What Would They Call Me?

We call someone who is optimistic and positive a Pollyanna. Our name for a woman who stirs the pot and creates a lot of mayhem might be a drama queen. And we might say someone who lets everyone walk all over them is a doormat. We tend to give labels based on demeanor, attitude, words and actions. I'll admit it - I know a couple of men from former churches that I called "the turtle" and "the weasel." I won't tell you who they were and why I called them that (only to myself, by the way), but suffice it to say they earned these titles by their consistent poor behavior.

But in the book of Acts we are introduced to a man whom Jesus' apostles affectionately called "Son of Encouragement" or Barnabas. Did you realize that Barnabas wasn't this missionary's birth name? His name was actually Joseph, but he was called Barnabas because, like the turtle and the weasel, his character, consistent behavior, and attitude earned him the name. And so, throughout the rest of the New Testament, wherever Joseph the Levite of Cyprian birth was mentioned he was called Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement.

Why did the apostles call this man Son of Encouragement? Here's a little list of some of the things I found out about Barnabas from the Scriptures. See if you don't agree with the apostles' assessment:
I'd say they got Barnabas' name right. He was indeed a son of encouragement, the kind of guy you'd want to know and be associated with, the kind of man you'd want on your side when the going got tough, and the type of friend you'd want to lift you up when you were sinking.

There are folks all around us today who could use a little encouragement. As we see from Barnabas' example, encouragement isn't just all about words or platitudes either. It's about standing next to someone who's facing the firing squad, so to speak. It's about defending the helpless and holding up the weak. Encouragement includes financially supporting those you believe in, those who are doing something important and sacred. It also includes a steady diet of prayer and worship so that strength and joy and fortitude flow easily from you to others. Encouragement means you keep going in the face of discouragement until slowly but surely your own courage returns and even spreads to those around you. And it means always, always giving God the glory and honor He alone deserves and never gobbling up the praises of men for yourself.

Realizing that Barnabas wasn't really Barnabas at all, but that he had simply earned that name by his consistently encouraging conduct, made me think about my own name. Not the name I was given at birth, but the "names" I've earned. I hesitate to spend too much time thinking about it, to tell you the truth. The prospects are a little scary. But I can determine the "names" by which I'd like to be called from this day forward. "Daughter of Encouragement" would be a good one, as would "Godly Girl" or "Woman of Wisdom" or "Kay of Kindness" or "Faithful Follower."  Unfortunately I can't just fill out a few forms and send them into some government office to receive the rights to these names. I must earn them the old fashioned way - through a change in character, a renewal of my mind, consistent behavior, and an attitude that rises to the occasions I find myself in on a daily basis.

So, just to get us started, let's think about our name for today. At the end of this day let's reflect back on our attitudes, words and behaviors and determine what name we have earned - just for this day. A little scary, huh? But a worthwhile exercise no doubt. Tell you what, tomorrow I will even take the time to leave a comment in the comment section letting you know what name I gave myself for the day. Granted, the names we give ourselves may differ from the ones others think we have truly earned, but it's a place to start.

What would they call me? Good question. What would they call you?