the name game

>> July 7, 2010

Top Baby Names of the Year, Celebrity Baby Names, etc. These, and the like, are threads I see frequently on Yahoo news (OK, I know it is “McNews”). How many of you have agonizingly deliberated for 9 months over the name choice of your children? For my husband and me, we never argued over it, but we could certainly get frustrated with each other. Choosing a name for your child is an important task—one you and your child will have to live with for the rest of their lives. For us, we chose family names mixed with names we just both liked. I still love the names we ended up with, and I thank God for leading us through that process.

Selecting a name for your child is serious business. Perhaps that is why this tip I am about to share with you is so important. I have found in ministry that if you remember the name of someone’s child, you have just exhibited your care not only for that child, but also for their parents. It is a simple task (sometimes easier said than done) that can mean the world to parents. When you are greeting a family at church, make sure to get down on the level of the child, and greet them using their name. The child LOVES to be greeted in such a fashion, and the parents will know that you care.

Now, with that said, it is also good to learn the name of the parents. Since my children are young, I often know people by who their child is. “Oh, you’re Caitlin’s mom.” Or, “Oh yes, Justin is your son.” Most parents are okay with this. But if you go the extra step and learn their names too, you will make a powerful impact.

I am blessed to be able to usually remember most names fairly easily, but my husband is not. So he is always asking me before we get to church what someone’s name is. (Isn’t is great how God puts us together with our complement!). But I am having to work harder lately. Perhaps it is because I am getting older, or because our current church is very culturally diverse, so I don’t have the “anchors” to link a name to.

So what if you are like my husband and can’t remember a name to save your life? Here’s what I do, and what I recommend for him to do. When I meet someone, I ask them to repeat their name to me, and perhaps even spell it. I look them in the face, and I repeat their name. In my mind, I see the name spelled out. I also try to make a connection to the name (the “anchor”), such as a former friend, a place, a Bible or literary character, etc. These tricks help me to usually be able to recall the name later on. And these tricks have helped me to touch lives in a very simple, yet powerful way.

A name is important to a person. It is who we are. So, I challenge you today to start learning the names of those in your church, especially the children. Try to learn a name or two a week, and see if it makes any difference in your ministry.

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Penny July 8, 2010 at 12:27 PM  

I love this part about getting down on the kid's level! I'm going to start doing this this next Sunday! Thanks for this great reminder!

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