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The Only Thing We Own Outright

August 25, 2008

There was a gentleman I trained under while working for a local bank while in college. “Mr. B” as he was called, was an older man who was a commercial lender for the institution and was to train me on how to make business calls. I knew Mr. B, as did everyone at the bank, because it seemed like he knew everyone and everyone knew him. Business deals sought him out with very little effort on his part. So when HR told me I was to train under him, I remember thinking to myself, “Now here is a true leader in the industry, what an opportunity.”

Mr. B had so much knowledge and I positioned myself as a sponge ready to absorb every ounce of it. I dressed like he did… well almost like he did! I would answer my phone using his little catch phrases and took notes on every action he did. I was going to make it in the banking industry, and Mr. B was going to teach me how.

There was one day I had the opportunity to pick Mr. B’s brain with the one question I wanted the answer to more than anything. So I posed the question to him one day at lunch, expecting a very deep and profound answer.

“Mr. B, what is the best piece of advice you could give me to be the leader of the bank… like you.”

Without even so much as a blink, Mr. B answer very resounded, “Call everyone by name.”

Ok, so here was the mega brain of all bank sales for my city and all he gave me was that? I sat and pondered for a little while before I asked my follow up question, “What?”

From there, Mr. B began to tell me how the main reason for his success was that he treated everyone as an individual. He believed in the Platinum Rule of treating everyone the way they want to be treated. Then, after his preface, he said a statement to me that still shapes how I approach people from a leadership perspective. “If you know someone’s name, you know the one part of them they own outright.” I had never thought about that in such a way.

Take a moment to think about your last jaunt to the grocery store. Did someone in there even acknowledge you were breathing? Chances are in this world, the answer is no. We have become so detached from the interpersonal connection all of us need and yearn for. Our name is all we have and it is something we own. Many of us chase fantastic dreams of establishing a legacy behind our name so when people think of our name, they equate it with either success, or fame, or family. So much put into such a small portion of us, and it is a portion we constantly overlook or go out of our way to acknowledge.

There is a song I love, just because of its simplicity. See the lyrics below:

He Knows My Name
Words and Music by Tommy Walker

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

Chorus
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me
No matter where I go

Chorus
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call

I’ve always loved this song, but it took on new meaning and love to me after I witnessed a mission video from the Philippines. The guy leading the mission was talking about this song and one of the 10 year olds in the choir made up of orphans from a local facility asked if he could sing the song by himself. I sat in absolute humility and awe as this child, whom the world had forsaken, sang from his heart to the heart of God. He took such a sweet pride and elevated tone when he got to the, “HE knows my name.” How amazing was it to me that this child took no other joy than in knowing that His Savior knew his name. Could you say the same?

So if it is that precious to someone who has nothing, only their name, what does that mean for those of us who are leaders? It should mean that we go out of our way to call someone by their name. Even Jesus gave the woman with the hemorrhage her time with him, even when she did not feel she deserved it. Jesus called Lazarus by name out of the tomb. He called Peter to walk on the water, Paul to the mission field, and Thomas to see and believe. All of this was done by our Savior, and he took the time to call them by name. Why? To further prove that he knows us intimately.

So if you are a leader today, no matter what capacity, take a moment to recognize someone by name. If you need a favor, call the individual by name. If you are starting with some feedback for them, whether positive or negative, use their name. Even in court, the first thing you are required to do is “State your name.” Show those you lead that you know them intimately and are willing to follow the leadership Christ provided in something as simple as a name.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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