11:22 "Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."
Barnabas is not a popular figure. If he were a sports figure he would be that guy that every team wants yet is rarely or never in the spotlight.
My mom loved Gaither videos. I think she bought every one they ever made. Bill Gaither is the most prolific Christian song writer of our time. However that is not his greatest gift. One of the members of his famous Gaither quartet said this about him "He spends all his time making everyone else look good." Gaither gathers talent from all over and creates these videos featuring everyone but himself.
Barnabas was like Gaither. He had the gift of unifying people. He had the gift of seeing and developing the best in people. The church in Jerusalem sent him to Antioch because Greeks were becoming followers of Jesus and they knew it had the potentially to be messy, complicated, and problematic. They knew if anyone could smooth the waters and strengthen the situation it was Barnabas. He went. He served. He taught. He encouraged. Then he did something leaders rarely do. He recognized there was someone better for the job and he went recruiting. He traveled likely at his own expense the roughly 250km from Antioch to Tarsus and found Saul and brought him back to Antioch. Something special was happening in Antioch and Barnabas could have been tempted to "be the man" and take the glory and attention for himself but Barnabas was nothing like that. He saw gifts in Saul that were needed in Antioch and he went and found him. So mighty was the influence of Saul in Antioch that the city will forever be known as the first place that these new followers of Jesus were called Christians.
In every church I have served there has always been at least one Barnabas. Men and women who get few if any applause. Men and women who aren't even recognized by many for the key role they play. Men and women who send their energies developing others and putting their gifts to use for God's glory.
Every light that shines has a whole system connected to it that makes it possible. People like Barnabas may rarely make the headlines but there are no headlines without them. Barnabas must have been paying attention when Jesus highlighted the importance of being a servant to all.