top of page
  • Writer's pictureKandi Swift

What's In a Name?

A name isn't just a name! Everyone has one, and everyone has a definition that is attached to it. What is yours? Is it something you're proud of, or possibly something you'd like to change?

I remember the early days of pregnancy with both of my children and the excitement, and possibly even the bit of stress, I experienced while trying to pick out the perfect name.  Was it going to be a boy or a girl?  Will their cute little name sound childish as they become adults, or will their name sound too adult as a baby?  Should I name them after a relative?  Would other relatives be offended if I didn’t choose them? Should I go for the traditional spelling or come up with something unique?  So many questions!

I was very intentional in choosing my children's names.  I wanted names with strong, positive meanings; names that represented good character.  It was my belief that every time I called or said their name it would be a reinforcement and declaration of who they were or would become.  Words are so powerful, and this word would be used more than any other when it came to my child, so it had to be just right.  I recall, as I poured through baby name books, sometimes coming across one I was fond of. But then I would remember someone I knew, or knew of, with that name and suddenly it wasn’t so appealing.  Those names came with the definition or characterization of someone who carried them.

When we hear names such as Martin Luther King, Billy Graham or even Charles Manson, we find ourselves thinking about traits or elements that made up that person.  We remember a famous civil rights activist that helped change the face of society, a world-renowned evangelist responsible for leading hundreds to salvation, and a convicted cult leader guilty of conspiracy and murder.  Everything we know about them is wrapped up in their name; the power of all of their accomplishments (good or bad), qualities, successes and failures.  Given that concept, when we think about it, a name becomes the definition of who someone is and encompasses everything they are.  Take away the name, and that characterization becomes empty and void.  In the same sense, if we wipe out the description or definition of the person, then their name becomes just a meaningless name.  The two are synonymous – one can’t exist without the other.  However, what defines them is based on what we ourselves have personal experience with or know that person to be, even if it is by hearsay.  To someone on the inner circle of any of these three mentioned, their name might mean something different. To Billy Graham’s wife, his name might have meant wonderful father, provider and friend.

The incredible thing is that we have the ability to redefine our name. If we are known for qualities or actions we may not be proud of, we are capable of changing and, therefore, transforming the very definition of our ‘name’. Even without trying, through life experiences, we are ever-changing, and so becomes our definition. There was a time during my son’s elementary school years that he received a ‘pink slip’ every single day regarding his behavior in class. He was known, or defined, as the child who played around, never took anything seriously and always got in trouble. However, as he became an adult, he developed and changed into a well-respected and responsible employee, earning awards and achievements beyond his years. He redefined his ‘name’ and is known as a leader with focus and one that everyone wants on their team.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

As much as we are capable of changing the definition of our name though, there is One whose never changes and, in fact, cannot change. God’s attributes and the definition of who He is remains the same from the beginning of time to the end of eternity. He always has been and always will be infinitely good, never-changing, true to His promises, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-kind, all-wise and all-faithful. When we call His Name, we are declaring all that He is. As I consider everything that describes Him, I recognize there is no other name that can embody these attributes but His. No other name is infinitely good and has remained the same from the beginning. Yes, we might have some good in us, but none of us and no other name carried before or after us is completely and one hundred percent good. Isn’t it comforting to know that He is a God that is the same yesterday, today and forever? As He has been faithful in my past, He will continue to be faithful in my future. The same God that protected me from a near-missed accident is the same God that will protect me from future danger or harm. He will always be the God that will comfort me, provide for me and care for me.

As we reflect on this, there are two things to remember: we can change the definition of our name and become who we want and/or were intended to be; God cannot and never will change, and He is the One to give us the strength and ability to transform our name.

So what’s in a name, you ask?  The short and simple answer is EVERYTHING!


Philippians 4:13 (ESV) - "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) - "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."



Lord, I want my name and the thought of my name to reflect Your grace and goodness. Past faults and failures do not determine my future because You have redeemed me and made all things new. May I continually submit my life to You and allow You to transform the very definition of my name because you have transformed me.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page