names reverse as Saul, who becomes Paul, is released into ministry with Silas. There is a discipleship process beginning when Barnabas takes Saul under his wing in Acts 9, and continues as he is equipped to be the leader we see in the later chapters of Acts.
Discipleship is a process of apprenticeship as we learn to live like Jesus. It requires that we both submit to the teaching and training of another person, and in time, we seek to teach and train others. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Spirit and faith. He didn’t seek to lord his position or knowledge over Saul but was a man of encouragement as he worked alongside him. We are called as disciples, not to be individual super stars, but to be learners who continually seek to learn alongside others. We are called to both submit to the process of learning alongside others, and humbly teach where we have wisdom to share. Spend some time reflecting on who God might be asking you to learn from and who you might be able to teach and guide as they seek to grow as disciples of Jesus.