What’s In A Name?

A name conveys power, good or bad. My daughters came home from their first year at camp complaining, “Everyone knows you. The dean asked my name and then said, ‘Oh, you’re John Salmon’s daughter.'” Fortunately, my daughters take pride in our name; they are proud to carry our family name. On the other hand, I worked with a young man whose father left him and his mother when he was an infant. Last he heard, his father was in another state engaging in “less than legal activity.” He was angry with his father. He was embarrassed to carry his father’s name. We spent a great deal of time talking about how he could “redeem the name” for his future family and children. In the meantime, when teachers said, “Oh you’re so-and-so’s son,” he knew he had to work to change their impression of him. He had to fight against a name that carried negative connotations and brought him shame and embarrassment.
A wise man once said that “A good name is better than fine perfume…” and “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” As parents, we can give our children a great gift when we give them an honorable name. When our name elicits a reputation of politeness, generosity, honor, and grace, people assign the same reputation to our children and treat them accordingly. We give our children a priceless treasure when we build a “good name” in our community. Unfortunately, we have all witnessed too many parents putting the burden of a disreputable name onto their children. Consider these scenes:
Scene 1: An elementary school age soccer game. The coaches patiently instruct their players in the basics while they play. Most of the parents are enjoying the game, watching their child and talking with one another. One parent, however, paces up and down the field, yelling at his child. “Kick the ball.” “What are you doing? Shoot the goal.” “You can do better than that.” “Quit being lazy, run!” In a similar scene, a parent told me about the girl’s elementary school age basketball game that local police had to attend in order to limit the parents’ disorderly conduct.
Scene 2: A school meeting–parents and school staff attending. The whole group discusses various items of business–the band trip, the football games, the music played, financial issues. Suddenly, one parent becomes upset. He stands to complain. His voice gets louder as he begins calling people names. Other parents add in with gossip about “so-and-so’s” actions.
Scene 3: Parents are dropping their children off for a trip with the local youth group. One parent pulls up in front of the drop off area and stops his large car in the middle of the road, blocking all traffic. His child jumps out of the vehicle to join the other children. The truck remains in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, as the driver talks to the parents standing in the driveway and off the road. Cars begin to back up because they can’t get around the truck in the middle of the road. The driver looks at the cars waiting to get by, but continues his conversation.
Three different scenes, but the parents in each one contributed to a disreputable name that their children will have to endure. If our behavior speaks of arrogance, rudeness, and inconsideration, people will assume our children will act the same. After all, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
So, how can we give the gift of a good name to our children? Here are a few “to do’s” to help build a reputation your family can hang their hat on:
·         Become involved in the community.
·         Show interest in other people. Talk about their interests and activities, not just your own.
·         Consider the people around you. Think about their needs and desires as well as yours. Let people know that they are important to you.
·         Act politely. Hold the door for other people entering a building. Say thank you at the checkout counter. Let the other car into the line of traffic. 
·         Allow people to do their jobs. When you watch your family in a sporting event, encourage the team rather than disparage a player.
·         Keep your promises. Live a life of integrity. Let it be known that when you say you will do something, you do it.
·         Speak with kindness. Don’t trash talk. Don’t gossip. As my parents always told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything!”
Just a short “to do” list to build a good reputation. Nothing difficult to carry out—just the daily acts of an honest family man. But, the dividends for you and your family are outstanding—a reputable name more valuable than silver or gold…a sweetly smelling name that attracts respect…a name worth millions.

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