The Barnabas Factor

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
“There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”).” Acts 4:36

Woven into the fabric of the Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s epistles is the quiet life of a man who was a life-changer. He was mentioned at least fifteen times in the New Testament yet many of us have never heard of him. This was a man who so epitomized the meaning of the word encouragement, that the disciples changed his name from Joseph to Barnabas.

The term Barnabas was derived from two words: “bar” meant the “son of” and “nabas” referred to a way of speaking that encouraged or built another person up. So, the name Barnabas literally means the Son of Encouragement — the one who refreshes.

Barnabas was a life changer because he looked at people in the same way God does. People who cultivate the Barnabas factor have an open mind to consider what God may be doing in another person. They somehow see the grace of God at work in the lives of others and they take the time to encourage it. They understand that some people, no matter how old they are, just need time to grow in maturity.

People who can see raw potential in others have an amazing ability to mentor others in ways that immeasurably change lives. I have learned personally that behind most people who have accomplished anything of lasting value is at least one person who loved them, believed in them, and encouraged them.

Joyce Landorf Heatherly wrote a little book entitled Balcony People a long time ago and it is still in print perhaps because her concepts are so simple yet so profound. She describes the difference between basement people – the kind of people who tend to evaluate and criticize first – and balcony people – the people in our lives who always seem to be able to offer a word or gesture of encouragement first. Balcony people are those who have a large dose of the Barnabas factor and they know how to use it well. During these times, when it is so easy to become discouraged, I want to encourage you to take the time to be a Barnabas to someone in your life. We can become balcony people who encourage and strengthen others to get through hard times, by reminding them of their strength and their worth, along with how much they matter to you.

Rev. Dr. Deb Kaiser-Cross
Minister for Congregational Care

Practice for This Week
Let me ask you a couple of questions in light of the Barnabas factor. Can you name one person who has believed in you when others could not see your value? Who are you believing in or investing in today whom others not see their value?

For those in your orbit who may need your encouragement today:
Living God, open our eyes to the people whose paths I will cross today – loved ones who need my encouragement, strangers to whom I can be a blessing, people whose needs I have the resources to meet. With whomever I interact, let me be your hands, your feet, your laughter, your voice, your joy today, in Jesus Christ the Great Encourager. Amen.