Question: Does the book of Acts talk about a man named Barnabas? Most people who read the Bible would answer “Yes.” And indeed a scripture search for “Barnabas” will turn up many results. But this was not the man’s name. One of those passages clearly states that he was actually Joseph. There’s a great lesson here.
The word Barnabas means “Son Of Encouragement.”
Let’s reconstruct the situation. It must have been that there was a guy named Joseph who had such a positive influence on others that they began to refer to him as Barnabas, The Encourager. And it stuck so well that divine inspiration followed suit. That’s pretty amazing.
It’s also a reason to ponder. If the way people are addressed reflected character rather than education or position, I wonder if we’d see any changes. Perhaps some “Reverends” would have to forego the title. (In my opinion, they should anyway, but that’s a topic for another day.) Would every “Doctor” be known as a healing one? Etc.
Like any lesson, this one is best when applied personally. So I need to think about what I might be called. I know my goals in that regard. Let me keep working on it.
Novelist Juan Carlos Onetti said “I am not a writer except when I write.” The same applies for anything we do. A dentist out on the golf course is a golfer, not a dentist. More to the point, I know a man who frequently touches other people’s lives as a teacher, coach and mentor, though he does not carry formal titles in any of those areas.But to call him any of those names reflects his character and his mission in life much more than a formal job title or professional designation ever could. The lesson of Barnabas (a.k.a. Joseph)is one we all should take to heart.