What’s His Name? (3 John 14)

His silver-gray hair was combed to cover a bald spot on the top of his scalp. He confidently strode around our conference table, fitting for a full professor and chairman of a prestigious university pathology department. His voice was firm, almost monotone, as he recounted key quality parameters that every laboratory must strive to maintain in order to deliver excellent patient care. Although I was honored to be in the presence of such a legend in the laboratory business, my mind was beginning to drift, numbed by the statistical charts and parameters he was rattling off. 


“So this next item is directed to the younger pathologists in the room.”


Wake up! He was speaking to me!


Several times a year, my former group organized a dinner meeting and invited an expert in various sub-specialties within diagnostic pathology. The speaker for that evening was a renowned expert in quality control, who literally wrote the textbook that every pathologist had utilized in their training and continued to use as a reference during their careers. I was a new associate with my pathology group and was eager to learn his pearls of wisdom. 


“To be a successful leader and pathologist, you need to learn the names of everyone in your laboratory.” 


That was unexpected. Instead of some esoteric pearl about the Deming cycle of continuous improvement, he was giving me a lesson in human resources.


“Not only that,“ he continued, “you must learn the names of their spouses, their children, and what their hobbies are.” 


I was dumbfounded. “The laboratory is all about the people who work there and you need to know them as well as you know your own family members. Is it easy? No. I admit, sometimes I forget the names of people.” He winked at us. “There are over three hundred people in my laboratory. You don’t have to do it all at once but this should be your continual goal.” 


After the meeting, I reflected upon his words. He was absolutely correct. There is nothing more reaffirming or reassuring to me of my importance to any organization when the leader knows my name. I thought about my mentors in college and medical school who adopted this same leadership principle. I respected them because they took the time to learn my name and know something about me. 


But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

3 John 14 (KJV)


The third letter of John is one of the shortest books in the Bible but it is rich with practical lessons for life. In the last verse, John instructs his readers to greet their mutual friends by name. It was a personal touch that transcended the written word and endeared John to his readers. Many years ago, Rear Admiral Robert C. Lee stated, “The sweetest sound to anyone’s ears is the sounds of his own name.” This is the same sentiment that is reinforcing God’s Words. 


When we know and address someone by their name, it is reaffirming a relationship and imparts a level of respect and compassion toward that person that few other actions can ever achieve.


…The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 

John 10:3


Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd who calls each of us, His sheep, by our own name to lead us to salvation and eternal life. He does this when we confess and repent of our sins and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. The most important relationship we will ever have is to know God. 


Isn’t it comforting to know God knows each of us by our own name?


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


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