Column: Names

FULL-leecolumnWhen I was in kindergarten, I was defined as the kid who liked to pretend to be a dog. I even dressed up as a dog for my Christian school’s annual kindergarten circus.

It was also in K5 that I learned the definition of my first name, Lee. After five years of having people call me Lee, I found out they were calling me “a quiet meadow.” Of course, those who knew me as a 5-year-old would not have thought of me as a quiet meadow.

You see, it was not the dictionary definition of my name that defined me as a 5-year-old, but rather the things I did. The same is true of me today, and true of every person.

For example, there is a man whose first name, according to, means “noble and ready.” But even though it has been more than 65 years since his death, the name Alphonse “Al” Capone is still one of the most recognized criminal names in America—a far cry from “noble and ready.”

The good news is our names mean more than what Wikipedia or even says their definitions are. Ultimately, it is up to each of us to define our own names.

One person in particular comes to my mind as a man defined by his actions: Dr. Lee Roberson, a Christian leader of not so long ago whose name, sadly, is not known by many Christians today.

I was named after Dr. Roberson and grew up hearing about him from my parents, graduates of Tennessee Temple University. Dr. Roberson was no quiet meadow, but rather led an inspiring, bold life of Christian service. His accomplishments include founding and leading Tennessee Temple and pastoring Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Looking back on the life of Dr. Roberson and others who have been defined by Christian leadership, we see what God is capable of doing through willing servants.

You and I can be just as defined by our work for Christ as the greatest hero of the faith we can think of—whomever that may be for you.

Even if you have been defined in the past by actions you regret, God gives you the chance to have your life’s definition rewritten.

The Apostle Paul is a classic example of a man who was once known as a persecutor of Christians, but his life was drastically redefined as a warrior for the Christian faith after meeting the Savior.

While dictionary definitions rarely change, your life’s definition can be changed based on how you live. The question is whether or not you will allow God to write the definition of your life.