By Kathy Pollard
My husband, Neal, and I have this strange habit of turning people’s names into parts of speech and using them in our conversations with each other. For instance, the other day we were discussing a couple of friends who are facing a stressful situation. I said, “We need to Russell them.” Russell is one of our elders at church and also one of the greatest encouragers we know. We’ve only known him for a couple of years but have received countless texts from him filled with positive vibes. He will send reminders about God’s power and goodness, or thoughtful compliments, or simply tell us he loves us. Neal and I want to follow his example. We appreciate how Russell makes us feel and want to do the same thing for our friends.
Over 20 years ago we stayed in the home of Bill and JoAnn Sharbine in Texas. Even though our time with them was brief, they left a huge impression on us. They treated each other so sweetly. They held hands, smiled at each other, laughed together, and were especially patient with each other. Ever since then, any time Neal or I do something particularly thoughtful or loving to each other, we say, “Aw, I feel so Sharbined!” Bill and JoAnn have no idea that their name has been part of our vocabulary all these years.
An old friend of ours named Dave had an endearing habit. Whenever someone would compliment him (usually about his song leading in worship), he would say, “Huh?,” because he wanted you to repeat the compliment. We always laughed and teased him about it. To this day, whenever I say something nice to Neal and he (acts like he) doesn’t hear me, I say, “Okay, Dave…”
“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1).
I imagine this verse is a warning to guard your character and reputation. It’s more important to have honor and integrity than to compromise those things to gain a dollar. But it always makes me think of people I know who have a good name. When I hear their name, I automatically associate it with something good.
I can’t help but wonder…what do people associate my name with? If someone were to use it as part of their vocabulary, how would it be used? Regardless of how I want people to think of me, my overall demeanor will determine that. Do I have a complaining spirit? Am I overly critical of others? Am I self-absorbed, generally negative, or quick to play the role of victim? If so, then I can just imagine this conversation taking place somewhere….
Wife: <griping about every little thing>
Husband: “Why are you so Kathy today?”
Ugh, I don’t want people to associate my name with anything like that. But sometimes the toughest part is being aware of our own tendencies. I remember being challenged one time to go a whole week without criticizing or correcting my husband. I thought it’d be pretty easy but I blew it the first day. I didn’t want to admit that I’d become overly critical and I sure didn’t want to see myself that way. But “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).
What is your heart full of?
To get some real insight, we can pay special attention to our words this week. How often do we complain, nag our spouses, or point out the flaws and disappointments of others? How often does our speech build up others (Eph. 4:29-32) or speak with gentleness, humility, patience, and compassion (Col. 3:12-14)? Perhaps we can go so far as to mentally catalog our words (neutral, negative, positive) to get a true idea of our demeanor.
What comes to mind when people hear your name?