In this season of life, I’ve been reminded of just how important the people you do community with are. I think a lot of people who go through a major transition (divorce, job change, move cities, graduate college) often find themselves in a unique position where they’re having to somewhat start over relationally. Of course, there are those people who are with you for life but the reality is, many of us find ourself in seasons where we’re somewhat having to re-establish who our “tribe” is.

Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

This relates to the law of averages, which is the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. Simply put, when it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. It impacts our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions.  

I was thinking about this principle the other day while I was reading through part of the Old Testament. I’m currently doing a Bible reading plan that will take me through the Bible in a year and right now, I’m kind of stuck in a series of chapters that honestly don’t seem to have any relevancy to my life. But then I stumbled on something pretty cool.

There are several places in the Old Testament where God changes people’s names. For example, in the particular passage I was reading, He renames Abram to Abraham because he transforms him. He does this several times.

Then when we get to the New Testament where Jesus came along and he would also rename people. Jesus saw a transforming work in Simon and he renamed him Peter, which meant rock. He was anything but a “rock” in that moment but Jesus was calling out what he know he could become.  

So here is what I think we need to get. What God did in the Old Testament….what Jesus did when he came to earth…now the church should do: I think one of the greatest purposes of the church should be to create environments where we help people discover their new name.

Here’s your new name.

Here is who you can become.

Old habits can change.

Old patterns can be rewired.

You can become that person God had in mind when he thought you up.

Part of what we are to do for the people that God has placed in our lives is to say: I see a new name in you. I believe that anything can happen.

Listen, the people around you don’t need you to remind them of what they’ve done wrong. Trust me, they rehearse that over and over in their head. And besides, guilt and shame are horrible and ineffective motivators for long term change and was never the method Jesus used.

Don’t remind them of what they did yesterday, but who they could become tomorrow.

And don’t just be that person, but also surround yourself with people that will be that for you. We all need that reminder of who we really are and who we’re becoming in the light of a good and gracious God.