name-dropping

Posted: February 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

I was in my late twenties and we were on family vacation – our finest day.  We had gotten up early, but then the business of finishing packing up the Suburban had run us much later than we thought.  We made the long, tedious drive on Interstate 80 across Iowa to Des Moines, where we turned north and on up into Minnesota.  Iowa is a great state, but I wouldn’t ever call it scintillating driving.  We were tired, all of us.  The kids, even though they each had their own entire bench seat in the back, were less than impressed with all the driving and driving and driving.  We had gotten food on the road.  Now it was after 10 PM and we were finally at our overnight destination – a hotel near Minneapolis.

I got out and went in to get us signed in and paid for.  The dude behind the counter was a young guy with sharp clothes and fashionable hair; his face sort of curled into a sneer as I walked through the door.  Admittedly, I was a mess.  I had been up since before sunrise.  I had worked and sweated and not really fixed my hair, nor bothered to put on makeup, before we left.  My nails were undone as usual.  I was traveling in comfort clothes – sweats.  I had spilled food on my shirt along the way, and the wet wipes that we carried with didn’t really salvage that situation.  Still, I was not too tired to notice his contempt.

I gave him my name.  We had made reservations.  He clicked around on his keyboard and gave a bored glance at the monitor.  Then he shook his head.  “You didn’t check in on time, and you didn’t secure your reservation with a credit card.  The room is gone.  I might be able to get you another room at a higher rate.”

Irritation flashed through me, but for once, I knew I had the upper hand.  This reservation had not been made by me – it had been made by one of my best friends, who just happened to be a big-wig in this very hotel chain.  Staring him down, I spoke my friend’s name clearly.  “_____ made the reservation for me; she assured me there would be no problem with the lack of credit card.”

I watched as the color drained from his face.  He cleared his throat, suddenly much more accommodating.  He clicked around on his keyboard some more.  Lo and behold, it turned out THERE WAS a room reserved for us, for the agreed-to amount of $11 for the night.  Weary but triumphant, I returned to the Suburban to unload the kids for the night.

That was the first experience I can recall of dropping a name to get my way.  It was very satisfying in the moment – not because I like power plays, but because that pompous dude was so quick to dismiss me as a human being.  It felt good to watch him being reminded that he had to treat me with respect, even if I did look like some loser tramping through his front door.

Of course now I assist the CEO of the company where I work.  I guess I could do a whole lot of name-dropping to make things happen.  I try not to do that.  No one likes a minion who uses the power of their superior to push people around.  No one wants to be friends with Dwight Schrute.  I am assistant TO the CEO, not Assistant CEO.  And besides, power abused is power lost, sooner or later.  I only pull out my boss’s name when: 1) I’m doing a task that he wants me to do, and 2) someone is reluctant to follow through on the request for their part in it, and 3) making pleasant and reasonable requests/attempts has failed.  This almost never happens.

What about using the name-dropping power play, when it comes to God?

It can be a wise and wonderful tool, if the one we are talking to is the enemy of us all, as he tries to derail us.  Mentioning what “my Father” says about a situation is a darn good way to turn the tide, when defeat seems to be everywhere and the whisper of condemnation is so convincing in its insistence that all is lost and nothing will ever be right again.  It is right, good, and appropriate to “drop God’s name” when doing battle with him who comes to kill, steal, and destroy.

But I think we get it mostly wrong, when we use it with people.  We speak as if we are prophets, when all too often we are just people with opinions and an over-eagerness to share them…just little control freaks with what we perceive to be a big stick.  We pronounce with an authority that we haven’t earned, presuming a permission we’ve not been granted.  We use His name as a power to enforce our own, possibly (probably?) flawed perspective upon others who didn’t ask for any such instruction.

I think we who wear the name of “Christ-follower” need to be intentional in honing the way we “drop His name.”  We need to be bolder with it, when the enemy is seducing or oppressing or frightening us.  And we need to be gentler and more loving with it, when we are dealing with other members of the human race.  Oh, there are surely some folks who are getting that mix right.  But I can’t say I’m always on that list, and I’m pretty sure that there are times when I think I’m being used as God’s mouthpiece when He didn’t prompt any of what I had to say, at all.

I reckon I’m not alone in that – partly because of things I observe, but mostly because we all fall short.  Ever catch yourself getting it all switched up?

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