We hear a lot about Paul's impact in the early days of the church. However, had it not been for Barnabas, Paul’s ministry would have been aborted before it was even launched. Who was this powerful influencer that helped position Paul to impact the world with the gospel?
Luke introduces this ambassador of encouragement to us in Acts 4. He is Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus. Interestingly, the apostles named him “Barnabas, son of consolation” or “son of encouragement,” according to the NLT (Acts 4:36-37).
You could say that Barnabas was his nickname. By definition, a nickname is an informal name
usually given based on certain traits associated with that person. We can assume that Joseph from Cyprus acted in a way that earned him the name “Encourager.” He certainly personifies the definition of encouragement.
What is Encouragement?
Encouragement is the act of giving someone support, confidence, or hope. So, encouragers are conduits of these three essentials for living an overcoming life – support, confidence, and hope.
Encouragers are Generous.
Barnabas played a significant role in the success of the early church. His generosity is revealed when he sells his property and gives the proceeds to help fund the ministry of the infant church.
Encouragers are Peacemakers.
The amazing conversion of Saul, who would become Paul, is recorded in Acts chapter nine. The great persecutor of the faith became the great promoter of the faith. As remarkable as this was, the believers in Jerusalem initially rejected Paul’s conversion and ministry. They stubbornly refused to allow him to become a part of their fellowship. Luke says they were afraid of him and did not believe he was a disciple (Acts 9:26). The ministry of the man responsible for spreading the gospel to the known world was almost aborted before it began.
It was the Encourager, Barnabas, doing the work of a mediator, that successfully opened the door for Paul. He told the Jews of Paul’s conversion, and how he preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus in Damascus (Acts 9:27). Because Barnabas was so respected and trusted among the apostles, they trusted his counsel and opened the door of fellowship to Paul. The Encourager was willing to risk his reputation to benefit Paul’s ministry. Barnabas helped open the door for Paul, leading to the gospel being preached to the Gentiles.
Encouragers are Revivalists.
When the Jerusalem leaders heard of what God was doing in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to help fan the flames of revival (Acts 11:22–26). The Jerusalem leaders had sufficient confidence in Barnabas to oversee this important breakthrough. Luke points out that Barnabas, true to his character, “encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” As a result of his involvement in Antioch, a vast number of people were saved (Acts 11:24).
Encouragers are People Builders.
Barnabas saw Antioch as the perfect opportunity to engage Paul in his God-called ministry. This is the second time the Encourager opened the door of opportunity for Paul. Paul had returned to his hometown of Tarsus after he escaped an assassination attempt in Damascus. There is a lot we do not know about the years Paul was in Tarsus. All we know is the Encourager traveled three hundred miles round trip to locate him and bring him into the magnificent work in Antioch.
Encouragers are Restorers.
Encouragers believe in second chances. Paul and Barnabas had returned from a missionary trip and were planning another missionary trip, but Paul refused to allow Mark to go with them since he had left them during the first trip. The Encourager, Barnabas, stayed true to his character. He believed Mark should be given another chance.
Barnabas decided to separate from Paul and take Mark on the trip to check on the new believers from the first missionary trip. Thankfully, Barnabas rescued another ministry that would significantly impact the spread of the gospel (Acts 15:36–39).
Ironically, Paul was willing to cast Mark to the side. One can only imagine what would have happened to Mark. Being the young man he was, he could have easily become discouraged and quit. But the Encourager was not going to allow that to happen. Barnabas took Mark and went on their missionary journey. Because of Barnabas, The Encourager, Mark became a vital part of the success of the young church. He salvaged young Mark when Paul had lost confidence in him. The Encourager won! Mark was up to the task.
Eventually, Mark became a part of Paul’s ministry team, and he recommended him to the church in Colosse (Colossians 4:10). Later, when Paul was in a Roman prison, he called for Mark because he was helpful to his ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).
Mark eventually made his way to Rome, where he joined Peter. Peter called him “my son Mark” (1 Peter 5:13). Early Christian writers Papias and Irenaeus say Mark “handed down to us in writing the things that Peter had proclaimed” about Jesus. The Gospel of Mark was the first published account of the life of Jesus. This may not have been possible if it had not been for The Encourager.
 R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles, (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961), 456–457.
Encouragers Fulfill Galatians 6:1.
The success of Galatians 6:1 includes a hefty dose of encouragement to the fallen we are helping to restore. Galatians 6:1 admonishes godly believers to help restore a brother that has fallen.
The following story helps to illustrate the necessity and power of encouraging the fallen.
"Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots, or grinding stones. But instead, Mead said that the first sign of civilization in ancient culture was a femur (thigh bone) that had been broken and then healed.
Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die.
You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.
A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery.
Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts, Mead said."
 Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Surgeon Looks at the Human and Spiritual Body, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 68.
Helping others through difficulty is the work of the Encourager.
How to be an Encourager.
Let people know you care.
This always takes time. But it empowers and encourages them.
Display affirmation publicly.
One of the best ways to encourage someone is to let them hear you tell others how great they are.
Trust them with more.
Trust expresses confidence in them. It says, “You are doing an excellent job. You are worthy of greater responsibilities.”
Be there for them.
Nothing gives confidence like being available if help is needed.
Invest in them.
Pay for lessons, seminars, and training.
Be an Encourager.
“Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart