What's in a Name?

Before my girls were born, my husband and I spent hours pondering what name to give our unborn child. It's your first big responsibility as a parent -- choosing a name that your child will carry with them for the rest of their lives. You have to factor in all the nicknames a name could create as well as how well it goes with your last name. Do you want to choose a family name or go with something trendy? Will it bother you or your child if four other kids in her class have the same name? With our oldest, we came to an agreement pretty quickly on both a boy and a girl name. With our second child, though, we were at the hospital having her, and we still didn't have a boy name we could agree on. Good thing she was a girl.

Our names identify who we are. Our first names identify which person we are within a family. Our last names identify that family. I'll never forget being told when I walked out the door one day as a teenager "Remember who you are and whose you are." My parents wanted me to remember that I was a Briley. Whatever I did reflected back on my family. They also wanted me to remember that I belonged to God. Whatever I did reflected on God. Those are big responsibilities to carry, but it's an idea that we want to instill in our children.

Proverbs 22:1 says "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." We want our children to recognize that having a good reputation -- one that glorifies God is more important than being popular or being part of the "in" crowd. When choices have to be made, we want them to recognize that choosing God's way and being known for that may not be the popular choice, but it is the one that will help them hold on to their "good name."

Use some pop culture to help your children understand this concept.

  • Choose a few people or characters with which your children are familiar. Try to choose people that are known for something, for example, Hannah Montana might be known for her singing or her TV show. You can choose sports stars, actors or actresses or even cartoon characters, whatever appeals to your child. Name the person or character and ask your child what they are known for. Ask them if they think being known for that particular thing is good or bad. Get them to explain their answer. Ask them if they would want to be known for that particular thing. Ask them if they think God would be happy if they were known for that. There may be no right or wrong answers, but it's a great way to get your kids talking about the types of things for which they want to be known.
  • Read Proverbs 22:1 and talk about what it means. Discuss with your kids how difficult it is to change your reputation once you are known for something. If you have a story of how your reputation for something caused problems in your life, share it with your kids. Be real and let them know that you aren't always perfect.

As you discuss this topic with your kids be sure to remind them that even though people are sometimes known for one certain thing that doesn't mean that they are that way all the time. People can change, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. God can effect the biggest changes in people, so though our reputations may precede us, we need to remember that God can change people's hearts and attitudes. It's not our place to judge others; we simply need to make sure our actions glorify God.