Being A Barnabas (Diet for Dreamers)

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Sometimes talent and enthusiasm aren’t enough. Sometimes what you know or what you can accomplish aren’t as important as who you know. This is a sad but true fact of life. Just check your history books. Christopher Columbus had an incredible dream and the chutzpah to chase it all the way to “The New World”; but until he received the support and financial backing of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, Captain Columbus was going nowhere fast.

Have you ever felt like you were spinning your wheels on the road to success? Understand that to achieve certain goals, to fulfill some dreams, you may need a little help from someone with specialized skills, experience, connections, or capital. A “friend” who’s willing to lend a helping hand, give some guidance, introduce you to the right people. You may need an agent, a mentor, a facilitator, a collaborator. You may need a Barnabas.

What’s a Barnabas? A person who’s willing to help another complete their “mission” in life. Someone who can open the right door for you, point you in the right direction, and get you started on your way. In the Book of Acts, there was a man named Barnabas who did this for the Apostle Paul, and the Gentile Church owes this facilitator a great debt of gratitude.

The Apostle Paul had a dream and a mission: to begin spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world — namely, the Gentiles. And Paul was the best person for the job. He had the knowledge, the experience and the wisdom — and the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. Paul had “the right stuff,” but not the right connections. Actually, Paul had no connections, and no friends among the Jewish followers of Christ. What Paul did  have was an extremely bad reputation. Seems that before believing in Christ, the Apostle Formerly Known as Saul had a track record of persecuting his Jewish brethren, and he’d been responsible for the deaths of many of them. Paul had changed, but in the eyes of Jewish believers, he was an unknown quantity, a liability, perhaps even a risk

Barnabas: Famous for Helping!

Despite his passion and his qualifications, Paul wasn’t going anywhere as far as the Jewish leadership were concerned.  “When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer!” (Acts 9:26 NLT) That’s when Barnabas, the quintessential facilitator and all-around nice guy, stepped forward. “Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.” (Acts 9:26-27 NLT) Not only did Barnabas vouch for Paul, but he also joined the apostle on his mission. Barnabas helped Paul to achieve his objective and to fulfill his dream.

Sooner or later we all need a little help. Sooner or later we all need a Barnabas. We need for someone to put in a good word, help us with a project, or just be a good friend. No matter how self sufficient we are, we can accomplish even more with a little help from our friends. Okay, so where do we find a Barnabas in a society filled with people who only look out for themselves? For that matter, why aren’t there more Barnabas people in the world? Well, if we want the world to be filled with Barnabas people, we all need to start being Barnabas people. In other words, if we
want to make our world a better place, we can start by being better.

Be someone’s Barnabas. Your good deeds will eventually find their way back to you. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV) “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NLT)

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Rejection Giant! (Encouragement for Creators)

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If you’ve faced rejection as a creator, then you’re part of a special club with a membership list that staggers the imagination, because every successful artist, writer, musician — and absolutely anyone else who’s ever tried to get somewhere in this life — has faced his or her share of rejection.

Here’s the story of how one man with a big vision overcame rejection and some incredible obstacles to create something that’s been  enjoyed by millions.

David Puttnam had been a producer in the film industry for not quite a decade, working mostly on documentaries or smaller movie productions. Sometime around 1980 he came across a true story that captured his imagination. The British producer thought it would make a good movie, but it would be one of those quiet little films: about the human spirit, about dreams, about overcoming prejudice and physical adversity.

Puttnam felt he could produce his little movie for under $6 million, and he started looking for a studio to back the film. Here he encountered the first of many obstacles he would need to overcome to get the project off the ground: All the major UK studios turned the project down! Puttnam says he reached a point where he was “thinking of pulling the plug. That, or remortgage the house.” Then, in 1981, the Egyptian shipping magnate Al Fayed agreed to put up half the money. Fayed joked to Putnam, “You’ve been fairly around the track before you get to Egyptian shipping lines.”

David Puttnam

Puttnam was on his way, or so he thought. All he needed now was an American studio to bankroll the rest of the film project. So the producer went out and hired Hugh Hudson to direct his movie. Hudson had never before directed a feature film, but he had been an ad man and had done a few documentaries; and he was excited about the new opportunity. Sound promising? Hang on. Hudson started his new job by casting a handful of virtually unknown actors for all the lead roles.

Meanwhile, Puttnam had been combing the U.S. for weeks, searching for a studio to back the rest of the film. Another stretch of hard road: “The American studios rejected it,” Hudson once stated. “Because the two main characters barely meet. There is no shoot-out at the end.” Puttnam added, “I remember sitting … in a hotel room almost weeping. It seemed impossible to get anybody to understand why this was a film worth investing in.” Finally, Twentieth-Century Fox stepped in with the rest of the money.

First-time feature film director Hudson then shot the movie in 10 weeks, and he managed to do it for only $5.5 million. Happy ending? Not yet. The producer Puttnam now faced an uphill slog to find a studio willing to distribute the movie. He remembers how the production head of one U.S. studio slipped out of a screening to go to the bathroom and never came back. “We never saw him again.” But Puttnam didn’t give up.

He did, however, finally reach a point of desperation. Seemingly out of options, Puttnam offered the film as a made-for-TV movie. Ironically, the head of a major network “turned it down flat. He didn’t want to buy it at any price.” But sometimes a closed door is a good thing: “We were saved from going to TV because they didn’t think it was good enough.” That’s when Warner Bros. offered to distribute the film theatrically.

Putnam’s little movie, directed by a newbie, starring a cast of unknowns, featuring the story of two men who were all but forgotten, opened at a single venue in New York, the 700-seat Guild theater. Its first week, the film made $70,000. Compared to the box-office receipts of today’s big-budget movies, that may not sound like much, but remember, this was the take from a single theater! Soon critics were praising Puttnam’s tale of the 1924 Olympic Games, word of mouth from satisfied audiences spread like wildfire, and the movie went on to gross over $75 million worldwide. But the coolest thing, from an artist’s standpoint, is that Chariots of Fire was awarded 4 Oscars, including the Best Picture of the Year!

Facing a giant? Take courage!

So ask yourself, do you feel like an artistic “David” facing a Goliath of rejection? Pick up your creative slingshot and take aim, dear friends.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)

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