My Story For Remembering Names

Anyone who has known me since I first went to college knows that I do my best to know people and remember their names. Everyone is important and everyone needs to be known. I see remembering names as a way of showing God’s care–and mine–for people.

I remember exactly how this became important to me.

Shortly after I turned eighteen, (by the way in Louisiana you don’t “turn” eighteen, you “make” whatever age you are), I enrolled in Auburn University and settled into my dorm with my best friend as my roommate. We immediately began to meet other new and returning students.

I distinctly remember one of those first times when I met other guys my age. About eight guys were standing in a circle. None of us knew more than one other guy in the circle. We did something that I had never done before. We went around the circle shaking hands and introducing ourselves.

The reason I had never done this before was because I grew up in Brantley, Alabama, a town of 1,000 people. I knew everybody my age. I had no reason to introduce myself. I shook hands with adults but never with guys my age except to greet a fellow competitor after a ball game. But after a ballgame, no one introduced themselves.

On this particular day as we shook hands and introduced ourselves, something explosive struck me. No more than five minutes after we had introduced ourselves I knew only my best friend’s name. I did not know any other name!

I immediately knew why. I had not listened to their names. Their names were not important enough to me to listen to, think about, repeat to myself, and try to learn. I felt awful and vowed then to listen and to get to know people.

Through the years, I have been amazed at how effective listening is to learning names. It is the first and most important step. Of course, I am still working on this. It’s a daily renewal, and I don’t always get it right. But I find that when I listen and concentrate on the name and the person, it makes all the difference.

We need to learn people, not just their names. Each one is created in the image of God. We matter to Him. When we learn people, we help them know that they matter too.

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8 Responses

  1. Thank you Dr. Bailey for reminding us the importance of Names. Reminding ourself, how important our world is to us (in the eyes of another who has the same thought about their world to them), is an application of the Golden Rule in a wonderful context.

    Lord, help me do a better job of recognizing Your creation.


  2. Dr. Baily, when Don and I came to your church, you always knew our name, at one point I wondered if someone was telling you names thru your earpeace. You knew everyone by first names. Then I realized it was really you remembering names but until I read this blog I didn’t know that it was so important to you that you worked at it. God has given you such a talent for people interaction that it makes anyone who meets you feel important

  3. I was always so impressed how you knew everyone’s name. I still remember when we joined FBC Covington and you introduced us to the congregation and told them where we were from and you didn’t have a card in your hand reading the info! That made me feel like we belonged to FBC and we were special!

  4. You certainly have a gift to remember names. I always work on that, but fail many times. What an important way to make people feel loved and wanted and welcomed! God bless you; you are the best!

  5. I too have always been impresses by the way that you remember not only people’s names, but other facts about them as well. I remember the first time I met you (in the fellowship hall on a wednesday night), you approached me and knew me and my family and things about me that I am still not sure how you knew. It absolutely does make people feel welcome and that they are valued and appreciated. Thank you Dr. Bailey!

  6. Dear Waymon — I agree that remembering names is an important – and scary – part of new relationships. You have a gift for recognizing people and remembering their names, not an easy task considering the hundreds of folks you see every week. Thanks for letting us know you care. Look forward to seeing you next time we’re in Louisiana. Take care – WAYLON.

    1. Thanks to all of you. My reputation is better than the reality, but I appreciate your kindness anyway.
      I do intend to give some “secrets” in the next few weeks.

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