Leading By Naming

small__2274302968There are two aspects to naming that have the potential to powerfully shape the people around you.

One is simply knowing the names of those in your circle of influence. The other is in how you name those around you through your words that either bless or curse. As a leader your words matter. Your recognition of another carries great weight, far more than you probably consider to be true.

Do you know the names of those you lead?

Do you know the names of those who serve you every day in your position of authority?

Do you know the names of those who are a part of your every day routines?

Names are powerful. Our name is how we are known. Our name is the gateway to our identity.I don’t know of anyone who does not want to know and be known. But sometimes as leaders we forget the power of a name. We are busy people. We have things to do, places to be, worlds to conquer.

Do you realize that every day you are naming those around you?

Sometimes you name people out loud. You label them as weak, unchangeable, lazy, bad, worthless. Sometimes you label them in silence. What you don’t say is actually more impactful than what you do say. Silence can communicate that someone is invisible to you, lacking meaning and significance. Conversely, to tell someone that they are improving, a necessary part of the team, a person of great potential, a trusted colleague–can carry them for days, months or even years. We have great power as leaders to either bless or curse.

There is a curious phrase in the Bible tucked away in Genesis 5:1-2, “When God created man, he made them in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them . . . “

There is much to ponder in these few words.

First, is that every person on the planet is a created being and made in the image of God. Therefore they have dignity and worth given to them by God. While we may be a leader, we are not the creator. We must not do less than God does in extending dignity and worth to all around us, from the trusted follower to the casual acquaintance. While we cannot create in the way God does we do share the power of being able to bless and to name. Never forget that we do share in the creative nature of God by the type of leadership culture that we form for the level of influence we have been granted.

The idea of blessing is to kneel before another. There are implications here for servant leadership. The idea also carries the connotations of praising, saluting, or adoring another. In other words we take the posture of humility and think of specific ways we lift up another through words that honor them for who they are and what they do. That takes awareness, sensitivity and careful thought.

That is where naming comes in. We must know someone’s name to adequately acknowledge and bless them. We know their name and then we name them. We take the time to inquire, remember and use their given name. Do you know how much power this simple act carries? We can lift people up out of their day to day doldrums by simply calling them by name. Dignity and worth are communicated by speaking one’s name. And then we have the potential to bless them by naming them again. We can call them special, useful, significant, powerful, creative, beautiful, thoughtful, trustworthy, faithful—worthy.

A name represents our person at a deep and meaningful level. As leaders we have the privilege to lead people. We do so at a much higher level when we honor our Creator by way of blessing those around us through naming!

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  1. […] might enjoy reading this post by Cru staff, Gary Runn, Leading by Naming, who takes a biblical look at the importance of using names with people, mainly for leaders, but […]

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