When Barnabas and Saul embarked on their first missionary journey, John Mark traveled with them as their assistant (Acts 13:5), but he did not stay with the mission long (Acts 13:13). We are not told the precise reason for Mark’s departure, but he violated Paul’s trust when he left.
In fact, Paul’s distrust was so great that he refused to give Mark another chance on his second missionary trip, despite Barnabas’ suggestion. “Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another” (Acts 15:39).
Paul was focused on the work and strengthening the churches that were established during the first trip, and did not want to be distracted by Mark’s shortcomings; Paul did not want to risk a second abandonment. Barnabas, on the other hand, wanted to encourage Mark in his labors for the Lord and provide him the emotional support he needed in his service.
How many people disappear from the Lord’s service today? What should we do when we see someone drifting away from the faith? Paul himself wrote that we should “restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
When we mess up, we may disappoint family and friends, but that does not mean we are forever useless. It may take time to rebuild trust, but if we are diligent and faithful, it can be accomplished, just as Mark eventually won back Paul’s trust (2 Timothy 4:11).
It starts small. We should not expect someone to entrust us with a major task if we have not proved ourselves with simpler things. Read Jesus’ parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. What does Jesus say to those who were faithful and fruitful? What does He say to the man who did nothing with that which was entrusted to him?
It is very important that we serve the Lord to the best of our ability and not give up. But if we do stumble, know that we can turn ourselves around and become useful to Him again.