When I was in Mexico City recently, I attended the staff meeting at Comunidad Mosaico, a ministry that works toward transformation among the urban poor. They had a time of worship and, due to my poor Spanish skills, I understood very little that was going on. But I felt the movement of the Spirit among them and I got a sense from the Lord that these people were Barnabases.
Now, I think Barnabas is one of the most important people in the New Testament, but he gets almost no recognition. He probably wouldn’t even make most people’s top ten list. But I outlined for the people at that staff meeting the significant role that Barnabas played. He came alongside Paul, got him embraced by the apostles. He took up the cause of John Mark. If we take Paul and Mark out of the equation, how much of the New Testament wouldn’t even be written? Barnabas was a helpful and encouraging person to have around. He was someone who, instead of taking center stage, empowered others.
“If you really succeed and do your job well as a Barnabas,” I told them, “few people will even know about you. Everyone else will get the credit, but you’ll be the ones who really made a difference by empowering them.” Many had tears in their eyes as they considered this vision.
I then gave them an assignment. I introduced these six questions, originally used by Carl George. I like to call them The Barnabas Questions:
- How are you?
- What are you celebrating?
- What challenges are you experiencing
- What do you plan to do about these challenges?
- How can I help you?
- How can I pray for you?
I instructed them to break into pairs and spend the next half hour going through these questions together. This team had been working closely together for a long time, but this exercise brought it to a whole new level of intentionality, support, and encouragement.
As the staffers now use these questions with those they serve and partner alongside, who knows what leaders they will raise up from the slums of Mexico City? Apostles have come from stranger places.
Who’s a Barnabas in your life? How are you being a Barnabas to others?