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What's Your Nickname?

by Doug Bing, Washington Conference president

Do you have a nickname?

Maybe you have a nickname given to you by family or close friends.

Maybe you have nicknames that stuck to you that maybe even cause you pain. Nicknames that are shouted in school hallways or workplaces that are those unwelcome names that at times you cannot shake no matter how hard you try. Even after you have moved to new locations and times and seasons have changed at times your mind can switch to those names that have caused pain.

Of course, there are the nicknames that are given in as terms of endearment. There are nicknames that are given that describe you. There are nicknames that may be amalgamations of your given name. There are times that a person is more known by their nickname than by their given name. So much so that we may not even know their given name.

Like the story of Joseph in the Bible. Not the Joseph you may be thinking of that had the coat of many colors. (I like that story, too.) But the story of Joseph who was a Levite from Cyprus.

Still don’t remember him?

Maybe you know him by the name Barnabas.

Barnabas was called this name by the apostles instead of Joseph. Why? Maybe it was because of how Barnabas lived his life. You see the name Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement,” Acts 4:36.

Barnabas was known for encouraging people.


He was the one who sought out Saul (later named Paul) to encourage him and bring him to be introduced to the apostles. By doing so, he encouraged the apostles to accept Paul as a fellow believer and fellow apostle. Barnabas was the one who helped John Mark begin his ministry and continued to believe in him even when Paul was doubtful of John Mark. Barnabas was an encourager. He was all in with Jesus and he saw others through Jesus’ eyes and worked to mentor and encourage those whom Jesus placed in his life.

He certainly earned his positive nickname.


We can learn from Barnabas and his life of mentorship and encouragement to others. We all have a place in God’s kingdom and work on this earth. May it be one that if we are given a nickname that the name be one that points to how Jesus is working in our lives.