What’s In A Name?

Baby FaceWhile preparing for the arrivals of our two children, my wife and I realized that one of the single most important responsibilities we had as parents was to give our kids a name. There were so many options! With all the books and the internet websites dedicated to the name game it would have been easy to get overwhelmed in the overload of information and get caught up in the competition with other parents for the most “original” name this planet has ever seen. But we arrived at the conclusion pretty early on that there was no way we were going to name our children something just because it sounded good or because no one else had picked it. No, we knew that names should have meaning and purpose. So, what’s in a name? Well, it turns out that names are one of the most important aspects of vision and dream fulfillment in a person’s life.

Names are important because they set a banner over the heads of our children announcing to the world who they are and what they are to become. Names are like one or two word visions that follow us around for the duration of our lives. 

Names are important because they set a banner over the heads of our children announcing to the world who they are and what they are to become. Names are like one or two word visions that follow us around for the duration of our lives.

In ancient times, names were much more important than they have become now. Words meant more then. Parents painstakingly went to a lot of trouble to make sure the name of their child fit the description of what they wanted or saw for their lives. This is extremely important, because labeling anyone or anything sets the tone for what the world can expect from that person or thing. Names should always be in alignment with purpose.

For instance, my name is Jeremy. Jeremy is a derivative of the name Jeremiah which means appointed by God in Hebrew. So, every time I hear my name I am reminded that I have been appointed by God to do great things in this world. I don’t thank my parents enough for that name!

Sadly, as a public school substitute teacher, I had the displeasure of meeting many children whose names broadcast to them a gloomy vision for their lives. I once met a girl named Escalade (pronounced: es – ka – la – day). Now, I’m looking at her name on the role call sheet and thinking, “Does she know she’s named after a luxury SUV?” Well, after some observation, it was apparent that what she did know was that money was her answer for everything. And if she could just get more money, then everything would fall into place for her. Since she wasn’t willing to put the time into making better grades, she would have to settle for doing anything it took on the streets to amass the wealth needed to live the life of luxury that her mother and father decided was to be her life’s direction. Her parents charted a course of materialism for her life that will not be easily undone, especially with the support of the hip-hop and MTV culture telling her she’s headed in the right direction.

Do you see the importance of a name? God took names so seriously in regards to setting the tone of vision for the life of an individual that He changed a few. Remember Abraham? Well, his name was originally Abram which meant “loving father”. Nice name, don’t you think? Well, what God had in-store for him was so much greater than what that name could encompass that after He made a covenant with Abram over the legacy of his descendants He changed His name to Abraham. Abraham means “father of many nations”. That “ha” sound provided a clarity of vision that brought about the nation of Israel and, later, Jesus Himself through whom the world was reconciled. Or what about Peter? Peter wasn’t yet Peter when he met Jesus. His name was Simon. After they had spent some time together, Jesus proclaimed his name would no longer be Simon but Peter. What was Jesus doing? He was casting a vision over this man’s life. While Simon defined him as the son of Jonah, Peter would define him as the rock. From that day forward, every time someone called out the name of Peter it served as a constant reminder to him of the fact that Jesus saw in him great potential to become a foundational stone for something very important but still in the future. He may not have changed much more than one word, but He changed the man’s destiny.

One of the most interesting things I’ve found in my research and observation about the importance of names is the power of the declaration of destiny that the name represents to fulfill itself. I’ve met people who have no idea what their name means initially, but once they find the meaning they also find that they are living out that destiny. For example, I once had a client named Jeffrey who had no idea that his name meant gift of peace. And you know what? He is exactly that. He is one of the calmest and most peaceful men I have ever met. On the other hand, I’m was formerly in a mentor relationship with a boy named Kyle whose name means “a narrow land”. Since his name means virtually nothing, it’s not surprising that one of his biggest struggles is the quest for purpose.

In Proverbs 29:18 King Solomon said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” And that is what’s in a name – vision. Vision is the capacity to see beyond one’s natural sight. It is the ability to imagine our children as royalty-in-training and create in them a mental picture of their power to lead in this life. Parents declare loudly, whether good or bad, what destiny their children are going to fulfill. Names are not something to be taken lightly but, instead, are possibly the most important components of destiny and dream fulfillment in our lives. So why is it that these one or two word monikers have so much weight?

It is of paramount importance that we choose our children’s names wisely and be conscious of the effect of our words.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” and that certainly holds true in the case of names. Think about it. We hear our names everyday, multiple times a day. If what’s in that name contains a positive declaration of vision, then it’s likely that person will begin to act on that declaration. Conversely, if that name contains confusion or dissension, then it’s likely that person will act accordingly. It is of paramount importance that we choose our children’s names wisely and be conscious of the effect of our words. We must develop in them a vision of themselves as leaders with the character and confidence to accomplish anything they set their mind to if we want to see this next generation of dreamers fulfill their life’s potential.

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