He was from Cyprus. His name was Joseph and he was one of the most influential men of his time. Everyone respected him. Everyone spoke well of him. I believe he made a profound difference in the lives of everyone he spent time with. Why else would the top leaders of his day give him the nickname, ‘Barnabas’?
Barnabas means son of encouragement or son of consolation. I have to think that if you spent any time with Barnabas you walked away having a healthier perspective on who you were and what you were to give your life to.
If you spent time with Barnabas you walked away having a healthier perspective on who you are and what you are to give your life to.
I believe the Body of Christ needs more people whose nickname is Barnabas, ‘sons and daughters of encouragement’.
I also believe the Body of Christ have many people who want to learn how to do a better job at encouraging those around them. Jesus taught that all people will know that we are his disciples if we love one another. If you are a follower of Jesus, then it seems to me that this desire is somewhere on your radar.
We need encouragers…Who would have thought?
Yet, isn’t it amazing how many of us have been the target of discouragement? Isn’t it crazy that it even occurs within the Body of Christ?
Chances are you know what it’s like to be criticized by a mean spirited person. Perhaps you’ve even had your integrity or character questioned, and the charge was unjust. Have you ever had your aspirations called into question by someone? Someone who seems to delight in casting doubt over your desire to pursue the kind of life Jesus is calling you to?
Slander, gossip, sarcasm and exaggeration is nasty stuff. It tears down. It does not build up.
Now, think about how discouragement comes to us. Mostly, we experience discouragement through what is spoken or written. The source might be people you know or don’t know. For many of us it even comes from ourselves. Far too often we speak things over ourselves that bring discouragement.
Discouragement also comes when we are with people who don’t seem to notice we are with them. Have you ever been with someone who is only interested in talking about themselves? Or what is important to them? Have you ever had that happen to you? Have you ever been the person who did that same thing with others? I have. …. Ouch!!
Discouragement is the enemy of our faith. Discouragement wears us down. Discouragement causes people to abandon dreams. Discouragement leads people away from a life of hope and faith. The fruit of discouragement is an unfulfilled life at best. At worst, discouragement can cause people to quit.
But here is the thing. We live in a broken world and discouragement isn’t going to disappear. However discouragement shouldn’t be allowed to become pervasive.
Sons & Daughters of Encouragement….Help stop the insanity
Maybe we can’t eradicate discouragement, but surely we can reach a tipping point in our communities where encouragement abounds.
Imagine with me, faith communities populated with a noticeable presence of sons and daughters of encouragement?
I want to share with you where I began my own quest to become a more effective encourager.
My breakthrough came when I decided I was going to only have conversations that were meaningful. Not conversations that were meaningful to me but meaningful to the other person.
I noticed immediate improvements in the conversations I had with others. People began letting me know how enjoyable our conversations were. Some have actually used the word ‘helpful’. I think I’m on the right track.
Decide today to make every conversation meaningful
Decide to have meaningful conversations… meaningful to them, not you. To be an encourager it is not about you, it’s about them. It’s all about them. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. An encourager keeps their focus on the other person.
Recently I’ve been starting my day with a simple prayer. “Lord, as I go about today show me who you are sending into my life.” Then, as I go about the day I look to see who I can have a meaningful conversation with. At the end of the day I’ll pray again, but this time I focus more on listening for His response. “Jesus, how do you think it went today? Did I overlook anyone you sent my way today?” “How could I have done a better job in the ways I related with people today?”
I have discovered this prayer practice to be a wonderful habit. I figure that if anyone can show me how to be a son of encouragement….it’s Jesus. No one knows how to come alongside better than Him. (‘To come alongside’ is a great way to picture the work of an encourager.)
In my next blog I plan to give my thoughts to the question, “How do you have conversations with people that are meaningful to them?”