Do you have a nickname? Does it display some hidden characteristic that other people can see, for good or bad? I met someone the other day whose nickname was ‘MacGyver’ because he could always fix anything for anyone. This Sunday we mark the Feast of St Barnabas, apostle and martyr, who was a man full of the Holy Spirit. His name was originally Joseph, but he was given the name ‘Barnabas’ which means ‘encourager’. What a great nickname – to be known as the one who offers people support, confidence or hope. Some of the character traits we find in Barnabas in Scripture are faith, big-heartedness, courage, generosity, humility, and open-mindedness.
Take a minute and look around you. Look closely at the faces of people and see in their eyes the longing for understanding and their need for encouragement. If nothing else, just a look, a pat on the back or a smile can make the greatest difference in their day. It’s a gift so often lacking in the world and in the church, where competitiveness, one-upmanship, looking after number one are so often the orders of the day. Encouragement is a powerful force. It’s so easy to pour cold water on enthusiasm. It is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. So often when people achieve things in life, it’s because there has been someone behind them, encouraging them on to greater things.
Today we can choose to follow Barnabas’ example. How great would it be if we thought of themselves as children of encouragement, people inspired to live life by the always available encouragement of God, but also men and women who bring hope and purpose to their community and the people they share their lives with.
In peace, Mother Lynda