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Be an Encourager

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

Acts 11:19-26

A study of Bible references to Barnabas reveals principles that mark the man God uses in developing leaders. he is the third most prominent leader in the book of Acts next to Peter and Paul (24 reference in Acts). His given name, Joseph, is mentioned only once (Acts 4:36). The nickname, Barnabas, was given to him by the apostles. He was indeed, Son of Consolation, Son of Encouragement, Brother Bigheart. His example:

1. Give up the right to personal privilege.

" Having land, sold it and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles feet" (Acts 4:37)

Power in leadership tempts to egoism, self interest and selfishness. Love of position on leaves no space for others. A generous attitude toward our possessions and our time is an essential quality for the leadership developer.

2. Accept the risk involved in the development of others.

"And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he tried to join himself to the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles.." (Acts 9:26,27).

We are never confident with unfamiliar and unproven leaders. There is risk in encouraging others and by delegating responsibility to new workers.

3. Dare to speak on behalf of the beginner

"But Barnabas... declared unto them how he (Saul) had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus." (Acts 9:27).

Barnabas was saying, "I believe in this man and his experience with Christ." We must show an interest in potential leaders if we are to know anything about them. It takes time to listen and learn.

4. Express glad appreciation for the evidences of God's grace in emerging leaders.

"Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad.. and exhorted them all..." (Acts 11:23).

Beware of the negative attitude in relating to new workers. Uncharitable criticism will kill enthusiasm. A censorious spirit will cancel opportunity of giving guidance. Encourage zeal, don't stifle it!

5. Strive for the spiritual maturity of the starters.

"... and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cling unto the Lord." (Acts 11:23)

This is the priority!

6. Seek to wisely match ministry to need.

"Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, to seek Saul" (Acts 11:25).

Why? Gentiles were being swept into the fellowship of the Church. Barnabas knew that the need in Antioch for leadership required someone like Saul of Tarsus: a man with Jewish and Gentile background, a man of courage (Antioch was no easy place) and a man skilled in words.

7. Give place to emerging leadership

"Barnabas and Saul" became "Paul and Barnabas." (Acts 11:26, 12:25, 13:2,7 and 13:43, 46, 50). Acts 13:13 simply states, "Paul and his company.." it takes more grace than I can tell to play the second fiddle well" (F.F Bruce).

8. Face discouragement with Christian grace.

"And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work."

(Acts 15:36-38).

John Mark's defection had to be disappointing. Paul's objection to reinstate him had to be painful. Disappointments in workers we sponsor can lead to cynicism and suspicion. The encourager doesn't forget God's patience with us all.

9. Exercise faith in the effectual working of God's grace in the lives of others.

"And Barnabas determined..." (Acts 15:37).

Barnabas looked beyond shortcomings and failures. Hope is an imperative in disciplining others. We must believe in the work of the Holy Spirit in others to overcome their human weakness.

10. Assume the task to develop leaders.

"And the contention was so sharp between them that they departed asunder one from the other, and so, Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus" (Acts 15:39).

It is costly to be committed to young leaders. Mistakes, disappointments, misunderstandings, and other problems are not uncommon. Paul may not have needed Barnabas anymore. John Mark certainly did.


Acts 11:24 sums up the character of Barnabas. He was (1) "a good man." He was godlike. loving, generous, sympathetic, trusting, kind, clear-sighted, self-giving, honourable. He was (2) "full of the Holy Spirit." He maintained openness to receive from God and to give to others. His gifts and enablement were divine. He was (3) "full of faith." He believed God and in His work in the lives of others. He lived to move God's covenant people along the pathway of living their privileges and to fulfilling His purposes. He may have often used, "Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount," as a text. More Christians are needed to follow the example of Barnabas. Be an Encourager!

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