"They sent Barnabas and Saul to take this gift to the elders." Acts 11:30
This reference to the twin towers of missions, places Barnabas ahead of Saul, as the leader of the ministry. There would come a time when the roles would be reversed. References of the two would soon become Paul and Barnabas. Paul's preaching, passion and overwhelming persona would eventually overshadow the exhorting, and encouraging Barnabas.
Reversals of fame, fortune and faith are revealing. Crisis always reveals character, but seldom develops it. When Paul began to outshine Barnabas, The Encourager didn't take his light and go home, he continued to let it shine.
The Bible doesn't say a great deal about Barnabas, after he and Paul part company. When they disagreed about the role a young evangelist would play in their ministry, they ended their working relationship. It must have been a sad day for both of them. From what is known about both of these men, it didn't appear to end their love relationship. It never should.
In the matter of stewardship of one's call to serve God, one size does not fit all. In the eyes of denominational leaders, and a hero worshiping public, men and women of fame and fortune are sought out as photo-ops to represent their movement or to be the next scalp on their celebrity photo wall. The greater the name, the celebrity has made for themselves, the louder the sound it makes when it is dropped.
Note to self: Don't ever confuse a small church, as a sign of a small man. Scripture warns about despising the day of small things.
There had to have been groaning and bemoaning voices, back in the day, who sadly reflected on the ministry failures of Barnabas. "I remember when" kind of people seldom really see what God is up to in the life of those who He has called to serve Him. In God's eyes, there are no insignificant roles to play in His Kingdom work.
The way God made the human body, and the references Scripture makes of the church, as The Body of Christ, give guidance in this matter. Anyone who has ever hit their little toe, in the middle of the night, has learned how important the smallest part of a unified body can be. I feel your pain, indeed.
Jesus saved Saul. Barnabas encouraged Saul. Barnabas enlisted Saul. Barnabas led Saul. Barnabas played a role in the enlistment, encouragement and exhortation of a man who would be used by God, in a way that God would not use him. This is always a tough assignment, but it is an essential one in The Kingdom. Pride comes before a fall, and it needs to die, after the call.
As the Hebrew Saul, became more identified as Paul, the missionary to the Gentiles, he overshadowed Barnabas. In this process, Barnabas encouraged a young evangelist, John Mark. Paul rejected John Mark, due to his lack of maturity. This is what attracted Barnabas to him. The young man needed what he could give him, encouragement. When Barnabas could not leave John Mark behind, Paul left Barnabas. Barnabas enlisted John Mark, anyway. Paul enlisted Silas, and sailed away.The result? The reversal of roles, eventually led to a separation of these two men of God, but the ministry didn't end. It expanded.
One of the transitions in the life of a minister is the outgrowing of the man, from his mentors. In the early stages of ministry, immaturity, inexperience, and insecurities abound. Mentors help fill in the gaps, and round out the missing parts in the man, until God's Spirit develops the bone and muscle, and the grit and determination of a man of God. It is a slow process. Anything that grows overnight is a weed, not an oak
As a messenger of God matures, he is never above the need for accountability, but his number of mentors shrink, and he is less likely to take advice from everyone he meets. He comes into his own, by hearing, "Thus saith the Lord." The older he gets, he is less likely to be impressed with, "When I was your age."
Barnabas played the role God gave him. He was an encourager. When Paul's ministry began to develop and mature, he outgrew and overshadowed his mentor. It was not a sign from God that Barnabas was no longer needed. It was an opportunity to continue what he was called to do.
Note to self: Barnabas didn't try to to demean and destroy Paul's ministry, when it began to overshadow his own. He just kept shining. People in the dark, need The Light, more than you need your name in lights. You will never outgrow the song of your childhood, "LET IT SHINE! LET IT SHINE! LET IS SHINE!"
Prayerfulness purifies your motives. Prayerlessness putrifies your soul. When someone's light overshadows your own, pray for them. What you see about their ministry will often make you envious of them. What you don't know about their ministry would buckle your knees, if it was placed on your back. Before you whine about what God is doing for them, and not doing for you, pray for them. What you don't know is how much encouragement they need to keep moving under the weight of the assignment God has placed on their shoulders. Before their knees buckle, bend your own. Believe me. Someone is doing it for you. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!