I’m sure there have been people in your life of which you thought, “I’d like to be like her—or like him.” You saw things in that person which were attractive and endearing, and you desired those qualities for yourself. I want to encourage you to have that attitude toward a man named Joseph. His name was Joseph but the apostles called him Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement. You can read about him in Acts 4.
Imagine people calling you a name that signified you were an encouraging person. I can’t think of a greater compliment, can you? I want to show you how you can become a Barnabas in your workplace; you can be known as a person who encourages others. A good friend, Traci Mason, has compiled these ideas and allowed me to share them with you.
We all recognize that often our workplaces are full of discouragement, especially in these days of economic crisis. But this just gives us a perfect opportunity to help others by becoming an encouraging person. Now, mind you, this will take some time and effort on your part, but the return on your investment will be eternal!
So, here are some practical ways you can become a Barnabas where you work:
- Write notes. Handwritten notes are almost extinct. Keep a supply of note cards and encourage colleagues by placing a note on their desk, in their mailbox, or in their hand. It’s easy to make personalized cards on our computers now. So get creative and write a note just to encourage someone.
- Send e-cards. It’s really easy to send an e-card to your coworkers just to let them know you are thinking of them. You can even send the same card to multiple addresses. Employees receive messages that make requests and give instructions. They would surely welcome something more pleasant in the in-box, and an e-card would be a pleasant surprise.
- Remember birthdays. Find out the birthdates of coworkers, put them on your calendar, and simply give each coworker a birthday card to help them celebrate their special day. I’ve begun doing that for the women in my church, and we send out birthday cards here too. I’ve been amazed at how many people are encouraged to receive a special birthday card—and it’s so easy to do!
- Smile! Did you realize that by a simple smile you could cheer someone up and encourage someone? Smiles are contagious and can brighten the atmosphere where you work. When talking to or passing by others, just turn up the corners of your mouth and flash them a radiant smile. This costs you nothing, but it could really make a difference in someone’s day.
- Greet people! As you enter the workplace, greet coworkers with a simple, “Good morning.” You never know the energy it took for others to arrive at work. A pleasant greeting can start a person’s day off right and possibly help them forget about their troubles.
- Be the Welcome Committee. When a new employee joins the staff, introduce yourself and offer to be of assistance. Help that person find his or her way around, and offer to have lunch together. Think how comforting it could be to that new colleague because being the new person can be challenging and a little frightening.
- Share your lunch. Purposely take more than you can eat for lunch and invite a coworker to eat with you. Or if you baked something special and have some leftovers, bring it in for others to enjoy. You could go the extra mile and ask them ahead of time to share lunch with you the next day.
You may be thinking that these don’t sound that impressive or important, but it is so often the little things that we remember to do that touch someone else, helps them see they are not forgotten, and they are encouraged. Become an encourager on the job. It will make a difference.
Here are some more creative ways you can be a Barnabas on the job:
- Offer to help your boss. Instead of running from work or assignments, ask your boss what you can do today to help him or her, especially if you know that your boss is under a lot of pressure. Bosses need help just like everybody else, yet often they are overlooked.
- Be sensitive to the sniffles. Working while you’re sick isn’t easy. When those in your work environment suffer with colds, give care packages. Items such as cough drops, soup, tissues, tea or peppermint will provide relief and help them get through the day.
- Acknowledge good work. Even if you’re not a manager, you notice when coworkers do good things, and often they are not acknowledged. You could acknowledge it with a word, an email, or a written note, just to let them know that someone notices the effort they put into a job and it was appreciated.
- Offer to pray for a coworker. There are many times when a coworker shares a worry or concern with you, either personal or job-related. Instead of allowing it to degrade into a griping or gossip session, simply offer to pray for that person. You may not be able to pray at that moment on the job, but you can assure them that you will remember that situation in prayer. I believe you’ll find that some coworkers will begin to share prayer requests with you when they realize that you’re willing to pray for them.
- Listen. If a coworker wants to share a problem with you, take the time to listen and give that person your devoted attention. Obviously, you need to be careful not to take advantage of time you should be working, but a listening ear can be one of the most encouraging things you can do for a coworker.
- Be a good employee. It’s not always easy to submit to your boss, but that is what Christians in the workplace are to do. When given instructions, follow them—unless they would cause you to lose your integrity. Remember, you are working for Jesus and he is your true boss. Just being a good employee will be encouraging to your boss—if no one else—but it also sets a good example for others.
- Take second place. Be willing to be the last in line, to take the worst seat, and to let someone else take credit. That’s not easy to do sometimes, but it’s the servant attitude that Jesus had, and we need to have it as well.
- Apologize. If you’ve made a mistake, done something you should not have done, or said something you should not have said, own up to it as soon as possible and simply apologize. A friend of mine says the biggest difference between her and her coworkers who are not believers is that she apologizes more than they do! An apology can go a long way toward relieving tension in relationships, and it will indeed be an act of encouragement.
I think of that old song, “Home on the Range,” where never is heard a discouraging word! Well, wherever that range is, it’s not where most of us work, is it? So, we need to become Barnabases—people who refuse to be discouraged, and instead offer words of encouragement to those around us. It’s what Jesus would do, and we need to be his ambassador right where we work.
In these difficult times, many people are worried about their jobs, their savings, paying their children’s college tuition, paying the mortgage—the list goes on. Maybe you are now in that category and you need some encouragement.
Then I want to suggest that you follow the principle of sowing and reaping. There are three principles to sowing and reaping:
- You reap what you sow.
- You reap in a different season than you sow.
- You reap more than you sow.
Therefore, if you need encouragement today, then sow some encouragement. Encourage someone else and that seed of encouragement will come back to you in abundance. It may not come today, but it will come.
Isaiah 1:17 reminds us, “Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.” The Apostle Paul was continually encouraging people and admonishing new believers to be encouragers. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 he said, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Notice how he complimented them, while at the same time encouraging them to encourage each other.
This should be a trademark of a Christian—to be an encouraging person. Whether you have the gift of encouragement or not, we can all learn to be encouragers. I trust these simple ideas will cause you to stop and think about what you can do to be a more effective encourager—to be a Barnabas in your workplace.