Careful What You Call Your Kids. They May Become Exactly That.

In God’s plan, names have meaning and they have life-shaping power
3 min read

Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Genesis 32:28

As the mom watched her sons try to load the newly purchased bicycle into the van, she was a little frustrated. They awkwardly pushed and pulled in an attempt to make it fit, stumbling all over themselves in the process. They were rookies at the art of loading.

After one more failed attempt and the bicycle came crashing to the ground, in exasperation, she blurted out, “Nice going, ___________________!”

You can use your imagination.

It wasn’t nice. In fact, it was mean and degrading. The mom was understandably at her wits end, but the words she spoke over her sons in that moment would lodge deeper into their souls than she could ever imagine. What she called them neither she nor they would be able to erase.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only time she had lobbed the label at them.

As those boys would struggle to answer the unspoken but ever-present questions swirling in their heads like, “Who am I?” and “Does my life matter?” they would not be able to help but think about what their mom called them that day in public.

If that’s what she says I am, maybe that’s what I am, just a _______________.”

Parenting can be hard. We all have bad days. Circumstances pile up and we lash out. It is all too easy to let something escape from our lips that we would have never said under better circumstances.

But here’s the tension. The names, labels, and adjectives that we call our children are prophetic. They are so powerful that they have the potential to shape what our children become. This is because what we call them is what they will believe about themselves. If we call them disparaging names, there’s a good chance they will resemble that more and more. On the other hand, if we bless them with names, nicknames, and adjectives that affirm their worth, their character, and their potential in Jesus, they will most likely live up to them.

In the Bible, names have meaning. Abraham, for example, means father of a multitude and Sarah means princess or queen. John means God is a gracious giver. Peter means a rock. And, of course, Jesus means Savior. In every case not only were these the names they were given, but the meaning behind the name is exactly what they became. Names shape futures.

…if we bless them with names, nicknames, and adjectives that affirm their worth, their character, and their potential in Jesus, they will most likely live up to them.

Whether you are a biological parent, step-parent, foster parent, adoptive parent, or grandparent, what you call your kids has future-shaping power. Today’s names will become tomorrow’s realities.

So, parents, let’s ask God to help us be thoughtful and intentional about the names we call our children. If we have failed in this area and cursed and belittled them, let’s admit to them that we were wrong and ask for their forgiveness. And from now on, let’s determine to call them by names they can live up to.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

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