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Be a Champion: A Lesson from Barnabas
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This next week, try a little experiment. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.

At some point each day for the next seven days encourage someone. Tell that person that you believe in them, that you think they are doing a great job.

We all know someone who is trying hard at something – losing weight, working on a project, continuing an exercise program, or perhaps even being a good parent.

To that person, say something like this: “You are really good at that. I’m proud of you!”

Then, just watch what happens. Look at their face, their demeanor, their motivation to continue. Encouragement is a gift we give others.

I learned the power of encouragement from the retired dean of health professions at Armstrong, Jim Repella.

I always felt a bit more self-confident and motivated after an encounter with Dr. Repella.

If he saw me down the hall, he would yell out, “There he is! The famous Dr. LeFavi! He’s my champion!”

I would usually laugh, and I was pretty sure I was not the only one Jim Repella was calling his champion. But, the fact is, I always walked away knowing he was supporting me, wanting me to do well – that he had my back.

I would always leave such an encounter just a bit more encouraged to keep pressing on.

I learned the power of encouragement from the Bible as well.

In the New Testament, there is an interesting story about a man named Barnabas, although his actual name was James. (He was called Barnabas because that means “Son of Encouragement.”)

After Saul’s conversion, which we read about in Acts 9, Saul goes to Jerusalem.

Of course, many Christians would not go near him. His reputation of hunting down Christians preceded him.

But Barnabas took Saul, and as verse 27 says, “brought him to the apostles.

He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly the name of Jesus.”

It was precisely this encouragement and support that enabled Saul to go out and speak “boldly in the name of the Lord.”

Now keep in mind that Barnabas’s encouragement and support for Saul was very dangerous.

He could have been wrong about Saul. If Barnabas was fooled by Saul, many would die.

Yet, he saw something in Saul others did not see. Because he looked and took the time to envision what Saul could do.

Hiding Christians saw what Saul had done; Barnabas saw Saul’s potential. The early Church looked at the past; Barnabas saw the future.

Taking the time to really look at someone, see their struggle, look deeply into that person’s life, and see their potential is what encouragers do.

I challenge you to take a few seconds – that’s all it will cost you – each day for the next seven days, and say something encouraging, complimentary and motivating to someone who could use it.

Watch their reaction, and see what that small gift you have given them can do for them – and who knows what else. Imagine what our faith would be had Saul not been encouraged by Barnabas to press on.

There is power in encouragement. Access that power through your words. You can do it. After all, you’re a champion!