Every Millennial needs a Paul, a Timothy, and a Barnabas.

Your “Paul” is the mentor who pours his life and wisdom into your life. Your “Timothy” receives the same blessings and mentorship from you. And lastly you surround yourself with an incredible group of “Barnabas” friends who will encourage and challenge you.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

These three constitute my personal board of directors.  They have become firewalls for me against isolation, loneliness and spiritual drift during my twenties.

Every Millennial Needs a “Paul” = Mentor 

Mentors can super-accelerate your success. Talk to anyone you feel is super successful and most likely they will credit a mentor.

During my twenties, I had a variety of mentors in my life. I recognized that today:

  • I would not be a best-selling author if it were not for him.
  • I would not be a Christian if it were not for him.
  • I would not know where I’m going in life if it were not for him.

Here are some of the questions I consistently ask my mentors:

  • At what point did you decide what you would do with your life? 
  • It you could back in your twenties, knowing what you know now, what is one thing you would do differently? 
  • What is your life motto? 
  • What are some defining moments in your life that shaped who you are today? 
  • Is this where you thought would end up? 

If you don’t have a mentor yet, here’s how you can start. Write down the names of three people who you admire and could be mentors to you. Choose someone you know or could get to know. Over the next few weeks, establish a time to interview them. Do whatever it takes – make multiple phone calls, write a letter, send an e-mail, or stop by to set up a time to meet.

Every Millennial Needs a “Timothy” = Mentee

You may be wondering whether you are cut out to serve as another person’s mentor. After all, you’re a twenty-something and still haven’t “figured out” life yet. Answer these questions by William Hendricks to help you evaluate your suitability:

Every Millennial Needs a “Barnabas” = Friend

Barnabas (son of encouragement) always seemed to be looking for someone to encourage people. Paul had seemingly been overlooked by the established church and bypassed for meaningful ministry assignments. But Barnabas remembered. Because of Barnabas’ influence, the Antioch church found a place for Paul and helped him develop trusted relationships and a respected teaching ministry. Eric Geiger shares three type of friends or “Barnabas'”we need in life.

  • A “Been There” Friend – A “been there” friend is someone who is more experienced than you, someone who has walked the road longer than you have. A “been there” friend is someone you can seek input from and who offers you insight. You need a friend you respect enough to listen to and who loves you enough to tell you the truth. A true “been there” friend offers you constructive feedback so you can grow and mature. Without a friend you can rely on for wisdom, your growth will be stunted.
  • A “Join Me” Friend – A “join me” friend is someone you invite along for the journey, someone you invest in, someone you develop. Leaders are responsible for future leadership, so leaders must invite others to join them. Not only are new leaders developed, but the leader is also impacted. If you are not inviting others to join you, you are leading in isolation and not serving well.
  • A “No Matter What” Friend – A “no matter what” friend is the person who will stick with you through seasons of pain and seasons of joy. A “no matter what” friend always has your back. A constant friend increases your courage.

If you’re a Millennial, remember that you need a Paul to guide you, a Timothy to help you mature, and a Barnabas to encourage you. 

Paul Sohn is a leadership coach, best-selling author and speaker. Paul is the founder and CEO of QARA. Paul is a best-selling author of Quarter-Life Calling: Finding Your God-Given Purpose in Your Twenties. Paul was named one of the Top 33 under 33 Christian Millennials to Follow by Christianity Today.