I received my first nickname in the fourth grade. I was tall even back then. My height comes from having long legs (and big feet, I might add.) I was also pretty skinny so you can imagine that I looked pretty gangly. I was in my P.E. Class and my teacher said to me, “Come here Daddy Long Legs.” I was nicknamed after a spider. Not even a really cool spider. The one anyone and their mother can squish.
As a giver of nicknames, I now understand how powerful a nickname can be. It goes beyond identifying you. It characterizes you and that label can describe you in a powerful way. Daddy Long Legs tells people he is docile, spindly, fragile and no threat to you. Translate: he is quiet, growing into his own body, sensitive and will not hurt you. Not a bad assessment. If I stayed with that nickname all my life, I would be in trouble. I could not lead like I am called to lead if I hadn’t changed some of those things.
Matt Keller in his book, “God of the Underdogs” says, “Because we serve a God that is bigger than any label that’s been place on you, there is hope for you.” I love that! What label has been put on you? Maybe you put the label on yourself. One of the biggest challenges I saw when I did children’s ministry was when I asked kids, “What are some of the “words” (labels) that people have said about you?” I heard answers like, “dumb,” “stupid,” “too slow,” “too much energy – hyper,” “fat,” “ugly,” “you’ll never be like your brother/sister,” “you will never amount to anything.” Read that list again. Who in their right mind would say such things to a child? Whether they heard it directly or in another way, that was the label they wore.
Here is the crazy thing. I know people my age who still wear the same labels today. They have let someone else’s view determine how they see themselves today. It is like they are going through life in a glass prison cell. They see things but are “boxed” into the label put on them. If that is you, let me tell you God is bigger than any label you are wearing today. At GFC, we created Freedom, a 10 week program to expose all the lies and garbage that people carry today and help them get rid of it.
Keller challenges his readers at the end of the chapter to pray this simple prayer. “Ok God, I’m ready. Change me from the inside out. Not just my decisions and my outcomes. Change who I believe I am.”
Those are words to live by today!