Some of my favorite people are those who have helped me figure something about my life and vocation:
- My friend and pastor David Monroe, always willing to listen to my ideas and give honest feedback and encouragement.
- Career counselor Nancy Parsley, who knows exactly the right questions to ask.
- My former supervisor Chuck Hohnbaum, who, during one of his first meetings with me, told me that his job was to help me prepare for rest of my career, wherever that might lead.
I could list many others. Whenever I’ve been faced with a vocational decision, I’ve sought out the advice of good and wise friends.
We need other people to help us find and fulfill our individual callings. Often, others can see our strengths (and weaknesses) more clearly than we can ourselves. They can also confirm our own opinion of our strengths, helping to protect us against self-deception, as well as reigning in our excesses. Other people can also let us know about opportunities that we aren’t aware of.
Featuring Barnabas in a Supporting Role
In keeping with the theme of this website, I’m fascinated with minor figures in history and the Bible who played pivotal roles in the lives of more famous people. Barnabas, one of the earliest members of the Christian church, was really named Joseph, but everyone called him “Barnabas,” which means “Son of Encouragement.”
Take a moment to reflect on what it would mean for someone to be nicknamed “Son of Encouragement.” Do you know anyone like this? In his first appearance in Acts (Acts 4:34–36), he sells a field he owns and gives the proceeds to the apostles for distribution to the poor. This must have been an incredibly encouraging and affirming act for the early church.
Several chapters later, Barnabas begins his long friendship with Paul. Soon after Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he had to flee the city out of fear for his life. He travels to Jerusalem, but the apostles don’t believe that his conversion is real. Remember – this is the man who, just shortly before, cheered on the death of the apostle James. The other apostles, justifiably, don’t want to give him access to the rest of the believers. Continue reading Can You Help Someone Find Their Calling?