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Fathers of encouragement

“When [Barnabas] arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:23,24).

My dad used to have the lead role in my life. He was the one who led evening devotions and morning prayers. He and my mother were wonderful partners, but Dad bore the responsibility for making sure there was a roof over our heads. And when I stepped out of line, Mom didn’t hesitate to say, “Go to your room; your father will deal with you when he gets home.”

But roles change over time. Children become adults. Many dads wonder what role they might play in the lives of their adult children. God gives us a model in a “son of encouragement.”

Supporting roles lead to great blessings

When persecution scattered the early church, believers started a church in Antioch. Far from their home church in Judea and at risk for their lives, those Jewish refugees still shared Jesus with the people around them. What difficult, frightening work that must have been!

When believers in Jerusalem heard about the church in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to them. He told those new Christians that their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem rejoiced in what God was doing among them. In scary times, he encouraged them to be faithful. He was a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” He lived his Christian life and encouraged and supported the new congregation.

Barnabas’ name fit him well. It means “son of encouragement.” While Barnabas wasn’t the lead missionary or preacher in the early church, he’s often described as bringing joy, encouragement, and strength to believers when they needed it most.

God’s people still need encouragers today

The Christian church has set aside June 11 as a day to remember the encouragement God gave to his church through Barnabas. Our country has set aside the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

Barnabas sets an example for us as we celebrate Father’s Day. Fathers, you may not be in the lead role of your son’s or daughter’s life anymore, but you still have an important role. Take a lesson from the son of encouragement and make it your goal to be a father of encouragement. Let your children hear you rejoicing and giving thanks for God’s grace in their lives. Encourage them to be true to the Lord. Ask them about their church lives and their family faith life. Give them support where they need it and be honest about the challenges you faced. Strive to set a good example by living a life marked by faith and goodness. God used Barnabas. He’ll use you too.

My father doesn’t lead me in home devotions or prayers anymore. He doesn’t pay for my food or clothes. His role in my life has changed. But he tells me he prays for me and my family. He listens thoughtfully and gives godly advice. He talks about the church services and Bible readings that are still a regular part of his and Mom’s life. And God uses him to encourage me.

Whether you’re a father, son, daughter, mother, or Christian friend, consider how you might encourage those God has placed in your life. May God bless your efforts.

Author: Joel Seifert
Volume 108, Number 6
Issue: June 2021

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