Intentional Leadership Development
Acts 9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Barnabas had obviously spent time with Paul and was convinced that he had experienced the saving work of Jesus Christ in his life. He was willing to disciple Paul and when seeing the potential in this man, brought him to the inner circle of leadership in Jerusalem. He made the necessary introductions and vouched for Paul. Later he traveled with Paul on his missionary journey until they had a dispute at which time they went their separate directions, but by then Paul was ready to be on his own and his missionary efforts changed the world.
Barnabas gives us a great picture of what it means to be engaged in intentional leadership development. Too often people feel threatened by developing leaders, fearing they will lose their own positions of power and authority and therefore refuse to give space or nurture those whom God is raising up. Barnabas didn’t react in that way, but instead saw something in Paul and was willing to nurture his giftings.
We learn from Barnabas that we should have our eyes open, looking for those whom God is raising up. Somewhere along the way he saw Paul and he did not ignore his presence. It can be easy to be so self-focused that we simply miss seeing what’s in front of our eyes. We should pray that God helps us to see the people he is sending our way, ones whom we are to disciple and in whom we should develop gifting.
After seeing Paul, Barnabas took the time to get to know him and to listen to his testimony. God had done a genuine work of transformation in the life of Paul. Unfortunately this is not always true in the life of an individual. There are those who may testify to a life-change because it is convenient but they have not allowed the Holy Spirit to cleanse them deep down in their depths! A genuine work of God must be seen in the life of an individual — something that could never have been done on their own. This is not about a human desire for leadership but about God’s calling and transformation in the life of an individual. We must pray for God’s discernment when working with people.
After hearing Paul’s testimony, Barnabas evaluated his giftings. Paul was a talented and gifted individual and Barnabas seemed to understand that these gifts needed to be directed into service for God. Some people have more talents than others and when it comes to intentional leadership development we must recognize that we may be the person with the keys to unleashing those talents for kingdom use or not. The reality is that a gifted person will use their gifts. If the church doesn’t give them a place to serve, those gifts will go elsewhere. We should never be jealous of the gifts of another person — God has given them those gifts for the sake of the kingdom. We should provide every opportunity for those gifts to shine through and give glory to God.
It’s easy to become comfortable with the same old players! Not only is it comfortable but it is powerful and retaining power within the same group of individuals then becomes reciprocal. Intentionally inviting someone into the inner circle and sharing power with them is a huge thing. Barnabas was willing to bring Paul into the inner circle because he was engaged in kingdom business, not in Barnabas business!
Barnabas did all that he could to help Paul flourish and eventually Paul’s leadership superseded that of Barnabas. Somehow I think that in the end, Barnabas was okay with that because he could look at what Paul had accomplished and know that he had a part in it all. This is what happens when we intentionally develop leaders that God has placed across our path. Our joy should not be in the things that we accomplish, but in the people that we develop and their accomplishments. We are to invest in people whom God is and will use mightily in kingdom work.
Lord, please help me to have the eyes to see those whom you are wanting to develop around me. Amen.