Lesson of Encouragement from St. Barnabas

St. Barnabas, "son of encouragement"

St. Barnabas, “son of encouragement”

June 11th is the Feast Day of St. Barnabas. Joseph was his actual name, but the apostles called him Barnabas which means “son of encouragement”. (Acts 4:36)

Barnabas encouraged St. Paul in his missionary work, and also the early Christians throughout the ancient world. He was what I would call a “cheerleader” for St. Paul. It was Barnabas that stood up for Paul when he first converted while the other believers were still afraid of him. It was Barnabas who helped the early Christians accept Paul and his mission.

Reflecting upon Barnabas in his role, I thought about my role as a mother and grower of saints. It is easy to tell my children the things that they need to do better, whether it is cleaning their bedrooms or doing their school work or even being kind to one another. Of course that is part of my job as a mother, however instead of looking at what needs to be done better or improved, I could first focus on the good that I see in my children.

For example, Patrick, my son, is an artist and is constantly creating. As a result there tend to be sheets of paper and pencils strewn across his room. I have been guilty of walking into his room and immediately saying, “Pick up these papers. This room is a mess.” I was only seeing the messy room, but I was missing the fact that he was using his God-given talent to write and illustrate books. Yes, Patrick does need to learn to better organize his papers, but I, as his mother and #1 cheerleader, need to encourage him in his creative work.

Learning from St. Barnabas, I have tried very hard to encourage my children! I fall short, but I do believe it makes a difference when I can build them up and point out the good instead of immediately seeing the bad.

As moms, by encouraging our children, they know we believe in them. They know that no matter what is going on in their world, they have a mother who will be their biggest fan. They know their mom believes in them, bolstering their belief in themselves. This gives our children the confidence to accomplish their dreams and do God’s will in their lives.

Barnabas probably never know how profoundly St. Paul would change the entire world, but he believed in Paul, and his encouragement was instrumental in the launch of Paul’s ministry.

Let us as mothers believe in our children and be their greatest cheerleaders! Perhaps we are raising another great evangelizer of the Catholic faith … or a doctor who will discover amazing cures … or a mother who will dedicate her life to raising loving faith-filled children … or a saint.

“The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas [to go] to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord.” -Acts 11: 22-24

St. Barnabas, son of encouragement, pray for us.


  1. What a great post! I don’t know if I’ve ever learned about St. Barnabas, so thank you for teaching me something new. And thank you for encouraging us to be encouragers, especially to our children!

  2. Fr. Mike Sis says:

    Thanks for this insightful post. I can appreciate the array of papers of the artist at work.

  3. I agree with Blair … it’s great to learn something new! I didn’t know about Barnabas’s practice of encouraging others nor did I know his relationship to Paul! While we don’t have any children of our own, I can think of lots of moments where I didn’t stop to see the best in someone. Here’s to making a new resolution! Thanks Margaret!

  4. Sue Lyons says:

    I am going to pick a specific attribute to compliment my children – let’s see if I can do that for each one! I see lots of things that I like, but I don’t usually TELL them. Also, I don’t usually tell them I love them unless they tell me first. Thanks for opening my eyes, Margaret!

  5. Meredith Luck says:

    Thanks Margaret, please keep writing! I truly needed to read this article today! I think all mother’s have moments when we can handle a situation better, but the instinct to be better is straight from God and prayer. You are a incredible mother Margaret! I have two little artists of my own and I help them organize their works of art in inexpensive three ring binders, so they choose which works of art to keep and toss.
    Sue- a great book: The Temperament God gave your Children by Art Bennett.

  6. Sarah Curtis says:

    Thanks Margaret! Your post came at the perfect time, just when I needed a friendly reminder of my role as mother and encourager. As a mom of two teenage boys, I constantly have to remind myself to build up instead of tear down and ultimately remember that they are God’s children first! What a great friend you are!

  7. Dear Margaret, your closing paragraph brings happy tears to my eyes, “Let us as mothers believe in our children and be their greatest cheerleaders! Perhaps we are raising another great evangelizer of the Catholic faith … or a doctor who will discover amazing cures … or a mother who will dedicate her life to raising loving faith-filled children … or a saint.” What an honor and joy to have the opportunity to encourage our children and cheer them on into their full potential! May we never cripple them by verbally tearing them apart. Words are so powerful!

  8. Beautiful post, Margaret! What a wonderful mother you are! I agree with Christine – your last paragraph is just lovely!

  9. Beverly says:

    Oh my beloved friend, this is such an important reminder for me (and Gordon). Thank you for using the Feast of Saint Barnabas to share your timely message. I am so glad you have a blog; please keep the posts coming!

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