Hello, My Name is ___________.

Name tagWhen I was about 18 years old, I was helping one of my uncles roof a house.  The house was owned by a man that I had known since I was a small boy.  My dad worked with him many years ago.  When he saw me, he immediately knew who I was.  He walked right up to me to say hi and ask how I was doing.  The second sentence out of his mouth surprised me though.  He said “Your daddy was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met, but I couldn’t believe a word that came out of his mouth”.  Wow! I just stood there.  How do you react to that?

Another time not too many years later, a step dad of one of my friends, a man who had known my family for many years, said “I’ve never met a Mills who’s ever had anything”. Now, I’m pretty sure he’s never met all of the Mills family.  There are a bunch of us.  But the real point of his comment was that he thought I wasn’t going to amount to much because in his mind, the Mills family doesn’t amount to much.  This kind of prejudice says way more about him than it does me, but the point was clear.  To these two people, my name had not been well represented.

“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.  Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”  Charles Spurgeon.

You may be facing some of these same prejudices in your own life.  Maybe some people don’t like your color, or you came from the wrong side of the tracks, maybe your family is poor, or maybe you really were what they say you were but you’ve changed and now you need a break.  You have a choice to make. Are you going to continue to become what they say you are, or will you find another way to define yourself?  For me these comments became the catalyst for change.  I made a decision to defy the odds.  I was now faced with the challenge of living down a negative perception and a reputation I did not create.

The invisible thing called a Good Name is made up of the breath of numbers that speak well of you
~ George Savile (also attributed to Lord Halifax)

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver or gold” – Proverbs 22:1.  If you’ve ever thought that you were powerless to change the image, perception and reputation tied to your name, I have good news for you! In this very powerful verse in the Bible, pay close attention to the one word, CHOSEN!  This means that not only can you choose to have a good name, which for some is excellent news, but that really ONLY you get to decide what kind of name you have!  You do not have to be shackled with the name or the reputation that was handed to you.  You alone decide who you are going to be.  This verse actually gives us a roadmap that will lead us out from under the negative prophecies of our past.

  • Choose a GOOD name.  Your name is your identity. It’s the culmination of all that you are, and it’s tied directly to your word.  You will not have a man who has an excellent spirit who is also a liar.  If you will have a good name, you will have to be a good man! Kenneth Copeland said it this way in his series “The Image of God in You” when he said “A man and his word are inseparable”.  You can’t have a bad man who’s word will be consistently good or a good man who’s word is bad.  When I say good I mean honest, trustworthy and reliable.
  • Choose it over money.  A good name will serve you longer and in better ways than money can.  The honor that comes from choosing a good name over great riches answers a deeper need in all of us than just having money.  A good reputation will win when money can’t. People of honor will not be moved by your money but they will by your reputation and your good name. Just last night an associate of mine was telling a story about some college students from New York who bought an old sofa for $20 at the Salvation Army thrift store and started finding envelopes full of money in different parts of the couch. According to the article, they immediately started asking “What kind of boat are we going to buy?” or “Where are we going to go?” but then they found a deposit slip with a woman’s name on it.  They almost immediately reached a consensus and decided to track the woman down and return the money.  “It’s her money” they said in an interview.  It turned out that she was a 91 year old woman who didn’t trust banks and had hidden her money in this couch.  While she had an extended hospital stay for a broken hip, her family had donated the sofa to the Salvation Army.  She gave the honest young ladies $1,000 for returning the money.  What they gained by their honesty will go far beyond what the money would have bought.  It also demonstrated that they care about people.
  • Love and pursue favor rather than money.  Rev. Tad Gregurich is the Dean of Rhema Bible Training College in Broke Arrow, Oklahoma, and an associate pastor at Rhema Bible Church.  In a recent message he stated “You can do business on nothing but the name of some people.  Their name is so honored and respected that the name alone is trusted in business.  You don’t even need a hand shake”.  Don’t you just long to have that level of favor?  I strive for it everyday.  I want people to be able to have such a level of trust in my name that when someone comes along and starts talking bad about me, everyone that hears it immediately doesn’t believe it.

Ecclesiastes 7:1a says “A good name is better than precious ointment…” Imagine, even the mention of your name could bring healing, reduce pain & reduce discomfort in the person who hears it.  Does the very mention of your name cause heaviness to lighten in others?  Will others smile and be comforted when your name is brought into the conversation? They can be.

“I’d love to work with an Asian guy named Wu Hu, because just saying his name would get me all pumped up and excited.”
Jarod Kintz, There are Two Typos of People in This World: Those Who Can Edit and Those Who Can’t. 

Rev.  Bob Yandian from Grace Church in Tulsa, Ok. mentioned in his series “One Flesh” that whenever you read the words “My Son” in the book of Proverbs, the message that is really being conveyed is “Builder of the family name”.  Adapt this for yourself.  Realize that what you say and do really does matter.  Rise above the labels that people have tried to chain you with and render their words untrue.  You can do it!

What prejudices have you faced and how did you live them down?  I would love to hear your comments.

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