Who do you have in life that’s there for you in both the good and the bad? The one who celebrates with you on the mountaintops and the one that is there for support in the valleys of life. The truth is, we all need the love, care, and support of others. We have an innate desire to be known deeply by others. But it can be difficult to open up about the darker corners of our hearts. The things that we try to hide away from everyone else and the things we wish nobody every found out about. In the last week of our series Scoreboard, we see that the ninth marker of someone growing in their faith is that they have someone who has permission to the darker corners of their life. Someone who can ask the tough questions, and check in on how the REAL you is doing.



Scoreboard: We are in the final week of this series covering the markers of a growing Christ Follower. These nine habits serve as the indicators and gauges of our faith.

Final Habit: Encouraging – Helping friends grow in their faith. 

Proverbs 27:17  As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

This is the kind of friend God wants you to be. The kind of friend that helps your friends to grow in all of these habits. Today, we’re talking about three different guys and how their relationships together model what this habit looks like for us today.

Paul, Timothy and Barnabas 

It was their friendship outside of the Sunday meetings that made the impact.

Acts 9:26-28  26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! (His reputation was that of a persecutor and murderer) 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.  28 So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.

Barnabas, because of his reputation and his willingness to extend grace to a man no one else would, helped Paul to launch his ministry. We would have never had Paul without Barnabas going out of his way to help him. Barnabas is the ‘son of encouragement.’ He’s the kind of friend we all want to have. 

We can all think of times when someone showed us grace and it changed everything.

Who do you need to give grace to right now? Who around you needs some extra grace?

Acts 13:1-3 Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen , and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

Paul and Barnabas began a close friendship together. The kind of friendship we all want.

They rubbed off on each other. Barnabas shows Paul what it means to live with love and grace towards the people around them. Paul shows Barnabas what it means to venture to new places and share the Gospel.

Paul and Barnabas model the kind of encouraging friendship God wants us to have.

Marker: I actively participate in a Growth Group. 

Growth Group: 2-3 people meeting every month for encouragement and accountability

You are meeting together in a regular pattern. You’re agreeing to how much Scripture you read ahead of time. And you all need to be mutually invested in it together. If one person has to always initiate and get it going, this isn’t going to work. Someone has to take the first step. Someone has to be the Barnabas to go out of their way to initiate this. But that person shouldn’t always have to lead it.

Growth Group Questions: 

How has God made his presence known to you this week? What is God teaching you? How are you responding to his prompting? Is there someone you need to share Christ with this next week? Is there any sin in your life that I can help you with or pray for this week?

If you don’t have someone you are meeting with regularly to have these conversations, start to pray about who that could be. Who will you commit to helping grow in their faith?

Acts 15:36-38 After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” (a few months have passed) 37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.  

Barnabas was willing to take a chance on John Mark, just as he had with Paul. Ironically, Paul doesn’t want to pass on this grace to him though. Barnabas was thinking about what was best for John Mark’s development. Paul was thinking about what was best for the mission.

Acts 15:39-40  39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas (who was a ‘qualified’ Roman like him), and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care.41 Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.

They get into an argument and go their separate ways. But because they are close friends, they stay in touch. They keep having influence in each other’s lives.

Because of the kind of friend Barnabas is to Paul, he eventually rubs off on him. Paul begins living out the same things that Barnabas modeled for him. He takes a chance on other young leaders. He begins to bring young leaders like Timothy along with him to mentor.

2 Timothy 1:3-4  3 Timothy, I thank God for you – the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.

See how different Paul’s attitude is to this, now? He willingly pursues young leaders.

This is what healthy leadership looks like – multiplication. The sign of a good leader is how they are reproducing themselves in other leaders.

2 Timothy 1:5-8a  5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self- discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

Marker: I pursue mentoring relationships. 

Not By Accident: This has to be an intentional friendship that has certain agreements and a common understanding.

Meet regularly, agree on what scripture you’ll read, be honest with each other, pray for each other and commit that you won’t let each other fall away from God

Everyone needs a hand up and a hand down

Paul had Barnabas as a hand up and Timothy was his hand down. Paul expected that Timothy would have a hand down also…

2 Timothy 2:1-2  Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Good leadership isn’t just how you lead. It’s how the people you lead lead other people. 

Who is your hand up? Who is your hand down?

Marker: I offer unlimited grace to my friends. 

Here’s the beauty of this story. Paul and Barnabas don’t end on a bad note. Because Paul learned to show grace and mercy, God changes his heart.

2 Timothy 4:9-11 9 Timothy, please come as soon as you can. 10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry.

Paul goes from “this guy is worthless” to “I can’t do ministry without this guy.”

The one thing that makes the entire new testament after Acts 9 possible is that there was one man who offered unlimited grace to others who had given up on them. Barnabas shows up at the beginning of Paul’s story. Barnabas shows up at the end of his story. You don’t need to be a pastor to make a difference in the kingdom of God! But you do have to be more intentional in your friendships.


Who can you ask to meet with on a regular basis for spiritual  growth and friendship?

Who can you ask to mentor you?

Who can you mentor?

Who do you need to show grace towards?

God took a chance on you by giving you grace. And now he’s asking you to do the same.

You are who you are today because people encouraged you and helped you. Now God wants you to do the same in someone else. Who can you impact?