What a name means

By Gerry Lewis | Published Saturday, July 28, 2018

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Hi, I’m Gerry. What’s your name?

I seriously would like to know your name. I’d also like to know how you got your name.

When people hear that I’m Gerry Lewis, they can’t hear the “G” at the beginning. I often get comments about Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin or Jerry Lee Lewis. Some people assume that my parents were fans of one of these famous people and that’s where my name came from.

My birth name is Thomas Gerald. I was actually named after my parents – father Thomas Jefferson and mother Geralene, shortened to Gerry.

Thomas is a family name. Along with my father having the name, my grandfather was Thomas Alcon. My son is Thomas Ezekiel and grandson Thomas Owen.

You now know how I got my name. Aside from knowing how you got your name, I’d like to know what your name means to you.

My name obviously means family. Being named after both my parents is a strong connection. Having a generational name also means legacy to me. When I think family, I think legacy. I think of living into the hopes and dreams that previous generations had and bringing the best of that forward into my life and pass it on to future generations.

I recently studied the origin and meaning of my names. I discovered that Thomas means twin. Gerald means rules with a spear. Lewis means famed warrior.

Dude! I’m set for greatness! I should be large and in charge!

But that’s not what it means to me.

When I see “twin” I am reminded that I am no more special than anyone else. I don’t deserve more blessings or favor than anyone else. When I look at another person, I want to see him as someone who is just as valuable as I am.

I want to see her as someone who, like me, is created in the image of God. I want to see him as someone who, like me, is a person for whom Jesus died.

When I see “rules with a spear,” I don’t see authority or privilege. I see responsibility. I see a call to live wisely and use my influence for good. I want to value people over things. I want to live into my calling as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God.

When I see “famed warrior” I don’t see myself as an aggressor who kicks butt and takes names, but one who defends and champions an amazing legacy and an even more amazing destiny. I want everyone to know how much our lives matter to God.

You may not have noticed, but within this post I shifted from telling you my name to telling you part of who I am. Who I am is who I choose to be.

Now, what does your name mean to you? I’d love to hear from you.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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