Names matter. From the Bible we know that a lot of names have special meanings or prophetic consequences. That may not be the case for the students in our youth group (though I certainly believe in the power of either positive or negative nick names!), but their names matter nonetheless. It does something to you when people know your name.
When we lived in the US a while back, we attended a community church for the first time. When we walked in, we were immediately spotted by one of the ushers, a wonderful vibrant woman named Lucy. She talked to us for a bit, was delighted that we were from Europe and explained a little bit about the church. And she asked for our names.
The second time we were there, Lucy saw us come in. From across the room she greeted us with an enthusiastic “Hi Roger, hi Rachel, so glad to see you!” She had remembered our names. It was a small thing, but it meant a lot to us and it was one of the things that made us come back and ultimately commit to that church.
Names matter. When we call someone by their name, it communicates a lot of things. It says I know who you are. It says you are important enough to me to remember your name. It says I see you, I know you are here. It says I remember you, you’ve been here before and I noticed.
As youth leaders we should do everything we can to remember the names of our students. For some of us, that will be more of a challenge than for others, I know that. I can’t complain: I’ve got a really good, almost photographic memory and I’m good with names. But I have to make an effort to remember new names as well. I know there are people who simply state they’re really bad with names and use that as a reason for not even trying anymore. That’s just lazy. You may not have a natural knack for remembering names, but you can sure try , right?