Since the day I was born back in 1976, My name has always been Jeffrey. Named to honor my great grandfather, Jefferson Benson Henry, I carried my name with pride. Sometimes it was shortened to “Jeff” but other than that, I had never had to worry or be concerned with being someone else. I was proud of my heritage, and the meaning behind my name. I ever really thought any different about it. I was born Jeff, and Jeff I would always be. Or so I thought.
The day everything changed.
Throughout my child hood and into my young adult years, people kinda picked on me, but never in reference to my name. They harassed me for just about everything else (High School was rough) I mean, with a normal name like “Jeff Henry” there is not much to make fun of.
Some years later, I began a new job at at local Fire Truck dealer. It was my dream job!! I love being around any kind of firefighting apparatus, and now I got paid for playing with them all day! The First day of work, a veteran service technician introduced himself to me. When I told him my name, he replied “Oh cool, welcome Jeffro.”
What did he just say?
My name is not Jeffro??
Bu the deed had already been done. Soon enough, everyone was calling me “Jeffro.” At first I took offense to the name. I was even a little angry. In my mind, I felt that my friend had given me that name, to in some crazy way, make fun of me. It took me years, to realize, that it was actually the polar opposite.
So, I became “Jeffro.” At work, at the firehouse, everywhere I went. In all honesty, I was a little frustrated.
Ironically, when we started pastoring teenagers, I became “Pastor Jeffro.” The nickname became so commonplace, that some of our young students didn’t even know my real name. To most folks, having a nickname would be a cool thing. But not to this over anxious introvert. I still couldn’t understand that having a nickname, wasn’t a bad thing.
Teenagers are smart.
As crazy as it sounds, I was really struggling with this. However, it took the words of a young lady in my youth group to help me see through the clouds in my mind. One evening at the church, one of our Jr High students (Who I have known since she was a toddler) out of no where said to me,
“Hey, Do I have to call you “Pastor??”
Me: “Well, I guess not, is there something wrong with that?”
Student: “Noooooo, you have just always been just Jeffro. That’s the name we like.”
It was like a lightning bolt stuck my brain. Maybe my nickname wasn’t a bad thing. Maybe it wasn’t a bad joke. Perhaps it was just, well, me??
In the scriptures, Jesus changed the name of one of his disciples. Check it;
John 1:42 The Message (MSG)
40-42 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”). He immediately led him to Jesus.
Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”).
Jesus gave Simon a new name, more than likely to encourage him. The word “Peter” means “Rock” (signifying strength) and then promises to build his church on that rock! Maybe being given a special name isn’t so bad after all?
Now, my nickname did not mean power and strength like what peter’s did. But it did mean something I hadn’t previously considered. Perhaps it was gifted to me, because someone really cared,
Something as simple as a new name (or nickname) can illustrate how people really feel about you as a person. They are almost always given in love.
Jeffro at 40.
So, here I am, in my mid 40’s, and I’m still Jeffro. And I’m really comfortable with that. I have even become “Uncle Jeffro to my niece and nephew. Does it still bother me?? Not at all. Actually, every time someone asks me about it, I get the unique opportunity to share who I am, and what makes “Jeffro” who he is. Jesus.
Yep, my name is Jeffro, and I approved this message.
What do you think?
Till next week