When one person calls you a donkey, shrug it off. When two people tell you you’re one, grab a saddle. – Larry Osborne

David needed a Jonathan. Paul needed a Barnabas. Who do you need? 

Leaders have a tendency to get laser-focused, at times to the detriment of self-development. They narrow their focus on the task at hand, allowing life pass them by as if they were thoroughbreds with blinders. This life is a race, but a race is never done alone. That’s why we need to constantly remind ourselves to take off the blinders and notice the world around us.

Self-help books are raging. In fact, self-help is the single greatest category of books on Amazon and in Barnes and Noble (yes, paper books and bookstores are still around). We can read up on personality and personality disorders, leadership and leadership styles and so much more. But you know what else we can do? We can talk. We can put the book down for a few minutes, walk across the room, and ask someone, “Hey. How effective have I been lately? Is there anything I can do to make you a more accomplished leader?” We’re not saying self-help books are pointless, but we are saying that nothing trumps a good word from a friend.

That brings us back to Barnabas, the “Son of Encouragement.” 

Have you read the missionary stories of Paul and Barnabas all the way through? If you have, then you have undoubtedly noticed that their journeys together were not always the brightest and they eventually had to be separated. If that’s the case, then how can Barnabas be a son of encouragement to Paul? Simple.

Sometimes encouragement is a pat AND slap. 

If we can accept this, then we can grow. If we cannot, then we are left alone on a journey or with someone else who may not truly “get us”. Look. We are not saying Paul was not effective after the split from Barnabas. We know he absolutely rocked the church planting deal. If only we all could be as effective as him, right? But here’s the thing: how much more effective would he have been if he accepted the reproach from his best friend?

In the end, we are all a bunch of asses bringing Jesus to the masses. 

That’s literal. For real. Go back and read Mark 11, cause it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bringing Jesus to those who have yet to experience grace should be the aim of our lives. But we’ve got to be the right donkey. So here’s the deal: saddle up. Know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and remember to never ride alone.