Living as a Leader

Calling a Person by Name

Neil Atkinson
I remember my sophomore year at East Kentwood High School walking down the senior hall way and a guy named Neil was standing at the turn to the sophomore lockers. As I approached Neil gave me this big smile and said “Hi Mike what’s up?”

Now there was no “hey man” or “hey dude” or any other generic label used for a male high school sophomore. No, he used my name.

I respond with a thoughtful “not much” and kept on walking to my locker. As I walked on I remember thinking “this guy knows my name. I’ve only met him a couple of times and there are over 2000 students in this school and he remembers me.”

You see Neil was the Grand Rapids Area Director for Young Life and led the club at my high school and I had attended a couple of clubs as a freshman.

So guess what happened after that day in the hallway when Neil called my by name? I started attending Young Life every single week. This led to attending YL camp that summer and, as a result, seeing my life changed forever.

And I mean forever. Almost everything about my life’s been influenced by that camp experience and the decision I made to trust Christ with my life.

And it all started because Neil made the effort to not only know my name but to know it well enough to call me by it in a very public place.

Years later Neil trained me to be a volunteer Young Life leader where I learned his secrets to learning and remembering another person’s name. It’s a skill I continue to use and one that I pray has the same impact on others that it had on me that day in my high school hall way.

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