Nicknamed “son of encouragement” by the apostles, Barnabas had a profound impact on the early church. He was generous (see Acts 4:32-37), trustworthy (see 11:29-30), and faithful to God’s calling (see 13:1-3).
He was good at something else, too—helping others succeed.
When the newly converted Saul of Tarsus came to Jerusalem and attempted to join the disciples there, he was met with fear and distrust. After all, this was the man who only recently had persecuted the church and hauled followers of the Way off to prison. Barnabas saw in Saul what others did not. He personally introduced Saul to the apostles, shared with them Saul’s conversion story, and explained how he had boldly preached Christ in Damascus at great personal risk. As a result, “Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord” (9:28).
When some Grecian residents of Antioch responded to the gospel, the leaders in the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to them. “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (11:23).
Barnabas seized this opportunity to travel to Tarsus, find Saul, and take the new convert back with him to Antioch. “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people” (v. 26).
Barnabas was a strategic encourager. Through a single opportunity he found multiple ways to help others succeed. He helped the new believers in Antioch succeed by providing the kind of teaching and discipling they needed to grow in their faith. And he helped Saul succeed by valuing him (seeking him out), vouching for him (bringing him to Antioch), and then giving him a specific opportunity to lead and instruct.
Our human nature wants to succeed and focuses on personal success. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, however, we begin to focus also on the success of others.
Whom are you helping to succeed?