Henslee urges believers to be encouragers, like Barnabas

Kathleen Bustamante


In the book of Acts, Barnabas offers believers an encouraging pattern to follow in discouraging times Matt Henslee told the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College community during the Feb. 17 chapel message.

In his introduction of Henslee, Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Seminary and TBC, described him as a “tremendous friend and encourager” and expressed his appreciation for the ways Henslee has used his influence to expand the work and reach of Southwestern Seminary.

Henslee compared Matt Queen, Southwestern Seminary professor of evangelism and L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (“Chair of Fire”), to Barnabas, recounting his professor’s pattern of encouragement for him during various struggles as a student and beyond. He described friends like Queen as “priceless in ministry and life,” and added that those in ministry will never “survive and thrive” without friends who will encourage and challenge them.

Directing the attention of the assembly to Acts 11:19-25, which describes the spread of the Gospel along the Mediterranean coast, as well as the conversion of a vast number of Jews and Gentiles alike, Henslee highlighted verses 22-25. He noted that when Barnabas, who is described as “a man full of the Holy Spirit and faith,” arrived in Antioch and witnessed these events, he was glad and encouraged believers, providing an example for today’s believers to follow despite what he describes as “discouraging times.”

Acts 10, Henslee explained, “sets the stage” for chapter 11. He said that chapter 10 reveals that it was possible and necessary for Gentiles to hear and receive the Good News of Jesus Christ, and that it was unnecessary for Gentiles to first become Jews to be welcomed into the church.

Barnabas, Henslee observed, is mentioned throughout the book of Acts and he lives up to his moniker “son of encouragement.” Henslee explained, “time and time again Barnabas is there at just the right time and in just the right way.”  

Pointing to the ways technology and social media are used to cause destruction in today’s society, Henslee said, “We are not lacking sons of discouragement,” but that what society needs today is “sons or daughters of encouragement, guys or gals like Barnabas.”

Henslee emphasized the importance for believers to emulate Barnabas’ gladness when God blesses other churches or ministries. Highlighting verse 23, where Barnabas was glad upon witnessing the conversion of the Greeks, he emphasized that Barnabas was a Levite, so witnessing this conversion was not an “automagical response” at that time.  

“When God blesses that church up the road or moves in the ministry of that guy that kind of gets on your nerves, be like Barnabas here––be glad,” said Henslee. “See what God is doing and rejoice!”

Henslee also noted the Bible’s description of Barnabas in verse 24 as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” He emphasized that Barnabas was not called good, glad, or encouraging because he was good, but rather because he was full of the Spirit and full of faith. He further urged the assembly to emulate Barnabas in encouragement and gladness as a result of their faith.

Henslee serves as associational mission strategist for the Collin Baptist Association and the president of the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He serves as a church revitalization consultant through Southwestern Seminary’s Hemphill Center for Church Revitalization and previously served as pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico, and in leadership roles with the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

Henslee earned Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southwestern Seminary.

Henslee’s entire message can be viewed here.

Chapel is held every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10 a.m. (CT) in MacGorman Chapel on the campus of Southwestern Seminary. Chapel may be viewed live at swbts.edu/live.