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3 Indispensable Relationships

Written by Chuck Olson

I love Tuesday night. And Wednesday night. And Thursday night. And Saturday morning…for nine straight months!

Those are the times that I have the extraordinary privilege to come alongside Kingdom leaders who are hungry—hungry to be rock solid on the inside and dangerous for the Kingdom on the outside.

In one of our recent gatherings, we talked about three indispensable relationships—relationships that leaders need as they seek to fulfill God’s endgame of making disciples. A Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy.

• Paul. When you find a “Paul”, you find a spiritual father. This person becomes your mentor, coach, advisor. A Paul is someone who generously welcomes you to dine at the buffet of their life’s experiences—their successes and perhaps more importantly, their failures.

A mentor is someone who generously welcomes you to dine at the buffet of their life’s experiences—their successes and perhaps more importantly, their failures.

Throughout the years, of the many things I have gained from my mentors, two stand out in particular. My mentors have provided me with reliable reference points. When uncertain about what to do in a particular situation, I didn’t have far to look for a trustworthy role model. My mentors also have consistently believed in me, particularly in those early seasons of life and leadership that were peppered with self-doubt and second-guessing.

• Barnabas. When you find a “Barnabas”, you find a spiritual brother. This person is your wingman, the person who covers your blindside. This person is in the battle with you. And is in the battle for you.

A spiritual brother knows you inside out. One who knows your strengths and successes, but also knows your weaknesses and defeats. He knows your dark side—the places you are most tempted to compromise. And this person routinely presses into intentional conversation with you to get a read on the below-the-waterline stuff. Not looking to judge. Not looking to condemn. Just looking to support.

• Timothy. When you find a “Timothy”, you find a spiritual son or daughter. In full appreciation for all those who have invested in you, your “Timothys” are the people into whom you pour. This is the person you seek to coach, mentor, encourage, believe in, call up, and call out.

There are many things that go into a relationship with a Timothy. The gift of unfiltered access to your life and learnings. The gift of time to reflect on the compulsory challenges of life and leadership. The gift of introduction to your circles of influence. And more. But perhaps the greatest gift is to assist in tracing the activity and purposes of God in the life of your Timothy.

One final reflection. Through the years, I have found that certain chapters of life will dictate which of these relationships need to be given center stage. In a season of uncertainty, I need more time with a Paul. In a season of challenge, I need more time with a Barnabas. And in a season of solidarity, I am more deliberate in investing in a Timothy.

What has been your most meaningful experience
with a Paul or Barnabas or Timothy?



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  • Jeff says:

    Thank you Chuck for your reminder of what matters most in terms of how to keep all three of these “indispensable relationships” . You have been a Paul to me, and I am deeply grateful for you.

  • Steve says:

    Over this past year have implemented all three of these into my life and leadership because of your challenge in Rock Solid.

  • Vance says:

    You are solid in your pursuit of what matters most. You have modeled to so many of us how to lead well.

  • Steve Darden says:

    Thank you for your leadership. Since I have been introduced to LWYL I have truly been inspired to grow in the knowledge of God.

  • Janna says:

    Loved this great analogy so very much Chuck. Thank you! God’s grace and mighty blessings fall a fresh on your ministry, Lead with your life!

    Grateful to call you a brother


  • Randel Horton says:

    you always stir, and add symmetry to my life.
    Thank you.

  • Mark says:

    Thanks for the reminder to stay committed to a band of brothers, a group of brothers who know me and can walk with me through thick and thin. For so many years I have been going it alone, and this idea of having others who will join me in the pursuit of living life in accountability, is inspiring and challenging and convicting, all at the same time.

  • John says:

    Thank you for your insights and challenge. I need to do a better job in finding a Barnabas. Seems like this is required for a leader to stay the course, but one that is extremely hard for me to keep fueled. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Gary says:

    Mentors are few and far between in my world. Thank you for being one to me Chuck in more ways than you know. You believe the best in others, you see leadership potential and you call out what you see could be.

  • Paul says:

    Love your intentionality in living your life Chuck. I am deeply grateful for your impact on my life.

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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