The Power of a Name Change By: Madeline Kalu
Have you ever considered that you are known by many names? Firstly, there are the names you are given at birth. Then there are the names that you are defined by at home, such as “wife”, “husband”, “mother”, “father” etc. At your workplace, your name is attached to your job description, and in your social circle, your name is synonymous with your role as “friend”.
And what about the plethora of names that society labels us with? These are antipathetic names that evoke gaslighting, body shaming, racial profiling, and more – pick your poison, for each and every one of us has been the victim of some form of societal name-calling. Unlike the children’s rhyme, they do hurt like sticks and stones, which is their intention, only the scars are psychological, not physical.
What can we surmise from all of the above? Names have power. Names can lift us up, encourage us, and give us confidence, or they can pull us down into a spiral of confusion, mental anguish, and self-loathing.
If we can agree on this, then we need to consider that maybe the most grievous form of name abuse we experience actually derives from ourselves. Think about the names you call yourself on a daily basis – for example, “fat”, “ugly”, “depressed”, or “loser”. If hearing such names from others is hurtful, how much more damaging is it for us to hear ourselves speak such names over our own person?
Proverbs 18:21 states that the “tongue has the power over life and death.” That means that you can speak life, confidence, and success over yourself, or you can talk yourself down into a pit of negativity and hopelessness. If you don’t like the names you are giving yourself, then you need to start addressing yourself by new names.
The Bible shows significant examples of the power of a name change. In Genesis 32:28, God changed Jacob’s name, which means “supplanter” “or “deceiver” to Israel, which means “one who has struggled with God and has overcome”. In Acts 9:1-19, Saul, the persecutor of Jews, had a divine encounter with God on the road to Damascus, who changed his name to Paul. Simon, who denied Jesus three times upon His arrest, was given the new name of Peter.
What effect did such name changes have on these men of God? Israel became the founding patriarch of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Paul was the first missionary to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles and wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. Peter, who in Greek means Petros (Πέτρος) or “the rock”, became a significant leader in the Early Church and preached a key sermon at Pentecost, where 3000 people came to a knowledge of Christ.
Friends, there is power in a name change. If we want to live the life we envision in 2023, we need to change the names we give ourselves.
Don’t know where to start?
How about we begin by calling ourselves the names that God has given us:
– Child of God (Galatians 4:6-7)
– Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Psalm 139:14)
– Saved and Sanctified (Ephesians 2:8)
– Overcomer (1 John 5:4)
– Holy and Beloved (Colossians 3:12)
and there are many more such names for us to be found in the Bible.
Start changing how you name yourself, and watch how the power that God unleashes into your life will manifest your words into the breakthrough you have been waiting for.