Coach ’em up

There was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). – Acts 4:36

1 Thessalonians 5:11-18

 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

 14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

 15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

 16 Always be joyful.

 17 Never stop praying.

 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

An encourager is literally one who “inspires with courage,” spirit, or hope, enheartens, stimulates, and motivates. An encourager is like a good sports coach who motivates players to believe in themselves and do their best. Good coaches play many roles:  trainer, counselor, confidant, nurturer, guide, leader, mentor, shepherd, and tutor. Their purpose is to build character as well as develop talent.

Coach ’Em Up, LLC is an Austin, Texas-based company providing year-round basketball and volleyball programs for elementary and middle school students in the Austin area. Belief in the positive influences of strong and accurate coaching and the understanding and importance of age-appropriate progression and teaching are the cornerstones of our business.

Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always (Roy T. Bennett).

“Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts . . .” (Robert Fulghum).

In our culture, we might say that an acorn does not fall far from the tree meaning that one is not that different from one’s parent. It can be expressed, “Kids are like their parents; a chip off the old block; like Father, like son”

In the Jewish culture, a similar concept is expressed by the phrase “son of.” It indicates the qualities or characteristics which distinguish a person.

Acts 4:36 Joseph was one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.”

Perhaps, Barnabas was a natural born encourager, or perhaps he had the spiritual gift of encouragement. Regardless, he is referred to as “Son of Encouragement” or “Son of consolation” (Acts 4:36). 

There’s an odd thing about the nicknamed Barnabas, which is not readily apparent on the surface. The Greek word for encourager or encouragement is parakletos. So we might expect his nickname to be “Barparakletos” not  Barnabas. But Barnabas is not a Greek word; it is a it is derived from Hebrew or Aramaic. Bar is the Hebrew word for son and nabas is a form of the Hebrew word for prophet.

This is even more confusing because prophets tend to be spokesman and confronters, not comforters. However, prophets are also comforters. Sometimes the Father gave them a mission to comfort people.

Isaiah 40:1-2 

 1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone, and her sins are pardoned.  

When each of the Father’s children is born again, the Father sovereignly bestows spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift can be defined as an ability or talent to perform a given function with ease and teach others how to do the same thing. For example, Billy Graham had the gift of evangelism. It was easy for him to share the gospel with others. Yet, he also taught untold numbers of people how to do the work of an evangelist.

So perhaps what we see in Barnabas is a man transformed from a harsh, confrontive prophet, to a soft, tender, encouraging, comforting prophet.

Barnabas was known for his kindness and support of others (Acts 9:26–27; 11:22–26; 15:37).  Barnabas thus embodies the ideal of a servant-leader. In so doing, he shows that he is indeed a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the perfect servant-leader. 

The apostle Paul exhorts each child of God, to encourage and comfort others.

1Th 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. Rather than tear down people, criticize them, judge them, yell at them or threaten them, we should make it our goal and purpose to “coach ’em up.”

REFLECT & PRAY

Coach ’em up. Perhaps that is exactly what the Father did for Barnabas.

Father encourage me to “coach ’em up” in the same way as You have encouraged me.

INSIGHT

Perhaps there is some encouragement here for each of us. None of us are stuck with what we were born. It is possible for the Father to do something that is not natural or normal. He is able to transform an individual’s personality from the inside out. We have the freedom and ability to allow the Father to do just that for each of us. We are capable of becoming whatever the Father wants us to be.

Consider John and his brother James. Early in the Gospels, they were known as the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17). They were easily angered and known for their zeal and ambition. They were demanding, fiery, intolerant, brash, reckless, unyielding, and impetuous. They were ready and willing to call down fire on the Samaritans. ​

Luke 9:54-56

 54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of;

 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

But this same John became known as the Apostle of Love

We see a transformation in John as the beloved disciple. His gospel overflows with his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. His epistles even more so. He certainly did not start out loving and caring. His love was not the product of nature, but rather nurture. He acquired it from time spent with the Lord Jesus Christ on earth and decades of walking with Him. The perfect servant-leader coached ’em up.

James 1:19-20

 19 But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be (Stephen R. Covey).

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