Throughout our lives there are other people that are helping to shape and mold us. They teach us how to give and receive love, what grace is, how to worship, how to confess, how to apologize and a host of other lessons. This training may not take place in a formal classroom. In reality it is more likely that we learn this through living life together. We observe and experience these lessons. We often think of teaching or mentoring to be a formal setting and there is nothing wrong with this process being formalized as long as it includes doing life together. If all we do is fill our heads with knowledge that never translates into our lives, our actions, our relationships our training is incomplete at best. If we are honest it is easier to study about these ideas than it is to live them. It is easier to study about grace than it is to extend grace to someone who has hurt us. It is easier to study love than it is to love those who are difficult. So much of the faith is caught not taught.
In Acts 11 Barnabas is sent by the church to investigate the work of God among the Hellenists. When he finishes his work, Barnabas seeks Paul in Tarsus and takes him to Antioch. They spend a whole year gathering with the church there teaching them and learning from them. Barnabas did life with Paul. Spiritual growth takes place in the midst of life. Practice and study are important but at some point the lessons learned have to be implemented in everyday life. There is no doubt in my mind that there were many side conversations between Paul and Barnabas as they did life together. In the middle of these conversations is where we flesh out our faith. They would eventually leave on missionary journeys and begin to impact others. There are multiple transitions that take place in this relationship. In Acts 13, Paul seems to take the leadership role that Barnabas had held throughout their relationship. This is seen in that the names are reversed. No longer are they referred to as Barnabas and Paul, but Paul and Barnabas. In Acts 15:36-41 there is a sharp division over John Mark that breaks up the dynamic team. They both move forward in ministry and flourish. Paul would eventually call for John Mark saying he was profitable for his ministry. Investing in someone else may only be for a period of time. Use the opportunity given to you and when it is time for them to move on rejoice.
So, the question becomes who are you investing in?