We must always be humble about our strengths and only serve with our strengths within the context of a diverse team, since our greatest strengths can all too easily become our greatest weaknesses. Barnabas’ greatest strength (and his greatest weakness) was always rooting for the underdog. He really and truly believed in people.
The first time he exercised his strength, it brought unity to the church! “
When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:26-27).
The second time he exercised his strength, it brought painful division. “Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus” (Acts 15:37-39). Our strengths are never a “one size fits all” for every situation, and most assuredly there will come a day when we are convinced the use of our strengths is helping, but in reality, it is actually causing damage. At that moment, we desperately need contra from those whose strengths are quite different than our own. And this, dear friends, is also the reason we must refuse to mistake the strengths of others on our team for weaknesses, even on those occasions when these differences result in friction, and even open conflict.
“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Rom 12:6, 10).