From Acts 9:26-30, and 15:36-40.
They called him "the encourager." He once sold his own land to raise funds for the poor, but Barnabas shared far more than just money.
A fierce persecutor of Christians became a Christian, and when Paul came to Jerusalem to meet the disciples – those who daily learned from the Master – they wanted nothing to do with him. How could they trust him? How could someone like Paul ever become a Christian teacher? Any hopes of their guidance had been dashed. Whatever it was he wanted, they didn’t have the time.
But one man gave him a chance.
Barnabas the Encourager befriended Paul, acquainting him with the others, giving him a chance when no one else would. And he grew with Barnabas by his side.
The time came to revisit the new churches they started, and Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark along. Paul refused. He had let Paul down before, so Paul couldn’t trust him. Barnabas, however, gave him a chance, and Mark grew with Barnabas by his side.
By becoming a mentor, Barnabas’ life became more complicated. But he did it anyway, and the kingdom of God was richer for it. He knew that Paul and Mark had something to offer, if someone was only there to encourage them, guide them, and believe in them.
As Christians, mentoring is a crucial part of our story. Naomi guided Ruth. Elijah tutored Elisha. Jesus mentored the twelve. Older women taught younger women about family and life. They shared their skills, time, knowledge, and – most importantly – themselves.
Whether in books, classes, writers’ groups, or someone kind enough to critique your work, you received guidance from others. Who are you mentoring? How are you sharing your knowledge with children or adults?
Someone – or some group – needs the very wisdom and encouragement that you have to offer.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb 10:24-25, TNIV).