In the Name

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dale Carnegie asserts, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” One of the simplest ways to make people feel appreciated is by remembering names. Our name sets us apart. It makes us unique. When I was a classroom teacher, I used to play the “name game” on the first day of school. I introduced myself to a student who introduced me to another student. Each student in turn introduced himself and all the previously named students. By the end of the game, I had heard each student’s name multiple times and was able to recite everyone’s name. This simple game was the first step in developing a relationship with my students.

Remembering and honoring the names of his friends and associates was one of the keys to Andrew Carnegie’s success as a leader. He could recall many of his factor workers by name and while he was personally in charge of the steel company, there were no workman strikes. FDR took time to remember and recall the names of his staff, even the mechanics for his car.

Napoleon the Third, Emperor of France, boasted that he could recall then name of every person he met. If he didn’t hear the name distinctly, he could ask the person to repeat it. He would often ask them to spell it. During the conversation he repeated the name several times and tried to associate the name with the person’s features, expressions, and general appearance. When he was alone, he wrote down the name, concentrated on it, and then tore the paper.

Jesus knew the importance of recognizing people by their names. In John 10:3 Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd who calls his own sheep by name. What Jesus was proclaiming was that he as our Shepherd knows us intimately. When Mary Magdalene stood sorrowfully outside the tomb after Jesus’ death, Jesus called her my name. Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).” John 20:16. Her mourning was turned to dancing at the sound of her name. Because of his job as a tax collector, the local Jewish community would have hated Zacchaeus and yet Jesus did two things that welcomed him into the family of God: he called him by name and dined with him. Through Jesus’ example we see the importance of knowing names in order to develop relationships.

Let’s also remember that the name of Jesus is actually the sweetest name of all. His name is above every name. Thanks be to God!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, Philippians 2:9 & 10


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