The power of a name

Feb. 15, 2017 | by David Bowman

My name is David Gene Bowman.

A guest preacher spoke at our church when I was about eight years old. He shook my hand and asked my name as I left the worship center that morning. When I introduced myself as “David” he said, “That’s a good Bible name.” I had never thought about it before but had to agree.

The name David means beloved.

I didn’t use my middle name much growing up because I didn’t see its merit until well into my adult years. Gene is the name I heard when I was in trouble as a kid. If I heard, “David Gene!” it meant to run and hide.

I was in college when I discovered Gene means "noble or Nobleman." Not bad. It feels a lot better now when someone discovers it and uses it hoping to embarrass me.

Together with my surname, which indicates a warrior armed with a bow, my three names mean "Beloved Noble Warrior." Now that’s a name to live up to!

Our son’s name is Jonathan Bryce. Jonathan means "God’s gracious gift." It is similar to his grandfather’s name, John, while Bryce is his great-grandfather’s name. If you go to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, you will find a monument outside the walls bearing the names of the heroes who died there. Right there near Davy Crockett and James Bowie, you find Jesse Bryce Bowman. Let that sink in a moment.

I have no idea if we’re related, but pending further information, I’m claiming him!

We gave Jonathan his name because the biblical David and Jonathan were good friends. I didn’t think about the fact that Jonathan was a warrior. Our son is named after warriors. He is a captain in the United States Marines. I didn’t see that coming.

Our baby girl is Paula Michelle. Paula means "Little One." That’s what I have called her all of her life. Michelle is a rhetorical question: Who is like the LORD? Like her name, her ambition is to honor God and serve others by fighting on behalf of the little ones.

She and her mother went to Guatemala with Buckner Benevolences when Paula was in high school. She fell in love with the orphans and was deeply disturbed by the challenges young women face when they age out of orphan care. She decided she would pursue a legal career to do something about it.

Paula is now in law school preparing to serve and protect the little ones. She wants every child to have the benefit of growing up in a loving home like she enjoyed.

What is the power of a name? Names can indicate character or destiny. They project parents’ fondest hopes and dreams for their sons and daughters.

Think about the importance of names in the Bible. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. Cephas became Peter. Saul became Paul. Joseph became Barnabas, which means, Son of Encouragement.

Do you have a name to live up to? Or, do you have a name to live down? If you were to change your name, what would it be?

In Revelation 2:17, Jesus says to the Church of Pergamum, “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it,” (HCSB).

Think about it: One day I will not have to share my name with every other Dave, Davy, and David on the planet. You and I will have our very own names. God’s individualized love for you will find full display.

Someone has said a person’s name is the sweetest sound he or she hears. How much more true will that be in heaven?

Questions for reflection and action

  1. What do your names mean?

  2. Do you have a name to live up to?

  3. Do you have a name to live down?

  4. If you could change your name to anything else, what would it be?

  5. What name would you love to deserve?


Topics: Discipleship, Leadership, Ministry, Vision



David Bowman

Dr. David Bowman is the Executive Director of the Tarrant Baptist Association in Fort Worth, Texas. He also serves as a Lead Navigator for Auxano.

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