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What’s in a Name?
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My friend Nancy, who is one of the best children’s storytellers I’ve ever heard, recently told me  a poignant story. She recalled her childhood when a teacher asked his students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Nancy knew what she wanted to be—and she confidently, proudly announced, “A waitress!” The teacher reacted in a disappointed manner. “Why? You are capable of so much more.” Nancy was crestfallen. She didn’t realize that he was trying to encourage her. She felt put down.

I don’t think I’d handle Nancy’s answer as her teacher did. First of all, waiting tables be it as waitress or waiter is an important service job. And you can be sure that many of today’s professionals worked their way through college or university as waitresses or waiters. Believe it or not, there are some people who actually love the work. I know one friend, with a college degree, who prefers waitressing to the push and stress of corporate America. She tossed her high heels and brief case. With her wages and tips, she does very well.

Felt Put Down

But that wasn’t the only time Nancy felt put down. She came from a hardscrabble southern-hills family. Indoor plumbing, hot water or toiletries were not a part of their existence. She wanted to attend church but her father refused to take her and her siblings. “If they want you, they can come get you,” her daddy said. One woman picked her up, along with other children and took them to church—when she remembered to do it. One of the children told Nancy, “She thinks you’re stinky!” Then, along came a good man, a well-known area educator, who picked her and other needy children up every week to take them to church. She recalls his kindness—she knew that he really wanted to be her friend.

So what’s in a name? “Waitress” or “Stinky” might have taken her to the bottom of the ladder because of the connotation given to them—but one caring man who didn’t use names that branded or hurt made a difference to her.

In Proverbs 22:1 we read, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver or gold.” Nancy did become a professional. She possesses a way about her that draws people, especially children, to her. In addition, if she ever gets tired of her career, well, she can always be what she wanted to be as a young child, a waitress. Anyone served by her in whatever capacity will feel that he or she is served well.

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By Betty Kossick. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from  the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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