Hopeful leaders stay optimistic about the future and focused on the best in their people says Brad Lomenick. He adds that these leaders are consumed with making tomorrow better than today. This is THE task of the Christian leader. So how skilled are you at inspiration, encouragement and hope?
Before reflecting on the Biblical example of hopeful Barnabas, look at this short video introduction on how to grow your character in hope (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eOPTU-YPL0)
[Today’s four short portions from the Book of Acts will give a holistic view of the life of Barnabas]
36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
26 And when Paul had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.
19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off [on the first mission to the Gentiles].
Observation and reflection questions
Note: Today’s four portions of the Book of Acts we highlight the character and motives of the Apostle Barnabas to better understand his ability to see the best in people in every situation, and encourage people with that.
- Barnabas was a nickname. How do you thing this leader got the name? (4:36-37)
- Looking at the five portions of Acts above, summarize what significant events Barnabas “the encourager” had key involvement in. What does that suggest of the need for and importance of hopeful confidence in uncertain and difficult times?
- Hopeful confidence has to do with what the Lord is doing or preparing, i.e. seeing what the future holds, and encouraging others with that. Where do you recognize this in the life of Barnabas in the Texts above?
Personal reflection and Application
As seen in the life of Barnabas, the Lord entrusts hopeful leaders with critical opportunities and people with key potential, because hopeful leaders have trained their perception to discern “with eyes of light” (Matt 6:22-23) what the Lord is doing, and what good he has placed in people. These leaders encourage and direct followers with hopeful confidence in “good plans the Lord has prepared” (Jer 29:13). Read more on growing in encouragement here.
- As a leader…
- …are you more prone to first note what can/ will go wrong, or what good can / will this lead to? e. are you more directed towards fear or to hope?
- …are you more prone to first note the flaws or imperfections in people or things, or are you more prone to note the potential in things or people? i.e. are you more inclined to be critical / judgmental or encouraging / uplifting?
- …is you influence with people more cynical or demotivating, or rather more encouraging and inspirational?
- Throughout the day look for good progress or potential you spot in people around you. THANK their kindness and contributions, AFFIRM their abilities and worth, APPLAUD their efforts and success, and REASSURE your belief in their ability and motives. Strive to do this in every situation, with every person you meet. Note what that does to them – and you!
Thank God for all his goodness in your life! Pray that God may open your eyes to see what he has placed and is doing in those around you; pray that he may fill you with hope and joy and that it may overflow to encourage everyone you encounter; and pray that he may entrust his words of prophesy to you to speak life into the hearts that are heavy, to strengthen hands that hang low and steady knees that wobble under pressure. (