One evening not long ago, I had one of those “Mom win” moments. My son David excitedly asked me to go see what he had put up on his wall. When I did, I found a hand-written note pinned there. It read: “Today was the first time in my life that Ester called me PRINCE!!! I feel blessed!!!”
A laugh of joy came up from inside me as I read those words. Ester is his older sister. What an impact she had made! I expressed to David my celebration of his joy. And then (of course), I turned it into a teachable moment. I remarked, “So much blessing from just one word! See the power there? Just like that, use your power too, Buddy!”
I bet you’ve heard of this kind of power. It’s the one 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). Let’s get even more specific, though, with this example. Ester had used the Power of Naming.
God delegated this power to us from the very beginning of time. Think about it. He allowed Adam to partner with Him in His breathtaking work of bringing forth Planet Earth. How so? He granted him the remarkable privilege of 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 simply 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 assigned activity had everything to do with the dominion mandate that He entrusted to Adam and Eve:“…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).
Do you 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 creation.”
My “Mom win” moment is a perfect example of this principle. 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… he just had to express in writing what she had said to him.
You and I are called to use this same power every day. Do you remember how much it lifted your spirits the last time someone took a moment to give you a genuine compliment? Jesus healed people with just one word. How much life, then, is packed into just a single verbal expression of His kindness?
On the other hand, if we call someone a jerk… uh oh! In that moment, we are invoking the Power of Naming the wrong way over his or her life. In doing so, we are partnering with the enemy to keep that individual captive. What if, instead, in our moment of frustration, we bite our tongue and take a deep breath? What if we then passionately blurt out, “You… you… you… you person becoming a gentleman, in Jesus’ name, you!!!”?
And… what if we imitate Jesus this way too: we call all the impulsive Simons in our lives “Rocks”? And how about if we dub every fearful Gideon we meet, a “Mighty One of Valor”? What if we stop choosing labels for people that reinforce their imprisonment to bad habits? What if we instead purposefully bestow on them life-imparting titles of purpose and value?
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. Let’s employ that dominion for His Kingdom, today…
As I said to David that night, “Use your Power, too!”
Is there someone in your life who could benefit from the Power of Naming?