We all need to be intentional about fostering multiple relationships to be effective ministers of the Good News and to continually become the people God created us to be. To have a full perspective, we need a variety of relationships in different stages. We need someone ahead of us who will provide sound counsel and help guide us, someone we are bringing along on the journey, and trusted peers who journey with us, providing encouragement, admonishment, and community.
This is a simple Biblical truth modelled by the apostle Paul, among many others.
What can we learn from Paul’s relationships?
ONE: Paul was not a lone ranger and consistently focused on building relationships with others. What relationships are lacking in your life and ministry right now? We all need a “Paul” in our lives. Paul was a servant (of the Lord and His church) and as a result he was able to see his ministry through this important lens. Paul was a mentor to Timothy, he was an Apostle to the Gentiles, he was an encourager, a theologian, and an apologist. We also need a “Timothy” whom we mentor and pour our own lives into. We need a “Barnabas” to encourage us along the way. We need a “Nathan” who will rebuke us when we step out of line and hold us accountable. The God we serve is a Triune God and we are created for relationships and need to allow the Spirit of God to help us redeem this area of life.
TWO: Relationships have their limitations. In 2 Tim 4:9-18 we read of the limitations of Paul’s relationships and pick up on the disappointments that often come because of expectations we may set based on the relationships we cultivate. We are to place a higher value on our vertical relationship with God than on the horizontal relationships with those around us. When friends desert us and people around us disappoint us, it is God who stands by our side. Paul says: “…the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Tim 4:17).
THREE: In a team we should value spiritual accomplishments and qualities over productivity. Looking at the list above, do you notice how Paul makes more reference to the spiritual qualities that serve God’s Kingdom than the practical skills we can all develop. Paul never commended anyone for busyness, yet this has become an important metric for those in ministry. Paul never celebrated the attainment of titles, perhaps his greatest title was “servant of the Lord”. Paul’s metric for success did not lie in numbers, and neither did Jesus’. Paul has many desert him (2 Tim 4) and Jesus often saw the multitudes turn away (Mk 10:17ff; Jn.6:66). What we should celebrate
is are the spiritual accomplishments that serve to advance the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and help refocus our earthly perspective.
FOUR: Acknowledge and celebrate the diverse contributions that make every team win. Paul mentioned various kinds of people in the closing greeting to the church in Rome. This is a helpful reminder for each of us to acknowledge, affirm, and show affection for every person’s individual contribution. God is a creative innovator who has gifted the church with such immense beauty which comes through individual and diverse expression.
Who is in your constellation? No one is an island; we are created to be in community and to have deep and meaningful relationships. This is especially true of those in ministry! If we are going to shine brightest for the Lord, it will be as a result of the constellation of mentors we surround ourselves with, reflecting the communal (Triune) nature of the God we serve.
Want to Learn More?
Connect with us to help spread the gospel around the world.