Barnabas is one of my favorite people in the Bible. We don’t know a whole lot about him, but the descriptions in Acts (4:36, 9:27,11:22-24, etc.) always caught my imagination. What would a person be like who was known as the son of encouragement? How would someone behave who was known for encouraging others and being a good man, full of the Holy Spirit?
We don’t know for sure, but I would think Barnabas was known more for building people up than tearing them down. I doubt he gossiped or talked badly about people behind their backs. Barnabas may not have baked cookies or had access to Hallmark cards, but I am sure he used his words and whatever was available in his time to make others feel loved and hopeful. I can imagine Barnabas helping people discover their gifts and how to use them in service to God. I can see him consoling someone who had sinned and giving them hope that they could indeed repent.
What if every Christian family became a Barnabas family? Could your family become a family who seeks out the best in everyone and shares their observations with them? Sincere compliments meant to encourage could change someone’s life. Could your family send cards or take food to people who may be lonely or discouraged? What if your kids were the first to talk to the kids in school who are normally ignored or bullied? What if you assumed that cranky neighbor had the best of motives and showered her with kindness?
Take the Barnabas Family Challenge. Each day, every member of your family should commit to encouraging everyone they meet. Your acts of encouragement can range from thanking the clerk who checks your groceries to telling a teacher how much you appreciate her gift for sharing knowledge to telling your child’s friend how much artistic talent you think he has. Your children can encourage the other children in school, their teachers, your neighbors and even their parents!
Be creative and have fun with it. Make a jar that sits on your kitchen table. Fill it with slips of paper on which you have written the names of people your family encounters on a regular basis. At the beginning of the day or week choose one or more slips. The names drawn will be the focus of your family’s special encouragement “project” that day/week. (This would be in addition to the normal encouragement your family is trying to provide to everyone daily.)
Remember encouragement doesn’t have to be fancy. Sometimes just having someone remember your name or having someone recognize and thank you for your efforts can mean the world to people. If you want to put some extra special effort into your encouragement, check past posts or my Pinterest board for ideas. I would love to see some of the things your family does. Feel free to comment here or email me your photos and a description of what you did. I will share some of them on the Parenting Like Hannah Facebook page to encourage others to become Barnabas families.