#366 Secure Leaders Encourage

January 31, 2024

In the previous issue we looked at how Jesus was a secure leader because He knew His authority, identity and destiny. His security allowed him to serve His disciples. Now, we’ll look at several ways that secure leaders serve those they lead—first by encouraging. The story of Barnabas gives us a beautiful picture of a secure serving leader, expressed in his encouragement. His name meant “son of encouragement” (see Acts 4:36) and one of his first actions was to encourage the church in Jerusalem to accept the newly converted Saul. Later, the leaders in Jerusalem sent him on an important mission to a new church in Antioch.

22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. (Acts 11:22-26a, NIV).

Barnabas arrived at this new church and “encouraged them.” We can learn from his example why secure leaders encourage others well.  

Secure leaders encourage because they focus on others.

Barnabas went to Antioch and saw “what the grace of God had done” in the lives of those in the church. He focused on them, not himself. He did not try to show how important he was and display the credentials that brought him to Antioch. Instead, he focused on those he could serve. Insecure leaders can’t get beyond themselves; their world revolves around their own goals, ambitions and objectives. They want others to focus on them. But secure leaders recognize that their leadership is not about them, it is about others. They are able to focus on those they serve.

Secure leaders encourage because they rejoice with others.

Barnabas arrived and saw evidence of good progress in their lives. He knew he was a “good man” but he was secure enough to be ‘glad’ to see others doing well.  Insecure leaders are not confident in their own ability so they look to others to validate their accomplishments and affirm their progress. They work hard to impress others and call attention to their own achievements. They love to hear followers say how good they are and want others to rejoice with them. But secure leaders are confident in their own roles and look at the success of others and rejoice with them.  They serve by encouraging the progress they see in others.

Secure leaders encourage because they value others.

Barnabas not only encouraged the believers in Antioch, but he also looked for Paul to come and help in the work. He valued the teaching gift that Paul would bring to this team and was not threatened by his gifts. He was secure in his own value so could value others.  Insecure leaders are not confident in their own capacity and calling, so they compete with others in their attempt to get to the top and prove their value. They see the gifts of others as threats to themselves. But secure leaders know who they are, they honestly acknowledge their own strengths and weaknesses. They are not in leadership to push others down or to show how good they are. They value the gifts of others and serve by encouraging all the gifts on the team.    

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Would those around me describe me as a person who encourages them? (If you’re not sure, ask them!) How does the life of Barnabas challenge me to grow in the area of encouragement?
  • How much of my leadership is focused on myself and how much is focused on others? In what practical way today can I focus on and encourage someone on my team?
  • When others do well, what is my default response—to rejoice or be envious? Reflect on a recent example where someone else did well and was recognized for that. Evaluate how you responded. In what way did your response impact your leadership?
  • In what way do I value the gifts of others on my team? What can I do today to acknowledge and affirm the gift of a colleague or team member?         

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine how secure leaders delegate.