Barnabas people are those who soak in and store up God’s word (Psalm 119:11).
This is not a simplistic call to stop thinking critically and be nice to each other. After all, Barnabas, the paragon of encouragement, clearly had a backbone. He went toe-to-toe with Paul over Mark (Acts 15.36–39″>Acts 15:36–39). But he was characterized by encouragement, not combativeness or critique.
So this is a call for us to cultivate a culture of encouragement wherever we are. It’s a call for us to become Barnabas people, odd people who are so characterized by being encouraging that it becomes part of our identity. Barnabas people give grace to those who hear them. They are at-large hope-infusers to the discouraged.
If you need help in becoming a Barnabas person (like I do), one of the best, most practical things I’ve ever read on encouraging others is Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree. Sam is a Barnabas, and a maker of Barnabas people.
But becoming a Barnabas person really begins by asking the God of encouragement to transform us into sons of encouragement who have Spirit-empowered discernment so that we leave whomever we interact with today more encouraged than we found them.
“Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).