How do we encourage others on their mission for Jesus?


The Great Commission is for every believer in Jesus Christ and it can be found in every Gospel, including the book of Acts (NKJV):

  • Matthew 28:19 –> “…Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Mark 16:15 –> He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
  • Luke 24:47-48 –> “…and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”
  • John 20:21 –> Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
  • Acts 1:8 –> “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

As a church we have been on a series going through the book of Acts, where we read about Jesus’ disciples going and doing the Great Commission. This past weekend we covered Acts 11, which includes a portion about a man named Barnabas who encouraged the believers in Antioch (check out the sermon from this past weekend HERE). How fitting since Barnabas’ name actually means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). We can learn a lot from him and how he not only did the Great Commission, but he also encouraged others to do the same. From his example, we learn that we can encourage others on their mission for Jesus by seeing them as Jesus sees them, by pointing them to Jesus, and by looking for ways to go together!

See them as Jesus sees them

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. (Acts 9:26-28 NKJV)

Saul, who had previously been intent on persecuting Christ followers, had a powerful conversion experience earlier in Acts 9, where he met with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Saul was never the same. He arose from that experience, was immediately water baptized (Acts 9:18) and began preaching that Jesus Christ truly was the Son of God in the synagogues (Acts 9:20). For Barnabas, he did not see Saul with just human eyes, but with the eyes of Jesus. In other words, while the other disciples chose to dwell on the fact that Saul was someone they used to fear because of his fervent passion to persecute Christians, Barnabas chose to dwell on the fact that Saul had been transformed by the power of Jesus, and was not the same man he once was.

Encouraging people on their mission for Jesus requires that we see them as Jesus sees them. A good question is this: how does Jesus see us after we have made a decision to follow Him? Saul, who became Paul, later said this to the believers in Corinth:

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:16-19 NLT)

When we put our faith in Christ and accept Him as the Lord of our lives, we not only become children of God (John 1:12), but we become a completely new person! The sinful way we used to live is no longer our mode of operation. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to live God’s way, full of the fruit of the Spirit that we find in Galatians 5:22-23, which are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (NLT).

Similar to the other disciples in Acts 9, we may be tempted to judge other believers for what they used to do or how they used to live, but we must be careful not to do this, because this is not who they are in Christ anymore! It might be that despite their old life being gone and the new life having begun, their old life may want to resurface, that is, a life independent from God. In that case, just as the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:18, as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s not a role to judge people, but to lovingly reconcile people back to God through repentance and faith in Jesus (1 John 1:9).

The devil would love nothing more than to discourage believers from trusting that the power of Holy Spirit is able to help us live new lives for Christ and to fulfill the Great Commission on this earth. Which is why we must be intentional about seeing others the way Jesus sees them and encouraging them on their mission for Jesus by reminding them of what Jesus says about them! I like what the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).

Point them to Jesus

19 Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. 20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.

22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:19-24 NLT)

The believers in Christ continued to preach and grow in number despite being scattered after the Jewish leaders stoned the apostle Stephen. The church intentionally sent Barnabas to assess and confirm what the Lord was doing, which was really a sign and a wonder, especially because more Gentiles were becoming followers of Jesus! Notice Barnabas was not jealous of the believer’s success, nor did he criticize them for the way they did things. Barnabas simply encouraged the believers to “stay true to the Lord” (verse 23).

Encouraging people on their mission for Jesus means that we point them to Jesus Himself. It may be tempting to want to recommend resources to improve knowledge and skills, or perhaps to even recommend what has worked for yourself – all good things – but far more important is to help others look to Jesus themselves, seek Him in God’s Word (the Bible) and pay attention to how the Holy Spirit is leading them personally. This ensures that we don’t try to fulfill the Great Commission with simply our intellect, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, which produces far better results. Barnabas himself was full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith, which tells us that both the work and leading of the Spirit in our lives is vital to having a strong faith in Christ.

Doing the Great Commission can be challenging. Jesus pre-warns His followers about this in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV). And so when things like persecution for our faith come, discouragements and disappointments, maybe even betrayals and setbacks, we must learn to look to Jesus, God’s Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit to help us navigate through these challenges.

Look for ways to go together!

25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:25-26 NKJV)

We learn earlier in Acts 9:28-30, that Saul (Paul) remained in his hometown of Tarsus after Greek-speaking Jews tried to murder him for preaching boldly in the name of the Jesus all around Jerusalem. It’s here in Tarsus that Barnabas found Saul and encouraged Saul to join him in preaching the Gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles in Antioch. It’s possible that the Holy Spirit led Barnabas to bring Saul for a variety of reasons. Perhaps Barnabas knew of Saul’s calling to preach to the Gentiles, as Saul later told the believers in Galatia about this calling by God: “But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles” (Galatians 1:15-16 NLT). Or perhaps Barnabas felt that Saul and him worked better as a team.

Encouraging people on their mission for Jesus means that we look for ways to go together. Going together can take several forms, such as, taking time to pray for one another in a small group setting like a church Life Group at Coastal Church, serving together in a church ministry, co-organizing a community BBQ to bless your neighbours, co-leading a team of volunteers for children’s ministry, the list could go on.

King Solomon wrote about the benefits of going together:

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT)

Personally, there have been many times when I have felt discouraged in living for Jesus and making disciples, but the encouragement and prayer of other brothers and sisters in Christ have been a tremendous anchor in my life. Sometimes when you’re struggling with something, all you can see is the problem that’s in front of you, but when you allow someone else to know your struggle, to encourage you and to pray for you, whatever you were struggling with doesn’t seem so big anymore.


How do we encourage others on their mission for Jesus? We can follow the example of Barnabas: we do this by seeing them as Jesus sees them, by pointing them to Jesus, and by looking for ways to go together! Fulfilling the Great Commission was never meant to be solo work, after all, when we come to Christ, He doesn’t just call us to Himself, but He also calls us to His body, the church! In a world where so many things can distract and discourage us from going and doing the Great Commission that Jesus has for us, we must make every effort to encourage each other on our journey through life until Christ returns or calls us home.