The Law of Empowerment Part 11
Barnabas Gives Power to Others-Acts 9:27
Only empowered people can reach their potential. When a leader can’t or won’t empower others, he creates barriers within the organization that people cannot overcome. If the barriers remain long enough, the people give up, or they move to another organization where they can maximize their potential.
If you want to be a successful leader, you have to become an empowerer. Theodore Roosevelt realized that “the best executive is one who has the sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
Truth is that the only way to make yourself indispensable is to make yourself dispensable. In other words, if you are able to continually empower others and help them develop so that they become capable of taking over your job, you will become so valuable to the organization that you become indispensable.
Can I Get a Lift?
Barnabas was definitely a lifter of people. It seems as though he let no opportunity escape to add value to others. And his greatest single contribution in terms of empowerment can be seen in his interaction with Paul.
To be an encouraging leader you have to be willing to take chances on people. You have to look for the potential in them and encourage them to believe in themselves. And that can be risky, because they may not come through. But if they do, the payoff can be huge. You may be responsible for inspiring a new leader to achieve things he never thought possible. And leaders never forget the first person who believed in them.
Scripture says that Barnabas took Paul “and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27).
Can you imagine how things might have gone in Jerusalem in those days? Once Paul arrived in the city, word reached the apostles that he was claiming to be a supporter of Christ. They must have thought it was a trick. Here was the same man who had stood by and approved the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr!
Barnabas must have shown up at one of the apostles’ gatherings with Paul in tow. An uncomfortable silence no doubt fell over the gathering as people realized the identity of Barnabas’s companion. And then Barnabas told Paul’s story. Paul didn’t have to say a word. All the believers knew Barnabas. They knew his reputation, his integrity. That was all it took. Scripture records, “So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out” (Acts 9:28). The church had accepted Paul.
One of the best things you can do as an empowering leader is to sing your people’s praises to others. When they’re doing a good job, tell everyone. Be especially intentional about praising them to their friends and family. But also bring them before other leaders. Help them to make a connection on the strength of your credibility.
The connection between Barnabas and Paul didn’t end in Jerusalem. After Barnabas’s endorsement enabled Paul to move freely throughout Jerusalem, teaching the people and debating the truth of Scripture, it wasn’t long before Paul became an enemy of nonbelievers. The apostles wisely sent him back to Tarsus for his own safety.
But later, when Barnabas was assigned to help the church in Antioch, he found Paul and made him his companion. That action empowered Paul to take his first “assignment” as a leader, and it led to Paul’s partnership with Barnabas as a missionary—the role for which God had destined him.
To be an empowering leader, you must do more than believe in emerging leaders. You need to take steps to help them become the leaders they have the potential to be. You must invest in them if you want to empower them to become their best.
Empowering people takes a personal investment. It requires energy and time. But it’s worth the price. If you do it right, you will have the privilege of seeing someone move up to a higher level. And as an added bonus, when you empower others you create power in your organization.
Join me next time for The Law of Empowerment Part 12