Barnabas, the Book of Acts tells us, was called a “son of encouragement.” Many of us have Barnabas moments in life where we can draw from our own experiences to help others, and I had one recently. At one of our speaking engagements in the last year or two, we spent time with a young man who deeply impressed me with giftedness — good solid thinker, articulate, a church leader type, faithful and wise beyond his years, and had a wonderful reputation at his church. He was a college senior at the time and enthused about going to seminary.
We spent enough time together that I was comfortable writing a strong recommendation for him to a well-known seminary. That seminary did not admit this young man. I can’t imagine an entire batch of first year students being better than him, but so it is … he’s sorrowful over what happened.
His pastor recently wrote to me and told me about the situation, so I wrote to the young man to encourage him and I was told my letter was an encouragement to him. It was for me a Barnabas moment. I think one of my own experiences helped me.
When I went to Trinity as a student way back in 1976, I wanted to enroll in the M.A. program in New Testament so I did during the first semester, but I was not admitted — though I was not given reasons. So I applied again but was told I’d have to wait until the end of the first year so they could assess my abilities on the basis of my first year grades. Long story short: I was admitted and ended up being invited back to teach, and taught for a dozen years at Trinity.
That experience, which helped me sort through my own calling and led me to concentrate even more on my studies, gave me some foundations for helping this young man who is experiencing something similar to what I experienced. I told him not to give up but to dig deeper into his own calling … and I’m sure he is and will … and I’m also confident he will become a church leader someday. But for now, he’s wondering what he will be doing next Fall when he’d like to be in seminary.
Do you have any Barnabas Moments to tell us about?