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The Book of Acts presents a unique individual, described slightly different than others. “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), …” (Acts 4:36).
Here, we have a man who was given a nickname by the Apostles because of a particular personality trait he possessed, he was an encourager. That is quite a compliment! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Christians were known by that same characteristic. Are you an encourager? You should be. We should all be more like Barnabas. With that in mind, here are just a few suggestions we hope might help you to develop the admirable attribute of being an encourager.
The first step toward any character change should begin with bathing it in prayer. Ask God to use you as an encourager, to help you identify someone to encourage. Ask for strength and wisdom in how to best lift someone up, whether it be a stranger, an acquaintance, a family member, or one of your own brethren. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
In our age of communication, there are many avenues available to us for connecting with someone. A personal phone call, a letter, or even a written email is enough to encourage anyone who receives it. While text messages are also an easy method for communicating, use it minimally. It simply lacks the more personal touch needed when trying to encourage someone. Remember, however, nothing encourages someone more than doing it face to face. (Hebrews 10:25)
There is no shortage of distressing news, complaining, and vitriol posted on most social media outlets these days. Why not show the attitude of Barnabas to everyone and become known as a great encourager on Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms? It is easy to be a shining light in such a dark place because few people are doing it. (Matt 5:16)
Ask someone if you can pray for them. Ask if there is anything specific that they would like for you to pray to God about. Then, pray right then and there with them. This can be so encouraging to those struggling with life’s difficulties, diseases, or demands. It is an extremely effective way to encourage others. (James 5:16)
We interact with people every day: waiters, cashiers, mechanics, receptionists, sales clerks, couriers, etc. They interact with many people everyday also who, typically, don’t treat them very kindly. Giving them respect, a smile, or even a word of encouragement is almost always appreciated. It will make their day and your light will shine!
Sounds simple enough, but sometimes easier to say than do. A smile is one of the easiest, most effective ways to encourage someone else. It communicates love and positive feelings. You will feel better yourself and that usually radiates out to others. Barnabas most likely smiled a lot, don’t you think? (Job 9:27)
One of the best ways to learn how to do something well is to watch others who do it well. Notice what they say, how they say it, and other methods they use. It will help you identify what works best for you. Become aware of what encourages you and then go do it to others. (1 Corinthians 11:1)