What’s in a Name?

By Rev. Tim Yee

February 16, 2019

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

John 1:6-8


A man being pushed in a wheelbarrow.John, who is traditionally attributed as the author of this Gospel, is not the same person as John the Baptist. In John’s Gospel, every time John is mentioned, it is a reference to John the Baptizer, not the disciple.

I’ll be calling John the Baptist, John the Baptizer because there were no Baptists or Presbyterians or Pentecostals back in the first century! John got his name because he was known to live fully for the Lord, spending his life baptizing people into God’s family. John got his nickname from what people saw. If someone could observe you all day, what could your nickname be? Grumpy Glen? Caffeine Carol? Netflix Nate? Drama Dan?

Officer Deon Joseph has been patrolling the desperate streets of Skid Row for over 22 years. But instead of focusing on arresting those without homes, he focuses on community engagement, friendship, and pursuing justice for the vulnerable. He goes around Skid Row not handing out citations but putting arms around his friends on the street, taking women and children to Union Rescue Mission and praying with people looking for godly guidance. His nickname given by the community is “the Angel of Skid Row.” This is not surprising when you spend just a few minutes with Officer Deon. A popular speaker and expert on addressing issues in Skid Row, it’s not unusual for cameras to follow him around as part of a news story or TV interview. Though many could be intimidated by his size, strength, and badge, the cameras instead catch dozens of people hugging and talking with him like a friend. He got his nickname because of how he lives. What would be your nickname if the cameras followed you?

Something to Think About:

What would be my nickname if people saw the best of me? What would be my nickname if people saw the worst of me? What would I like my nickname to be for 2019?

Something to Do:

As you meet with team members you lead this month, invite feedback about how your leadership could:

  1. Keep doing something helpful (What am I doing well?)
  2. Stop doing something hurtful (What do I need to stop doing?)
  3. Start doing something needful (What is something new I can incorporate?)


Lord, I want my life to be one in which others would see your life pouring through me. Forgive me when my actions or inactions give you a bad name. Spirit, help me to be open to hear from others what I’m doing well and what needs to improve. Most importantly, help me to hear your voice over all the others. Amen.

Rev. Tim Yee

Contributor Emeritus & Pastor

Rev. Tim Yee is Pastor of Union Church of Los Angeles, a 100-year-old church in downtown L.A.’s Little Tokyo District where he serves a diverse church of professionals, internment camp survivors, artists and homeless. He serves on the Board of Union Rescue Mission where he leads the P...

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