A few minutes ago, I had one of those significant “Mom win” moments. I emerged from my son David’s room, where I had just caught a glimpse of a hand-written note he pinned to his wall this evening. It read: “April 17, 2018. Today was the first time in my life that Ester called me PRINCE!!! I feel blessed 😊” Ester is his older sister. A laugh of joy came up from inside me as I read those words. Ester had, indeed, just called him a prince a short while earlier. What an impact she had made!
David was so pleased, he had actually asked me to go see what he put on his wall. Having done so, I returned to him and expressed my shared happiness with him. And then (of course), I turned it into a teachable moment (‘cuz that’s what we moms do!). I remarked, “So much blessing from just one word! See the power there? Just like that, use your power too, Buddy!”
The power I was referring to is one you very well may be familiar with. It’s that of the tongue, which we learn about in Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (NKJV). Even more specifically though, Ester had used the Power of Naming.
God gave us this power from the very beginning. He even allowed Adam to partner with Him in His breathtaking work of bringing forth Planet Earth, by choosing names for each animal He had just created: “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name” (Gen. 2:19, NKJV).
I put bold emphasis on that last phrase because it reveals a momentous truth. Can you imagine the staggering impact of the power God had just handed to Adam? Whatever Adam decided on and spoke over the creature, that label was staying, forever.
This is not just a cute Bible story. Nor was God just trying to come up with something for Adam to do to occupy his time. Everything God does is filled with purpose. I believe that this delegated activity was a key component to the dominion mandate that He entrusted to Adam and Eve within the context of that same story: “…Fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28, NKJV).
See the correlation between naming all of God’s creatures, and having dominion over them? To paraphrase, it was like God said, “I want you to rule over My creation. A central facet of the rulership I am giving you is the Power of Naming. Whatever you say it is, that it will be. In this way, take dominion. In this way, you will reflect My image. When I speak, what I say comes into being. When you speak, your words will thus assert the authority of your dominion over everything I am putting under your leadership.”
Today, Ester used the Power of Naming with her brother. She called him a prince, and with that single word, she made him feel like one. She named him. She told him who he is. In doing so, she helped draw him more deeply into the fullness of who God created him to be. She created an atmosphere so full of life and affirmation that he couldn’t contain himself, and had to express in writing what she had said.
You and I are called to use this Power every day. Do you remember how much it made your day the last time someone took a moment to give you a genuine compliment or an encouraging word? If Jesus healed people with just one word… how much life is packed into just a single verbal conveyance of His kindness?
On the other hand, if we call someone a jerk… uh oh! In that moment, we are partnering with the enemy to keep that individual captive, invoking the Power of Naming the wrong way over his or her life. What if, instead, in our moment of frustration, we bite our tongue, take a deep breath, and instead blurt out, “You, you, you, you person becoming a gentleman, in Jesus’ name, you!!!”?
Or how about this — what if, in imitation of Jesus, we call all the impulsive, volatile Simons in our lives “Rock”… and all the demoralized, fearful Gideons, “Mighty One of Valor?” What if, rather than choosing labels for people that reinforce their imprisonment to harmful behavior patterns, we purposefully bestow on them life-imparting names?
Such power is in that little instrument hanging out between our teeth! My friend, let’s remember just how much dominion is at our disposal through our words, and employ it for His Kingdom, today…
As I said to David this evening, “Use your Power!”
As you read this, what comes to mind? Is there someone in your life who could benefit from the Power of Naming?