When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. Acts 9:26
In an article on mentoring, Hannah Schell explains that mentors need to support, challenge, and inspire, but “first, and perhaps foremost, a good mentor sees you. . . . Recognition, not in terms of awards or publicity but in the sense of simply ‘being seen,’ is a basic human need.” People need to be recognized, known, and believed in.
In the New Testament, Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement,” had a knack for “seeing” people around him. In Acts 9, he was willing to give Saul a chance when the other disciples “were all afraid of him” (v. 26). Saul (also called Paul; 13:9) had a history of persecuting believers in Jesus (8:3), so they didn’t think “he really was a disciple” (9:26).
Later, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over whether to take Mark with them to “visit the believers in all the towns where [they’d] preached” (15:36). Paul didn’t think it was wise to bring Mark along because he’d deserted them earlier. Interestingly, Paul later asked for Mark’s assistance: “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).
Barnabas took time to “see” both Paul and Mark. Perhaps we’re in Barnabas’ position to recognize potential in another person or we’re that individual in need of a spiritual mentor. May we ask God to lead us to those we can encourage and those who will encourage us.
How have you been encouraged by someone who believed in you? How can you help others who need encouragement?
Father, help me to see and encourage others.
Learn more about what it means to lead and encourage others.
The believers in Jesus in Jerusalem didn’t trust Saul (also called Paul) and questioned whether his conversion was genuine. But what was the reaction of his former colleagues who’d worked with him to persecute the Christians? Acts 9:29 mentions Paul’s interaction with the “Hellenistic Jews” who “tried to kill him.” While a number of the Hellenists believed in Christ (6:1–7), many more didn’t. Hellenistic Jews were prominent in the group that conspired in Stephen’s martyrdom (6:8–7:59). It’s ironic that Paul was a key player among those who killed Stephen (7:58), and now that same group wanted to kill him. (This targeting of Paul may have helped assure the Jewish Christians that Paul’s conversion was real.) Those who’d killed Stephen thought they’d eliminated a problem. They hadn’t considered that one of their own would step up to take Stephen’s place.