Why does something jump inside of us when we’re called by name? We feel special. We feel recognized. We feel known.
“Nate, I saw you at your game yesterday.” “Hey Zac, come over here, I want to talk with you.” “Mary, it’s going to be OK.” These are things any Young Life leader might say on a given day. We call kids by name. It might seem like a simple discipline, but the return on this intentional exercise is often eternal. It was for Jesus, and as always, He’s our model. Let’s just slightly change the context and the names. …
“‘How do you know me?’ Nathaniel asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you’” (John 1:48).
Nathaniel was skeptical, but Jesus gave him evidence he’d seen him before. That’s exactly how it might start as a Young Life leader. You may let a kid know you’ve “seen them” at school or their game; and a skeptical heart might begin to open up.
“ … Zacchaeus, come down from there, I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).
Zacchaeus, apparently hiding so he wouldn’t be seen, was recognized as Jesus chose to call him by name. This began a beautiful relationship where Zacchaeus’ life was transformed. That’s exactly how it might start as a Young Life leader. Calling kids by name can begin a relationship. Maybe even one that shares meals, shares life and leads to transformation.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’” (John 20:16).
One powerful word was shared, and it was her name. Mary instantly knew that familiar voice, and she called out with joy to the One who was her leader. That’s exactly how it might happen as a Young Life leader. You may get the privilege of lovingly speaking the name of your anxious young friend, and your familiar voice may guide them toward a resurrection moment.
We call kids by name because Jesus taught us the value of doing so. We know it’s life-changing. In fact, if you look at our written methods of how we live out our ministry, the first three state that we:
1 Pray for young people.
2 Go where kids are and build personal relationships with them.
3 Earn the right to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
None of these happen without knowing a name. It allows us to pray, to go, to build and to share. Don’t ever be the one who says, “I’m just not good with names.” Believe in the One who models holy name-calling, and be ready to join the adventure He brings you on as a Young Life leader.
Blessings to you, ________ (insert YOUR name!).