For most people, their name is the greatest connection to their unique identity. When we remember someone's name, we demonstate that we value him or her. No matter what our excuse—bad memory, poor hearing, age, etc—we can improve our ability to recall names. An article in The Washington Post offers helpful strategies for how to remember the names of people we meet, which shows that we care and may eventually lead to opportunities to share how God cares for them.
An article on John's third epistle at the Theology of Work Project reminds us about the importance of remembering names.
John has things to communicate that would be better said face to face than in pen and ink (3 John 13–14). But there is a twist in 3 John that offers another insight for our daily work. At the very end, John adds, “Greet the friends there, each by name.”
Speaking a person’s name adds further to the personal touch that John recognizes is needed in communication. Many of us come face to face with hundreds of people in the course of our work. To some degree, we need to communicate with each of them, even if only to avoid knocking into each other in the hallway. How many of them do we know well enough to greet by name? Do you know your boss’s boss’s boss’s name? Probably. Do you know the name of the person who empties the trash in your workplace? Do you greet people by name when you are in conflict with them? Do you learn the names of newcomers to the organization who may need your help at some point?
The names you bother to learn and those you don’t can reveal a lot about your level of respect and compassion for people. John cares enough to greet “each” person by name.