His mother, Mary, had begun to follow Jesus from Jesus' first visits to Jerusalem and was willing to offer her home for his use even in the risky last days of Jesus' ministry (Mark 14:13-15). So Mark had been a silent witness in the upper room during Jesus' last days.
He had followed the Lord to the Garden of Gethsemane and stayed when the apostles left until the mob stole his clothes and he had to run away (Mark 14:51-52).
He had been there in the upper room of his mother's house praying when the Holy Spirit came that great day of Pentecost (Acts 1:12-14).
And after Pentecost, the apostles continued to meet at his mother's house (Acts 4:23-31; Acts 12:12). During this time, Peter took Mark under his wing and began to tell him many things about Jesus' ministry and teaching.
He was later chosen by Barnabas to accompany him and Paul on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3).
And now, here he sits, devastated for having caused the great mission team to split up (Acts 15:36-40).
He had heard the whispers when he returned home early from the mission trip (Acts 13:13): Loser, mama's boy, he couldn't hack it, quitter — that's what many called him. And now, Barnabas had stuck his neck out for him again causing a huge argument with Paul. The great missions team split up over Barnabas wanting to take a risk on him the second time! Barnabas, son of encouragement — the reclaimer of the broken and forgotten, the one who saw potential in the young and unproven — stayed true to his passion. So did Paul, the one who wanted to push on to new missionary outreaches (Romans 15:20-22).
There are two kinds of leaders, groups and churches. Both kinds are faithful. Both kinds are risk-takers — one takes risks on new things and the other takes risks on new people and unproven people. Both kinds involve and equip others to missions and ministry. Both kinds change the world for God's Kingdom. Both kinds face attack and challenges from the evil one.
The truth is, there are far too few of either of these kinds of leaders, groups and churches. Most leaders, groups, and churches don't take risks, are happy to just do housekeeping, and spend their time trying to keep folks happy. But these two types of missional groups do exist. They are:
- Paul types — driven, passionate, eyes on the target, don't look back, full steam ahead
- Barnabas types — people sensitive, second-chance-giving, see the potential in young or broken folks who could be useful to the Kingdom.
All over the Kingdom of God today are those who have been inspired and equipped and restored because of Barnabas-hearted churches. There are many inspired today by the Paul type churches that push clearly for their sense of mission and are not deterred to the right or left by fad, trend, or proven practices — they are always looking to find ways to reach out and fulfill their sense of mission.
Along the way for either type, there heartaches, disappointments, and setbacks. These types of churches will make mistakes and have embarrassing moments. Those are the risks you take. And these groups might not always agree on methodology or timing, but both are determined to reach the lost, touch the broken with grace, and build the Kingdom of God.
Paul churches are on the cutting edge pushing into new areas where the gospel has not been effectively shared. Barnabas churches are busy giving young potential leaders, and broken and fallen leaders, the opportunity to lead, serve, and minister. And just as the early church did not split over these two types of leaders when Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways with their separate teams (Acts 15:36-41), neither must we! Paul and Mark reconciled at the end of Paul's life because of the investment of Barnabas in both of them (Acts 9:19-21; Acts 11:22-26; Acts 15:39). And in the latter years of Paul's ministry, Mark was a vital friend and colleague of the old apostle (Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:9-11).
Because of these two types of leaders, the Gentile world was reached for Christ, great leaders were discovered and recovered and restored. So today, it is highly critical for us to ask God to help us know which type of leader, group, or church we are, and get busy working to build the Kingdom, taking risks for the cause of Christ, and trusting that the Lord will empower us to do great things!
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).