When Saul (whose name would later be changed to Paul) met Jesus and was converted, none of the disciples could believe it. As a matter of fact, they didn’t believe it. There was a guy named Barnabas who took Saul to them and said, “No, really guys, Saul is now one of us.” And God used Barnabas to convince them Saul was now a follower of Jesus. And within a few chapters of Acts, it goes from Barnabas and Saul (Acts 12:25), with Barnabas receiving top billing, to Paul and his party (Acts 13:13) and Barnabas being a supporting actor. I’ve always admired that about Barnabas. I even recall learning that the name Barnabas means ‘encourager’.
I find myself being an encourager today. There were 7 people from the Mason UMC who slept at my new home last night. Two others will join them today and nine of them in total will head to Tom’s River, NJ for a mission trip to help NJ recover from Hurricane Sandy devastation. Nobody knows how badly I want to be on that trip. But I’m certain that God does not want me to go. This time, my job is not to be one of the ones on the front line. This time my job is to be a stopover for them, most of whom God has blessed me to push, pull, and aggravate for the last six years to get them to this point. It is with tears in my eyes and a little bit of holy pride (if there is such a thing) that I tell you and tell them that God has been preparing them for this moment. They no longer need me to go with them. Today, they only need me to encourage them.
I remember a joke I heard when I was young, “If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter.” If you don’t get that, it’s probably best.
Sometimes we are the ones God allows to go and be the hands and feet. Other times our job is to encourage and pray as others go. Both are vitally important. As Jesus gives you the opportunity, don’t miss the chances to go be His hands and feet. And when it’s not you who is called to do a certain task, be an enabler and an encourager to help others. As Barnabas discovered, enabling and encouraging can unleash brothers and sisters in mighty ways for the glory of God. And you can take a little holy pride in their accomplishments.