Barnabas moved people toward maturity rather than dependence. Instead of simply telling people what to do, he helped people mature in making their own godly decisions. In this way, people grew in responsibility and in leadership. Paul casts a beautiful vision for this in Colossians 1:28, “[Jesus] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”

When you help people mature in making their own godly decisions people will grow in responsibility and in leadership. Share on X

Barnabas was an Active Listener

Active listening is a key skill in discipleship and leadership development. Listening matters because it has an outsized impact. It is when we listen well that we can discern God’s handiwork in others.

Active listening is a key skill in discipleship and leadership development. Share on X

Often we don’t have extensive descriptions of people’s personalities in the Bible, but Barnabas is one I can visualize. And I see an active listener.

When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord (Acts 11:22-24).

We see that upon arrival, he first assessed the situation to see what was going on. He took in the scene, then responded with his own emotions, and went on to encourage the people in what they were doing. Barnabas was not someone who took over and went with his own agenda. He listened, trying to discern what God might already be doing in the situation.

We Need More Active Listeners

Unfortunately, I’ve found there’s a scarcity of real listening in our world. We listen for information when we feel the need for it. We listen in sound-bites. We listen so we will know what we can say in response. We listen to bolster our own perspective or further our own agenda.

Most people don’t have someone who regularly takes the time to truly listen to them with focused attention. Active listening is a gift. Share on X

Most people– especially ministry leaders– don’t have someone who regularly takes the time to truly listen to them with focused attention. I’ve seen it again and again as I’ve taught coach training events. When I assign people 30 minutes of uninterrupted, focused time when someone else is really listening to them, asking questions, and encouraging them to share more, they’re amazed at the simple power of that experience. They recognize it as the rare gift that it is.

By following the example of Barnabas, you can give that gift to others.

For Meditation

The beauty of being a Barnabas is that it doesn’t depend on you having superpowers. It’s a ministry that allows ordinary believers to make an extraordinary impact. Active listening is a key component and something that with practice you really can learn to do.

Action

Try the listening exercise described above. Set aside 30 minutes of uninterrupted, focused time to really listen to someone else. Ask questions and encourage them to share more. Don’t steer the conversation or switch the topic to yourself or your ideas. At the end of the 30 minutes, assess the impact.

Resources

Effective Listening Series- This series of resources was created to help develop active listeners. Understand more about your listening skills and get a picture of your overall ability to listen effectively with the Listening Effectiveness Profile. Practice and learn active listening with the Effective Listening Skills Builder. Or, coach others to identify where they need to grow as a listener and help gain awareness and skill in active listening with the Effective Listening Coaching Guide and Storyboard.

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash