Know their names

One of my coworkers just had a baby and it got my husband and I chatting about how much we loved naming our kids. The privilege of naming a child is pretty awesome, right?  It's one of the best things about being a new parent [along with the yummy meals]. Names are pretty special. Just call your kid by the wrong name and see how frustrated they usually get about it. Opps, did I just call you the dog's name? Yes I did. 

When we are strangers, when we are disconnected, it is even easier to forget a name or spell someone's name wrong. I am married to a substitute teacher, he knows how hard it is to keep names straight day in and day out when meeting new faces all of the time. I met a youth pastor named Shevi and for months I thought he was Chevy. Yup. You were named after a car? It is Michigan with Detroit and all. 

When there is a relationship, a friendship, or a blood bond through birth or adoption, we learn names. We get them right. When you've known someone for 2 days and forget to spell their name Kari instead of Kerri or confuse twins [is that Georgia or Maddy?] the solution is usually time. When you actually know someone-truly know them, you get the name right. You might even recognize their voice from the next room.

Recently at Mars, our teaching pastor, Kent had us speak each others names during communion and it was powerful. Kent taught on John 20:11-18 on Easter Sunday, pointing out that after his resurrection, Jesus calls Mary Magdalene by name. In a quiet moment. In a garden. With a whisper. She recognizes Jesus' voice and immediately cries out "Rabonni" which means "my rabbi." In a really tender moment, Mary learns first hand that Jesus is alive. You can hear/watch Kent's teaching here. 

Think about this: 
Think about a person in your life that you miss. Someone who has passed away or moved far away. Someone you would love to see again. What would it be like if all of the sudden you heard that person's familiar voice speak your name? How amazing [and maybe slightly scary!] would that be? 

Does your head turn when someone calls your name? Do you ever hear your name called and immediately know it's mom or dad or another familiar voice speaking to you? What do you think it was like for Mary Magdalene to hear Jesus call her name? She had just seen him die on the cross and was standing outside the tomb crying. Can you imagine what that would have been like? How would you have responded? 

Read how Mary responds [John 20:16-18]

When encountering students experiencing loss or when having important conversations with a teen, you can't pastor well without knowing their name. Including how to spell it!  I encourage you to SPEND TIME with students. Learn their names. If you can't remember the names of the kids in your youth group, or small group...chances are you need to SPEND MORE TIME with them. If you don't know their names, your don't really know them. You probably don't know their whole story [yet]. 

Would your small group or youth group recognize your voice from the next room? Would you recognize theirs?

Need help remembering names?

Check out this helpful article from Todd Finley at Edutopia. 


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