Reflecting on: “Barnabas” Encouraging Others

From: “The outside missionary is a “Paul,” preaching on the front lines among the unreached.”
To: “The outsider is far more effective as a “Barnabas,” discovering, encouraging and empowering a nearer-culture “Paul.””

People sent out as missionaries have often been encouraged to view themselves as the front-line worker, modeled after the Apostle Paul. We now realize that the far outsider can instead have the greatest impact by finding and partnering with cultural insiders or near neighbors who become the “Pauls” for their communities.

Note first that Barnabas was also a leader who “did the work” (Acts 11:22-26; 13:1-7). So movement catalysts need to first gain experience making disciples in their own culture and then work cross-culturally to find those “Pauls” from the focus culture whom they can encourage and empower.

Second, even these “Pauls” have to adjust their paradigms. The outside catalysts of a large movement in India studied Barnabas’ life to better understand their role. They then studied the passages with the initial “Pauls” of this movement. Those Paul-type leaders in turn realized that contrary to their cultural patterns (that the initial leader is always preeminent), they in turn wanted to become like Barnabas and empower those they discipled, to have an even greater impact. (Copied from:

How much do you love the preeminence? Do you seek the limelight? Do you live for accolades?

Years ago I was in Spain doing some training. The wife of our host asked me a strange question: “Do you miss the spot-light?” I had just told her that I had been a Preacher for 31 years, prior to transitioning to my work with Final Command a few months earlier.

My surprise at her question was only surpassed by my honest answer, “No.” What had replaced my desire to be appreciated or applauded for a good sermon? Watching someone I was training and coaching becoming a Disciple Maker was giving me much greater joy.

Luke 10:21 says, At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. What gave Jesus overflowing joy? Listening to the 72 telling about their success in finding Persons of Peace! Hearing them share stories of people who would be open to the King’s arrival into their communities.

While we cannot know for sure, it is possible these seventy-two others (Luke 10:1) were from the earlier ministry of the twelve when they were sent out imitating Jesus’ ministry of peace (Luke 9:1-2). Jesus does all the ministry in the first eight chapters of Luke. In chapter nine he sends out the twelve. Next in Luke 10 is this section on seventy-two others who become the ones he later calls little children. Recognize that you do not have to be part of the twelve to be sent out on a Jesus mission.

Maybe God has a bigger role for you than you can imagine. But maybe he wants that to come to pass through other people you can disciple, rather than through you personally doing most of the frontline work. Movements require many “daughters and sons of encouragement!” [NOTE: We often forget that “Barnabas” was actually a nickname for a man whose given name was Joseph (Acts 4:36). The nickname is used so often many of us never really learn his given name! Could this become your new nickname!]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s