Theme of the Week: Disciple-Makers
Bible Verse: So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant. Acts 13:4–5 NLT
Scripture Reading: Acts 13:1-12; 15:36-41; Colossians 4:10–11; 2 Timothy 4:11
Did you know the idea of mentoring originated over 3000 years ago in Greek mythology? Mentor was a character in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca, went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseus’s son, Telemachus. In other words, Mentor was the original mentor.
Mentoring might be an ancient concept, but being a “self-made man” is more of a modern myth. Most of us would not be where we are today were it not for some instrumental individuals—parents, friends, teachers, coaches, and pastors—who believed in us when no one else did.
The early church was established by key disciple-makers and mentors like Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas was known as the “son of encouragement,” which was more than just a name – it was his character and identity.
Paul and Barnabas took a young John Mark (cousin to Barnabas) under their wing and into their missionary work. But something happened on these journeys that caused John Mark to desert the mission and his mentors. This caused a great deal of friction, and when Paul refused to bring John Mark on their next missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas parted ways. Paul moved on with Silas, and Barnabas took John Mark back.
The “son of encouragement” didn’t give up on John Mark but moved forward with him in the mission. Something must have worked in that mentoring relationship because later, the Scriptures record that Paul reconciled with John Mark and recognized his ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). But that’s not all. In addition to his ministry, John Mark is also considered by many scholars to be the author of the Gospel of Mark and is believed to have played a vital role in the spread of the Gospel in Egypt.
John Mark’s future was tied to someone who did not give up on him, believed in Him, and helped him discover his true identity and purpose. Discipleship and mentoring are key to unlocking our God-given potential.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for my identity in you as your son and as your servant. Help me not give up on those around me who are struggling to find their true identity and purpose. Please, help me to be a “son of encouragement” today. Amen.
Reflection: Maybe you know a John Mark whose future hinges on someone not giving up on them, helping them discover their identity, and encouraging them to live inside that new reality. Think about how you can be an encouragement practically and tangibly.
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