St Barnabas was first called Joses, but because of his positive, energetic and generous nature he was given the new name “Son of Consolation” or “Son of Encouragement.”

So today on his feast day why not stop and ask yourself how much encouragement you do of others? Ask yourself how much time you spend criticizing others, tearing them down and gossiping about them. What good does it do? If there is a problem, be a grown up and either solve the problem or shut up and bear the difficulty with dignity.

One of the worst things in community, in family, in parish, school or workplace is the constant negativity towards others. This takes several forms:

1. assuming the worst rather than the best about a person. Why do you do that? The other person didn’t get up in the morning resolved to be the next Darth Vader. If he messed up it was a mistake. He wanted the best–just like you. He wanted a good day. He just flubbed. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Assume that he wanted the best not the worst and therefore assume the best about him not the worst.

2. Not finding out the facts. When you think ill of another person almost always it is because you have got some information about them second or third hand and you’re dumb enough to believe it–just like you believe that stuff on the internet. Don’t believe everything you hear just as you hear it. There is always, always, always another side of the story. With hold judgement and take time to find out the facts.

3. Not dealing with people face to face. If you have a problem with someone be grown up enough to go to that person and talk to them face to face. It is very difficult to be nasty and gossipy straight to a person’s face. Very easy to be nasty and gossipy behind their back. If there is a negativity. Deal with it positively and pro actively.

4. Assuming the other person is there to serve you. No they’re not. You are there to serve them. When you go to solve the problem you ask them what you can do to put things right.

5. Blaming others. Don’t blame others. Take the blame yourself. Even if you are not to blame, take the blame. It’s amazing how that takes the wind out of their sails and de-fuses the argument. Be humble enough to accept the problem because if there is a problem you really are part of the problem and you are also part of the solution. Grown ups take responsibility  and they solve problems rather than causing them.

6. Being miserable. Some people like being miserable. That’s actually the way the make themselves feel important. This is what babies do. They cry and howl and whine to get attention, and it works. A lot of adults do the same. Stop it. Unless you’re suffering from clinical depression, you can decide to be happy. If you are unhappy either find out what the problem is and solve it or bear your suffering with dignity and grace.

7. Stop complaining. Babies complain. Adults get on and solve the problem and they encourage others to do the same.

St Barnabas would agree with all these bits of advice. He was full of the Holy Spirit and good grace. He was an encourager. He was generous and optimistic and trusting. He took the risk of going to meet St Paul when everybody else suspected him. He took charge of the situation at Antioch. He set out and preached the gospel and gave all.

Why don’t you today decide to follow in his footsteps and be an encourager too!

I encourage you to do so…