160622hands-holding-white-heart-generosityWhat’s so special about a “role model”?

Many people in Scripture have served as role models in my life. One of my favorite role models as a Christian leader is Barnabas. He gives us a wonderful blueprint of how to live out our calling as Christian leaders.

The word I associate most often with Barnabas is ‘generosity.’ Let’s take a look at some ways generosity characterized his life and ministry.

Generous with his possessions

Barnabas understood the principle of generosity. Acts 4:36-37 tells us he sold some land and brought the proceeds from the sale to the apostles. His example stands in stark contrast to that of Ananias and Sapphira, who withheld some of the money from the sale of their land for their own use. While Barnabas trusted God to supply all his needs, it seems Ananias and Sapphira questioned whether he would provide for them. Barnabas simply obeyed and trusted God, gladly giving all he had received and holding nothing back.  May we all exhibit that same kind of “trustful obedience.”

Generous with his praise

Luke tells us Barnabas was actually a nickname for Joseph of Cyprus and meant “son of encouragement.” That tells me Barnabas was a great guy to have around in trying times. During its early days, the church at Jerusalem experienced times of great joy, as well as hardship and persecution, but through it all Barnabas seems to have been a constant source of support and faith, always seeing the best in every situation.  The church is in desperate need of leaders who see the best in both the people they serve and the circumstances in which they lead.

Generous with his position

While Barnabas is not credited with having written a word of the New Testament, through his impact on the lives of the apostle Paul and John Mark, and their subsequent influence on other writers, it is possible to say that Barnabas had a significant role in 60 percent of the New Testament. That would make him truly an “unsung hero” of the New Testament, a background guy who shunned the spotlight. Throughout our encounters with Barnabas in the Book of Acts we see him backing out of positions of leadership and championing the leadership potential of other people, primarily Paul. Barnabas understood his giftedness in a way that made it easy for him to stay in the background, supporting and encouraging others as they “led from the front.” I believe the greatest gift a leader can give to the organization he or she leads is the gift of qualified and equipped leaders who can lead at a high level.  That happens best when senior leaders are not afraid to share the leadership spotlight with up-and-coming leaders within the organization.

Steve Holt serves as director of the Church Services Group of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s Executive Board office in Brentwood, Tennessee. Prior to coming to the TBC staff, Steve served for over 17 years as a pastor in Northeast Tennessee.  His email is sholt@tnbaptist.org and phone is (615-210-4532).


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