Encouragers Needed

Everyone needs encouragement.

Barnabas. I don’t see the name used often. However, I have been blessed by many of Barnabas’ apprentices.

According to the book of Acts, Barnabas means child of encouragement. Recently, I wrote about the occasion in which Barnabas encouraged a young disciple by the name of John Mark. John Mark is believed by many scholars to have gone on to write the gospel of Mark.

Occasionally, I will look through my old photo albums (both digitally and in print). I typically come across people through whom God used to shape my life. Mr. Grossl came to my attention. Fred Grossl is the father of one of my childhood friends. Fred’s calm manner and resolute focus taught me that strength and compassion are not mutually exclusive character traits. One can be determined and kind simultaneously.

Then there is Ralph Bauserman. Ralph was one of my mentors in ministry. Ralph led me to understand that spiritual leadership is about bringing out the best in others. Qualities such as selflessness and humility are what define great leaders. People will only listen and respond to what you say if they honor who you are.

Of course, there are many other disciples of Barnabas who have encouraged me across the years. Each of them possesses a similar objective: to hearten others. The Latin word, encourage, figuratively means to embolden the heart of another. To encourage people is to lift their spirits or rekindle their passions or redirect their attentions.

In a world filled with the language of discouragement, what is needed now are a few more of Barnabas’ disciples to move the needle of peoples’ hearts toward joy instead of angst and love rather than hatred. Encouragers give oxygen to a room that has been poisoned by conflict, wherein the occupants can breathe a lasting sigh of peace. Moreover, the names and faces of those who have encouraged us will live eternally within our hearts and memories long after the peddlers of discouragement fade into the pages of history.

Paul’s counsel to the church is just as needed today as ever. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV). To a generation that is bent on tearing itself down, I pray that the sons and daughters of Barnabas will prevail!