April 16, 2018

Value Others by Speaking Their Name

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 16, 2018

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:15-18, ESV

Peter’s confession of Jesus’s identity: “The Christ, the Son of the living God” invited Jesus to affirm how His heavenly Father had revealed this significant truth to Peter’s open heart. Peter’s correct interpretation became Jesus’s teaching opportunity for building His church. Jesus valued Peter’s name to the extent of associating its meaning, “rock”, with the church, validating both Peter and the building of Christ’s church. Jesus validated Peter’s name and challenged Peter’s commitment to His church.

A Boss Who Called Me Brother

I once had a boss who for the duration of my five-year employment called me “brother”. In Christian culture this is an accepted manner to greet one another: brother for men and sister for women. But not to be a substitute for someone’s name. Yes we were brothers in Christ, but I needed to be known as Boyd. I agree, a strange southern name normally used as a last name so somewhat harder to remember, but the patronizing use of “brother” certainly bothered me with its overuse. My boss led from a position of seclusion so we seldom saw one another—maybe an occasional all staff meeting or annual retreat. With so many staff (200), and frequent turnover—name recognition required focused attention. Verbalizing a name validates a person’s unique creation in Christ.  

A Neighbor Who Called Me Wade

Briefly we lived in a rental house in our new town while waiting to find a more permanent home to purchase. The neighbor across the street called me Wade from day one. I must have reminded him of a Wade from his past or maybe one in his present. I cordially corrected him to no avail, so I eventually just responded to Wade. Not a bad name, just not my name. Because of the brevity of our stay—6 months and the lack of connection with the basics—my name—not surprisingly, we failed to forge a friendship. Pronouncing a name accurately and spelling it correctly communicates you matter, I care and let’s get to know one another.

A Monk Who Called Me Boyd

Refreshingly, I met a monk a few years back who looked into my eyes and called me Boyd. “Boyd, nice to meet you”. “Boyd come on back and let’s visit”. “Boyd, I’m a Michigan State Spartan football fan”. “Boyd, Boyd, Boyd”—a dozen times he genuinely and affectionately addressed me peering into my eyes, with a “yes” face that said yes I want to know you. You are a special child of God, created in His image for good works. You mean something to me because you mean so much to your heavenly Father. He closed our 40 minute time together with this prayer, “Heavenly Father, I pray for my brother Boyd, for You to glorify Yourself through his life and that he would bear much fruit, in Jesus’ name, amen.” Hearing your name in prayer may be the greatest form of validation and love. Remember another’s name and pray for them by name. I only spoke with this monk for 40 minutes, but he marked me with love… for life.

Here Are Some Ideas to Help Remember Names

  1. Don’t say I’m bad with names, it may be true for now, but it is self-defeating.
  2. When you meet a new friend say her name back to her and ask what she is excited about. ‘Pam, nice to meet you. Pam, what are you excited about these days?”
  3. The next time you see her and you are not sure of her name, be real and say, “It’s Pam, right?
  4. Associate a name with something memorable. I met Cecilia at work a couple of years ago. I said “Cecilia you remind me of a 70’s song, “Cecilia you’re breaking my heart”. She said, “No, my friends changed the words and sing to me, ‘Cecilia, you’re blessing my heart!’”
  5. When on a phone conversation for the first time with someone, write down her name as a reminder and capture any interesting facts about her family, work or life.
  6. When around service staff with name tags or names printed on their uniform, look them in the eyes and thank them for a job well done. Yes and give them a nice tip!
  7. With uniquely spelled names ask the person to pronounce his name, so you honor him with the correct pronunciation.

Names matter, because people matter—so look people in their eyes and say their name. In doing so you will say: you’re special, you’re important, I care about you, and I want to know you better.

“The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:27-28).



Heavenly Father, thank You for knowing my name and for expecting me to believe in Your name, in Jesus’ name, amen.


What is one way I can better learn a person's name so I can better show I care?

Related Reading

Proverbs 30:9; Philippians 4:3; 3 John 1:14

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Verbalizing and remembering a name validates a person’s unique creation in Christ. #remembernames #WisdomHunters

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  1. I work really hard at this. I tend to struggle with names, so I have a tool that I work through every morning to work on names so I’ll (hopefully) be able to call anyone I’ve met by name if I run into them that day. I have around 1200 people there, and typically can recite them all.

    Here’s more about the tool I use, for those interested in working on this skill: https://www.mickmel.com/things-worth-remembering/

  2. Liv Smith says:

    If we mere humans feel so strongly about our names and others getting it right, do we not think our Savior might just feel the same about His Holy name? This is why many years ago when I learned what His mother named Him, I began calling Him Yeshua. It’s not a difficult to say, or hard to remember name, and it’s accurate. I love it….Yeshua. The sweetest name I know!

  3. Gwynne says:

    Dear Liv,
    Thank you! What an awesome way to show your love for your Savior. I really like that idea and it’s a great reminder for all of us. Yeshua, the sweetest name.
    And Liv, I love the fact that the Hebrew meaning for Yeshua is “to rescue” “to deliver”. How fitting it that? He does rescue us and He is our great deliverer!
    If you don’t mind, I would like to “borrow your idea” and use His sweet name Yeshua sometimes. I thank you, Liv.
    We are grateful for you and l look forward to hearing from you again sometime.
    Believing and trusting,
    “Let them praise your great and awesome name. Your name is holy!
    Psalm 99:3

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