Do you know Debbie Downer?
She’s the self-designated joy-killer, the wet blanket, the rain that falls on everybody’s parade.
Her name comes from the title character of a popular Saturday Night Live skit from a few years ago.
But unfortunately Debbie has a life off the stage, and most work and school environments have a Debbie or two spreading discouragement wherever they go.
We’re getting a new boss (I’ve heard she’s terrible).
Quarterly profits are up (it won’t last).
Beautiful weather out today (the pollen is horrible).
You know her, right?
Occasionally she even finds her way into some of our churches, but I’m glad to say that most Christians I know have less in common with Debbie and more in common with one of the greatest Christians you’ll ever read about.
You probably don’t even know him by the name his parents gave him—Joseph.
At some point along the way his buddies got together and decided Joseph just didn’t work. Too unimaginative for someone like their friend. Too nondescript. Boring. Bland.
So they scrapped Joseph and called him “Mr. Encourager.”
The name we know is Barnabas, a Jewish nickname that meant “one who encourages.”
He spread joy wherever he went.
He sold land to give the money to hungry Christians (Acts 4).
He welcomed a young Christian with a bad past into the church when everyone else was skeptical of his sincerity (Acts 9).
He brought different ethnicities together and gave second chances to people who messed up (Acts 11,15).
Everybody loved Barnabas.
And they still do.
Good churches have tons of folks who live like Barnabas.
He’s the guy you call when your girlfriend breaks up with you.
You want him with you when you’re getting the MRI results.
He’s the one who should lead your church greeters.
He’s the best guy to call to smooth things over with a group of grumblers.
In fact, Barnabas is the guy who needs to be in all of us.
In your non-church life, you’ll have to tolerate a lot of Debbies.
She’ll be the one criticizing the new boss or complaining about the new work policy. She’ll be griping about the weather or her workload or her sore toe.
But let’s do our best to keep her attitude out of our hearts.
Be a Barnabas today.
Smile. A lot.
Tell your kids you’re proud of them.
Pay your spouse a very specific compliment.
Pat somebody on the back for a job well-done.
Send a note to someone at church who needs encouragement.
Text someone an encouraging word.
Shoot an email to a co-worker about a project she did well.
Wherever you go, spread some joy.
You never know what’s going on in people’s lives. Chances are you’re going to interact with someone today who’s struggling with things you’ll never know about.
Bring a little sunshine, not rain.
You’ll make the world a better place.