Green: Becoming an encourager, making a difference for others


A few weeks ago, my nephew graduated from Angelo State University. I’m extremely proud of him, even if I am more of a Tarleton fan. His last name is Smith, so I went to his graduation ceremony ready for a looooong wait for the S’s, to finally hear his name, watch him walk across the stage, and cheer him on. But during the ceremony, I learned a new life hack, and I plan to use it for basically everything, from now on.

Renae Green column

We arrived early, and I found a seat where I had full view of the stage. A few minutes later, a couple sat directly to my right, the woman next to me, her husband next to her. When the ceremony started, the man whooped and hollered like he was at the Super Bowl and his team was in the lead. He had a deep, bellowing bass voice that roared through the stadium. Fast forward to the name-calling: the man cheered for the very first name on the list. Lucky guy, I thought. I half expected the couple to get up and leave, rather than stay for the rest of the ceremony.

Then the second name was called. The man shouted that person’s name. “Way to go, Madi!” Then the third, and the fourth, and the 17th… That fellow cheered at the top of his lungs for every single name on the list. People around us turned and looked, chuckling and shaking their heads. It was clear he didn’t know all these people. He just wanted to make sure every person there had someone cheering for them, and that they knew it.

I stopped watching him in my peripheral vision and watched the people on stage. Each time they heard their name cheered on from the stands, their smiles got a little wider. Some of them turned and waved, and the man waved back. His wife hid her face in her hands, but I could tell she was amused, even pleased.

“Is he always like this?” I asked her.

“Oh, Lord, yes. Never a dull moment.”

I didn’t catch the man’s name, but in my mind, I’ve nicknamed him “Barney.” He reminds me of another Barney, found in the Bible. Actually, the Bible character was Barnabas, and he’s known as the encourager. Barnabas didn’t write any books of the Bible. He wasn’t a gifted preacher or teacher. But in my opinion, what he provided was far more rare, far more important.

Scripture tells us Barnabas encouraged others in several ways. First, he was a generous giver. He sold some of his land and gave the proceeds to help meet the needs of other disciples. During that time, many Christian converts lost their jobs and their livelihoods because of their faith. Barnabas wanted to help however he could, so he sold his land and donated the money.

He was also a good and loyal friend. Understandably, when Saul (a known Christian killer) converted to Christianity himself, other Christians didn’t trust him. Barnabas stood by Saul (later known as Paul) and smoothed the way for him to earn trust.

Finally, he encouraged those in the ministry. It was a difficult path, but Barnabas was there, cheering them on, telling them to keep going and not give up. He was there, telling them what a great job they were doing and that what they did mattered. He was there, bellowing their names from the stands, causing them to lift their heads, wave, and keep moving forward.

Too often, I think about my contributions to this life as a personal, singular endeavor. From now on, I want to look further. I may not have unequaled brilliance, brains, or brawn, but I can encourage those who do. I can give generously. I can be a loyal friend. And I can watch others on their journey, shout their names, tell them what a great job they’re doing, and inspire them to keep going.

The word encourage means to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence. My goal, for 2022 and beyond, is to be an encourager. I want to yell at the top of my lungs for those around me. I want to fill their hearts with courage, confidence, and the spirit to hold their heads up, smile, and keep going.

“Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 4:36-37.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com