by Rev Robert Wendel
I am fortunate to be one of only seven clinically endorsed American Baptist Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors in West Virginia, a Princeton Seminary trained, acknowledged specialist in pastoral care and counseling. More than anything, my calling has always been to dispense encouragement.
Most often my encouragement has come into play each time I have had bedside or ER conversations and prayer with folks originally at the Beckley WV Medical Center and currently at BARH hospital here in town, a ten year ministry.
Among the founders of the early church, some writers have referred to Barnabas as a person ‘who distinguished himself as an encourager…a motivator of others in order to meet the needs of the church.’ (Acts 2:44-45,) wrote David Jeremiah.
Barnabas was generous. He was kind. He was involved in the lives of other people. Barnabas was filled with faith-faith in God, and he had a deep sense of faithfulness in representing the virtues which Jesus taught his followers.
As we survey Barnabas’ life, there are three transferable qualities that you and I can work to build and maintain in our lives:
First – Encouragers perform while others pretend. The monetary gifts Barnabas shared were the catalyst that prompted the generosity of others in the fledging assemblies. His gifts were genuine and sincere, with no sense of reciprocal obligation (Acts 4:34-37.)
Second – Barnabas saw potential not problems. The true followers of Christ were skeptical of Paul’s supposed conversion. Barnabas had heard Paul’s testimony and was willing to accept his change of heart. When no one wanted anything to do with Paul, Barnabas stood up for the underdog. He believed him and went with him to Antioch (acts 15:22-29). Later when Paul refused to let John Mark accompany him, Barnabas saw John Mark’s potential and let the younger man go with him to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-40).
Third, Barnabas cared more about people not prominence. I the eleventh chapter of Acts, Barnabas had been commissioned by the Church in Jerusalem to go to Antioch and ‘strengthen their souls’, saying “We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God”(14:22). More important than any notoriety he might receive was the welfare of those who were coming to know the Lord. So, Barnabas asked Paul to share in this critical ministry, thus offering those believers the best possible teaching.
No matter how much it hurts, encouragers find a way to share and support those whose inner-spirit and faith may only be a flickering flame. Be a life changer. Be an encourager.