Common English Bible (CEB)
23 When he arrived and saw evidence of God’s grace, he was overjoyed and encouraged everyone to remain fully committed to the Lord. 24 Barnabas responded in this way because he was a good man, whom the Holy Spirit had endowed with exceptional faith. A considerable number of people were added to the Lord.
In the book of Acts Barnabas is know as being one who encourages people. He is the one who takes a chance on other people who are often overlooked or considered to maybe be not ready for ministry. Barnabas took people like that alongside him on his travels, trained them, stood up for them when necessary. He doesn’t always get the headlines, but his work empowered other people. And even as he was empowering others he was also doing his own ministry.
I’m reminded of this story because lately I’ve been feeling really discouraged. I’ve been feeling stalled out in a lot of areas of my life: Feeling like the things I’m doing aren’t working or aren’t making a difference. And in the midst of that discouragement I have often thought about giving up.
Why should I bother to say something if someone else is going to say it better? Or if someone else is going to be heard while I am ignored? Why should I bother to start a new church community when so many church starts fail? Why bother when there are already lots of churches (and even lots of church plants) already in my city? Why should I write things that matter to me when it seems that no one bothers to read those posts? And the list goes on and on. The self doubt rages through my head. Am I just kidding myself? Who do I think I am? Why do I think anything I can do will ever be good enough?
And then along comes Barnabas. And he helps me into a new way of seeing. He asks the questions that jumpstart my brain. He helps me to reframe my thinking.
But even more importantly he simply lets me know that I am not alone. There are other people thinking the same thoughts. There are other people who are feeling called in the same direction. There is someone else who thinks my voice matters. And I am left feeling encouraged to continue in the work.
I am so thankful for the folks who are willing to listen to me, to talk me down, to help me to see what it is that I am and could be doing. The people who help me feel less alone.
And it leads me to pay attention to the people who I can be Barnabas to, the people I can encourage or ask the right questions of. The people I can believe in. Because someone believed in me.
Who is your Barnabas? And who can you be a Barnabas to?