What’s in a name?

Renee Ann Smith —  March 3, 2011 — 76 Comments

My morning classroom

As a classroom teacher I’m typically highly conscious of time usage, scheduling, setting goals, and taking the steps to meet them. When I worked full-time, I arrived at school early and stayed late so I could study, plan, prepare. Sometimes I’d be so into that day’s tasks that when the students arrived, they seemed like an interruption.

I remember that during the early years of my teaching career, I considered teachers’ conferences a mixed blessing. I did enjoy the speakers and the restaurants and especially the book table, but it was an awful lot of time away from studying and planning and preparing . . .

Anyway, at one conference, I was privileged to hear the unforgettable Jack Layman, a professor from Columbia International University in South Carolina. He began his talk with a series of questions to ‘wake us up.’ He asked us what’s the longest name in the Bible and who said some obscure quote and other things that sent us on random, amusing thought trails.

Then he said, “Who can name every child in your classroom?”

I and the teachers near me began busily scribbling names from memory. I hoped there was a prize for this one because I had the list down cold, even after only a few weeks of school.

Once we stopped buzzing, Dr. Layman continued, “So what’s the name of every child in your classroom? Jesus Christ. Because the Bible says, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you have done it unto Me.’”

Those words changed my focus and became the touchstone of my teaching. Soon I was trying to follow the principle of that verse for every group of people I encountered in my life.

Dr. Layman opened a door for me that day, and I’ve never regretted where it led . . .

*This is a repost from my early days of blogging in August 🙂


Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

76 responses to What’s in a name?

  1. This is beautiful!! I wish all teachers felt like this!

  2. Ohhh that’s good! Good reminder for ALL of us! I can see how that statement can change your life. I’m going to memorize that so I don’t forget it!

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  3. Oh, I loved this today. I think I can use it often with all the people that I come in contact with them. Would I really be impatient if it were Christ standing in front of me? I so needed this today. Thank you for touching my heart and reminding me what is most important.

  4. Love this post Renee Ann! The question could be generalized to “What’s the name of every person you meet?” Jesus Christ. Not that we are Jesus and divine, but each person we meet should be looked at as God’s special creation. Easier said than done, though 🙂

    • It’s a tough standard, but how much better would this world be if more of us aimed that high? I think you’re off to a good start, Tracy–especially with the efforts you make to teach others the value of life! Blessings!

  5. Aaaarrrrgggghhh….after the day I had today, this was a major conviction.

    Tomorrow will be better, Lord.

    Thanks Renee Ann. 🙂

  6. Excellent! We can apply that to so many situations in our lives.

  7. The “why” we do things (or should be doing things) certainly puts things in perspective doesn’t it?

  8. Thanks so much for linking up with Journey of Faith Friday.

    I really had to stop and think after I read your post. I think I will be pondering this one for a few days. I know it will truly challenge me to look at people through a different lens.

  9. I worked in a public school, yet everyday before my children came into my classroom, I asked the Lord to help me be the teacher each child needed. In fact, I prayed silently all day long. And at the end of the day as the children were leaving, I thanked the Lord for the day’s successes even when I wasn’t certain there had been any, because it wasn’t my classroom, it was His.

  10. Thank you for sharing that! Such a good reminder!
    And thanks for always being a faithful commenter on my blog! =)

  11. Wow, what a powerful reminder! Thanks for sharing it!

  12. Such a powerful thing to keep in mind in the classroom. It can be so challenging in there!

  13. Wow! What amazing advice, not just as a teacher, but no matter what we do, who we meet, where we go, if we could just remember to see Jesus when we look at people, imagine how differently we would approach every day life.

    Thank you for sharing this! SO insightful!!

    Hopping over from NOBH!

  14. That’s a great verse for any Christian to live by, I think…whether you’re a teacher or not! A sweet story and a wonderful reminder.

    Thanks for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. Have fun finding a a few good reads, and I hope you’ll visit Serenity Now again soon. 🙂

  15. Wow! That does bring everything into perspective! I love all the pictures!!!

  16. What an amazing thought and focus to have in your teaching! Thanks so much for sharing that. I’m visiting a bit late from iFellowship – have a wonderful weekend!

  17. What a wonderful thing to remember, especially when you have a difficult students! I taught second grade for 12 years, and I would know my class list very well within a couple of weeks.

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest — thanks for stopping by my blog!

  18. wow…this was great to read. thanks for this….☺

  19. I am following you back. I love your blog, I can’t wait to explore it more. I already see a couple books that I am gonna need to read. 🙂 Books and Jesus! How could it be bad! 🙂 Have a blessed Saturday. Tobi

  20. I once owned a Deli and everyday a lady came in that irritated me to no end. I went to God in prayer about it and He presented a book called “How To Love Someone You Can’t Stand”..It showed me that everyone that enters your life is put there for a reason. Whether it is to teach you a lesson, or for you to teach them a lesson. I understood from that day forward that she too, is God’s creation and she was put in my life for a purpose. I soon became involved in her life and we both came out knowing God a whole lot better. Thanks for the post.

    • I agree, Sherry, that God brings people into our lives for a reason. But that doesn’t always make them easier to deal with! I’m sure God blessed you for going out of your way to reach out to that woman. Thanks for sharing your testimony here.

  21. Wow! You hit me over the head with that one. One of the things that kept me teaching as long as I did was remembering that verse. I pray I made an impact on the kids I taught and showed them the love of Christ.

  22. My memory is beyond bad~~~ My prayers go to all teachers.

  23. You truly do make a difference in the lives of your students! 🙂 The story was very touching, thank you-this really does apply in all aspects of life. Hugs to you!

  24. That was worth a respost and can be applied to so many parts of all our lives. He is in everyone we encounter… or waiting to be in them.

  25. Hi Renee,

    This is my first visit to your blog and I appreciate the insight shared regarding my attitude toward others. I shall remember these words of Christ:

    …you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you have done it unto Me.

    Blessings and peace.


  26. Hi Renee Anne,

    Wonderful post. Sometimes it takes the Lord to wake us up and redirect our steps and our thinking as he did yours. May he continue to bless your teaching career.

    It is nice to meet you, and thanks for stopping by my blog to leave a message. Hope to speak with you again soon.


  27. Thank you for reading and commenting on my post on Spiritual Sundays! I appreciate the fact that you choose to invest in the lives of many, both in the classroom and online. Often, as I enter patient rooms as a nurse, I am reminded WHO I serve — that it is Jesus I am privileged to care for that night. Meanwhile, He cares for me simultaneously (and without ceasing)!! What a wonderful Savior we have. I pray His richest blessings on your ministry of teaching and writing.

  28. You sound like a very conscientious dedicated teacher. There should be more of them like you out there teaching. I’m so glad you chose to share with us on Spiritual Sundays.

  29. This was such a powerful message. In my teaching days I often prayed” help me to give them what they need”, because some days it was just not clear and I so needed his vision.
    God be with you, you are making a difference in lives.

  30. Beautiful story. My husband is an educator and loves the interaction with his students although they are adults. It’s that connection that makes learning possible. I just loved this — we should look at all we come in contact with as Jesus.


  31. Wow. Sounds like an amazing moment/lesson 🙂 Thanks for sharing it with us.

  32. What a great sentiment – must remember this 🙂

    Thanks for sharing – popped over from NOBH

  33. What a great reminder! Thanks, this is what I need to remember with my “students” too!
    And I’m in awe of the fact that you are naturally organized. I am not so I’m learning some things the hard way.

    • Thanks, Julia! I guess I should have written that I was uber-organized until the pre-menopausal ages hit. Now I’m only holding my own because of those years of experience 🙂

  34. what a wonderful way to think about each child’s name! Thank you for sharing that with us today! and, I’m so glad that you are following our story. It is nice to meet you!

  35. Thanks so much for posting this. We all can use that in our lives whenever we deal with people! The Grace Card Movie reminds us to etend grace to others…the way that Christ extended his grace to us. After seeing it I stop and think a lot more before I form conclusions or write people off. Everyone deserves forgiveness and grace as much as we do. (Or another way to look at it is none of us deserved God’s grace, but he gave it freely to us…so we should remember that when dealing with others and always be loving and kind.)

    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits


  36. Being in the college football coaching world I really relate to this story. What a great challenge! Thanks for sharing!

  37. Wow! What a concept to put into practice by us all!

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