The successful alliance of Paul and Barnabas broke up unexpectedly over a disagreement regarding John Mark rejoining the alliance. Paul held on to a position that John Mark could not be relied upon as a team member because he deserted the team in an earlier mission. In contrast, Barnabas was adamant on giving John Mark a second chance. They broke up over the “sharp disagreement” and continued with their mission as two separate teams [Acts 15:39–41].
However, their ministry (then two separate ministries) was not diminished: Paul teamed with Silas, Timothy, and others to spread the gospel through Macedonia and Greece. Barnabas successfully mentored Mark, who went on to write the second gospel. Later events showed they remained in good terms and showed interest in each other’s ministry as evidenced by Paul inviting Mark later to join his ministry. Also, Paul’s later interactions with Oneismus and Philemon indicate increased willingness to grant a “second chance” as he judged appropriate. Over all, we learn from Paul-Barnabas breakup that an alliance for the gospel or other human endeavor could experience problems including breakup but such problems need not result in diminished focus on the bigger picture.
Paul and Barnabas teamed up to spread the gospel, shortly after Saul’s conversion to Christ. From their base church in Antioch, which they helped develop, they collaborated on the First Missionary Journey, through which they won numerous converts and established several churches in Europe and Asia and laid the foundation for growth of Christianity worldwide. However, their alliance ended abruptly as they tried to embark on a second missionary journey. In this bible study, we try to learn from their successful alliance and its abrupt termination.
Every person has positive and negative qualities. A person’s positives make him/her more attractive as a potential ally whereas negatives make a person less attractive. Increase and strengthen your positives to make yourself more acceptable, but decrease and weaken your negatives to reduce the chance that people may have to “hold their nose” in order to ally with you. Also, to assess another person for an alliance, such as employment, partnership, marriage, and the like, evaluate both the positives and negatives. A person does not have to be perfect in order to be effective. This bible study provides an example of a person that was effective over a lengthy period despite apparent imperfections.
Are you interested in joining effort with a person or organization toward accomplishing a goal: as a friend, partner, ally, or wife/husband? Do you understand the vision: what is important to the person, why it is important to him/her? what does he or she want to accomplish, and how? Understanding and sharing the vision will help lay a strong foundation for an alliance. Conversely, proceeding into an alliance without understanding or sharing the vision is a step toward eventual failure. We learn about this principle based on a study of David’s interaction with his wife Michal when David led Israelites to bring the Ark of God to Jerusalem.
Interactions between David and Jonathan illustrate a “Perfect Heart for Strategic Alliance.” As the son of 1st king of Israel and 2nd in command to his father, Jonathan had what would appear a legitimate shot at succeeding his father as king. However, a young man David that was recruited as harp player for Saul impressed Jonathan as a brave man with special leadership skills and faith of God. Jonathan did not see David as a hostile competitor for the throne of Israel as his father, Saul, advised him several times. Instead, he saw in David qualities of a chosen leader and believed that his role is to support David to be the best leader he could.
How Should a Master and an Innovative Subordinate Relate? Interactions between Saul and David after David killed Goliath indicate useful answers. David remained in Saul’s service after killing Goliath and was threatened by Saul because Saul was jealous and afraid of him. Saul was jealous of David because he killed Goliath and led Israel to victory over the Philistines at a time that Saul, the king, was visibly too frightened to try. He was afraid of David because God was with David and had left Saul, and David was successful and impressed the people of Israel in everything he did. Therefore, Saul, the master, felt out-performed by his subordinate, David, and reacted by threatening to kill him.
What should you do when another person wins an opportunity that you would have liked to have won yourself? We examine the question in this bible study on the “Perfect Heart for Strategic Alliance,” third in a four-part series featuring the proceedings of the Banking Blessings seminar on the “Power of Strategic Alliance.”