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.
If you would like to receive my daily posts, you can subscribe to waylonbailey.com at the top of the page. Simply type in your email address, and click subscribe. It’s free and easy. When you receive a return email, confirm your desire to subscribe by clicking on the link.
Waylonbailey.com is my ministry across the Internet. I would appreciate your subscribing and also forwarding this and other posts to your friends. Click on the “Print” button to email to someone or to print. Thank you!