I think our culture overlooks the power a name has on a person’s life. Rather than considering how a person’s name might bless them and help shape their identity, we focus on what sounds nice or what is popular at the time. When we name a child we have a great opportunity to bless him and provide him with a sense of purpose and significance.
I know that my parents’ blessed me with my name. My name, Paul Benjamin, has provided me with confidence and help ground me in faith. The reason is because I am named after the apostle Paul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin. Knowing that this is where my name comes from gives me a desire to live up to that name.
When Jenny and I were considering names for our son we were committed to finding a name that would be a blessing to him. We both had a short list of names that we liked, but we didn’t want to decide on a name until after we were able to meet him for the first time. We continued to think about names and pray that God would give us the perfect name for our son.
One of the names I liked early on was the name Liam. I liked it because it was Irish in origin and because of its meaning: unwavering protector. As the first born I wanted to give him a sense of responsibility of looking out for his younger siblings, as well as anyone who maybe weaker than he is.
As much as I like the name Liam I dropped it from the list because of its growing popularity in the United States. I didn’t want to name our son in a way that seemed trendy at the time. It was important for me to have people understand that there was a reason behind the name.
That is why I love the name Micah for our son. A number of people have said, “I love the name! How did you come up with it?”
The credit lies with my wife. The night before Micah was born we were still considering different names. Micah was on both of our short lists, but up to that time my hesitation with it was the fact that the only Micah I knew was a girl I went to college with. Therefore, in spite of its Biblical origins, it was somewhat of a feminine name for me.
When Jenny brought up the name again she added, “Micah 6:8 says, ‘No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ Franklin means ‘freedom,’ and Steele stands for ‘strength.’ Our prayer for him could be that he would do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God in freedom and strength.” That thought resonated deep within my heart. It was exactly the type of name with which I wanted to bless my son.
The next day, when I was able to lay eyes on him for the first time, I ran through the short list of names that I liked, and none of them seemed to fit except Micah. When Jenny and I were finally alone with our newborn son we were able to talk about his name for the first time after seeing him. We both agreed that Micah was the only name that fit him.
A couple of hours later when Jenny’s parents came to visit we ran the name past them, and they loved it, so his name became official. With his name we blessed Micah to be a man of justice, mercy, humility, freedom, and strength.
There is a second reason why I love Micah’s name. That is because we were able to use my wife’s maiden name as his middle name. Since she gave up her last name when we were married, I wanted to honor her family’s legacy by using that name with our first born child. It is important for Micah to know that he comes from a long legacy of people of faith. It is part of who he is.
Names are important. When we give a name to someone we have a great opportunity to bless them. Use that opportunity wisely.