Taught the 5th and 6th grader Sunday School lesson recently. The lesson was from the book of Acts about Paul and Barnabas, the great evangelistic apostle and his partner. The emphasis of the lesson was supposed to be on everyone playing their part, how we all have a purpose, which is true. But something else about Barnabas really struck me- he thought of other people first. Instead of protecting his turf and asserting his position, he seemed to be deeply concerned about making sure other people fulfilled their calling.
When Paul came to Jerusalem, the leaders were afraid to welcome him, fearful of the murderous Pharisee he had been. Barnabas bridged the gap, literally grabbing Paul and bringing him in to the fellowship and vouching for him. Years later, when Barnabas was sent north to the city of Antioch to encourage the new church there, it seems that shortly after his arrival he realized that what they needed was a depth of teaching that he couldn't give. So he walked over 400 miles round trip to the city Tarsus to fetch Paul!
Barnabas did not seem to mind that Paul was more talented than he was as a speaker or teacher, did not seem to care about who did the job or got the glory. He just wanted to see the Lord's work done.
Makes me think- there are not too many Barnabases running around today. We seem to be mostly concerned about our own gifts and our own place, about how we can perform a task. I wonder how the church would be different if we were more concerned with helping other people achieve their potential than we were about making names for ourselves.
I can say with confidence that I am nothing like Barnabas in this regard. I need to do a better job of caring about making sure others have a place than I am about protecting mine.