What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

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Growing up I never really liked my name.  I didn’t think it sounded cool enough, and it seemed rather boring and plain to me.

Then you add in my last name (McEldowney…my maiden name) which no one could ever pronounce and well, it was a recipe for extreme dislike.

That is, until I realized my name was very significant and important to the destiny and purpose God had for me. God had a hand in choosing my name, whether my parents knew it or not.

no moreexcuses

A few weeks ago, I started a series called No More Excuses about God calling out our destiny just like He did for Gideon (Judges 6-8).  Then last week, I shared about four lessons from Gideon’s life as we Boldly Go forward in what God has for us to do.  So what do these previous post have to do with me not liking my name?

Wait, I promise, I will get there.

Last week, lesson #2 was Awaken to your Destiny!  I shared the following:

2. Awaken to your Destiny

Gideon had to be awakened to his destiny and often the same is true of us.  God expands and uses the abilities He has already given us.

In spite of what we see as our limitations and failures – God see’s our potential and gives us a name in line with our destiny.

When the angel shows up, he speaks Gideon’s destiny!

        Mighty Warrior – Mighty Man of Valor

He calls out the answer to all of Gideon’s and the Israelites feelings and presenting problems.  Gideon couldn’t see anything other than his own limitations and weaknesses.

To boldly Go - no excuses Part 2

Gideon was so focused on what he was NOT that he needed someone to remind him of who he already was and who he was to become.  Gideon had to be awaken to the destiny that was already in him.  His very name speaks of a Mighty Warrior, or as some versions of the Bible say, a Mighty Man of Valor.  Gideon just needed the treasure buried deep inside of him to be uncovered.

The name Gideon literally means: Tree cutter.  The spiritual connotation is:  Victorious.[1]

However, as we read Gideon’s story Judges 6-8 we know that Gideon saw himself as less than and definitely not victorious.  Even his inherent name meaning– a tree cutter, a hewer, speaks of strength and might.

I, like Gideon didn’t see the importance nor the value in my given name.

I always heard my mother say she wanted to name me something entirely different.  My father on the other hand was adamant that I be named Debbie.  My mom after conceding that I was to be named Debbie, argued that it should at least be a proper full name and wanted to call me Deborah. Nope, I was just Debbie – no proper full name for me. Funny thing is, growing up everyone just assumed I was a Deborah, and that I shortened my name.  Nope.

So why didn’t I like my name?

Well, the inherent meaning of my name is: Bee; Honey bee, and the spiritual meaning is: Leader; Leadership.

First, I never saw myself as a leader.  I was more comfortable in the background than in the front.  Mostly because I got into trouble, for being a loud mouth, or the oldest one, or you name it, it didn’t even matter if I did it, I was in trouble.  So, there was no way I wanted to be a leader.

Then there is the whole honey bee thing.  I mean, seriously, my name means honey bee.  I never cared for bees, my dad is deathly allergic to them, and honestly no one chooses a bee to be their favorite animal… Do they?  Being compared to a honey bee in my opinion was so not cool.

Now, don’t get all upset with me, I was only a kid after all, and I didn’t understand the importance nor the significance of a honey bee.  Even when I went to the Women of Faith Conferences and Thelma Wells would talk about bees, and their significance, I would somehow tune her out.  I didn’t want anything to do with the inherent meaning or the spiritual meaning of my name.

Finally, there was the whole Biblical counterpart – Deborah.  The Judge – The Prophetess – she was a strong, determined, and skilled woman.  Appointed by God at a time when women didn’t have much value or great position.  Nope, didn’t want to be compared to her at all.

Why oh why couldn’t my mom have been able to name me something else?

Because God had a hand in naming me.  Oh, my earthly father may have been adamant about my name, but the God of the universe, my Heavenly Father knew me before the foundations of the world were even laid. He saw my unformed body and created me in my mothers womb.  I am pretty certain that he had a hand in naming me too.


People’s names are very significant in the Scriptures. God often changed people’s names to line up with their destiny.   We read in Scripture where Abraham (Abram- Genesis 17:5), Sarah (Sarai – Genesis 17:15), Jacob (Israel – Genesis 32:28), Peter (Simon – John 1:42).  Sometimes God may need to give us a new name just as He did in Scripture.

My name, and yours, has significant meaning to who we are and how God sees us.

Occasionally, when I minister at women’s conferences, I will bring along my copies of The Name Book by Dorothy Astoria, and have the ladies look up the meaning of their name.


Why would I do that?

So they can get a glimpse of the destiny God has for them, and they can understand the true treasure they are.  Sometimes the treasure is hidden inside them, they are not even aware it exists.  I sure didn’t understand the importance of my name and the destiny God had on my life.

That is until one day, when a young women and I were serving at a kids event.  We were using The Name Book, to look up what the children’s names meant and the Scriptures that went with them. The kids were creating pictures with their names and it’s meaning. We then would pray and speak life over them in accordance with their names.

My name as printed in Dorothy’s Name Book:

Deborah, Deb, Debb, Debbi, Debbie, Debbora, Debborah,Debby, Debi, Debora, Deborrah, Debra:

Language/Culture of Origin: Hebrew

Inherent Meaning: Honey Bee

Spiritual Connotation: New Era of Leadership

Scripture: Isaiah 65:17 NKJV For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.

This young girl lady came to me and said she felt like God wanted her to tell me what my name meant.  I laughed and said I already knew, but she insisted I read what she wrote.  As I read what she wrote, I was expecting to read the same ole thing. Instead, she had written that God had called me to be a leader of new things and I needed to see myself the way God sees me.


Wow I was blown away.  Those simple words rocked me to the core.  I had been running from leadership my whole life.   Those simply, profound, yet powerful words got me to see myself differently. Just like the angel did with Gideon.  Gideon was a Mighty Man – A Warrior – A Victorious one.  However, his current life circumstances and days leading up to the angel appearing were causing Gideon to feel defeated, less than, weak, and a victim at the mercy of his enemies.

The day the Angel called out to Gideon, he was awakened to his destiny.  He still felt fearful and had his moments, but the truth of who God saw and needed him to be had been spoken.  The same was true for me that day.  God just used a young woman to open my eyes and cause me to stop running from my destiny.

So what’s in a name?  Everything!

Do you know what your name means?

Can you see how, your name plays a part in the role God has for you?

[1] The Name Book – Dorothy Astoria

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    • Thank you Patti 🙂 Love and hugs back my friend.

  1. Debbie, I remember not liking my name as a child also, and then to find the spiritual name was significant. I think it can become the equivalent of living out expectations when we speak the spiritual names over our children also. It helps identify them with the God who created them. Thanks for this reminder, and for linking up on Fresh Market Friday! I look forward to more posts:)

    • Crystal – I think you have a great point/thought about it being equivalent to living out expectations. Thank you for stopping by today.

  2. Such a powerful post Debbie! I love this..I have been really thinking about Deborah in the Bible..blown away every time I read about her–And Gideon’s story is so appropriate to those of us who question God’s plan for us because we feel inadequate! I’m so glad you’re claiming the deeper meaning of your name and God’s plan for you! So glad I was next door at #testimonytuesday, needed to hear this today!

    • Kathy – – thank you so much for your encouragement about this post. I so needed to hear that today. I am so grateful to have you as my neighbor over at Holly’s #TestimonyTuesday

  3. My name means “full of grace.” I was such a klutz as a child that my mom used to joke that she named me wrong 🙂 I’m still learning how to be graceful, in the spiritual sense of the word!

    • Hannah, I love the meaning of your name, and even though you may have been klutzy as a kid – I am sure you are dispenser of grace and give grace where it is needed the most. Blessings and thank you for stopping by today. 🙂

  4. I love this. I have always had an interest in names. I always encourage people to name their children something with meaning. Since I was Rebecca, I can’t say I was was happy with ” heifer ” as one meaning I read, ” but close to God, or captivating “, I’ll take that. I was usually Becky anyway. I have three cousin with bee names, including a Deborah, which is what she goes by, but she’s still Debbie to me. Everyone gets teased, but I doubt if I’d like Little Debbie, but I like Swiss Rolls.

    • Rebecca – thanks so much, as I was reading your comment I was chuckling out load – I am so glad you can relate to my dilemma… I guess been is better than “heifer” … You know, I did get teased about little Debbie occasionally, you are right good snacks. but not so great for a nickname… Oh, and to make matters worse, when I played softball my nick name was Big Mac – ugh because I was the oldest and my sister little Mac – Mac being in reference to our last name no one could ever pronounce…. I mean Bg Mac – not so great a reference Heather – but delicious. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by today.

  5. I loved this. Just more proof that God has a hand in every detail of our lives. He knew us before He formed us in the womb. I never really liked my name, think I will take a closer look at it again. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Mindy – Yes, God sure is in every detail. It’s funny how we didn’t like our names growing up. Your meaning is a beautiful one… Your inherent meaning is: Sweet as Honey and the Spiritual Connotation is: Genuine. Scripture is Revelation 10:10 Thanks for stopping by

  6. Love this. I have always enjoyed the meaning of names and how important they are to God. He never misses a detail! God has such a beautiful way of expressing His truth into our lives; what a wonderful way He did with yours. I love that Gideon’s name means tree cutter because his first task by God was to cut down the Asherah poles (just another detail on his victory). 🙂

    • Sharon – you are so right, God does have a beautiful way of expressing His truth in our lives…. and YES – you are absolutely correct about Gideon cutting down the asherah pole… I should have mentioned that one… great catch 🙂 Have an awesome day.

  7. How fun to read this post since I am a Deborah. I linked up right next to you at Coffee for Your Heart with Holley Gerth.

    I’m so intrigued that this is the post I’m beside. 🙂

    I never minded my name growing up. My middle name is Janelle and my older sister is Jill and my younger brother is Jordan and there are times I wished my first name was Janelle so we would all start with J. 🙂

    You have me thinking about names and destinies now. My mother wanted to name me Janelle Esther but my dad preferred Deborah and that’s what they decided on.

    I love the story of Gideon and I have pondered the story of Deborah some since that is my name.

    Blessings on you today!

    • Deborah – it is so great the way God works out even the smallest of details, like us being neighbors at Holley’s. I can totally understand why you would have wanted to match your siblings with a J first name – I am glad to have got you thinking – and I highly encourage you to check out your names and how they are linked to your destiny! My mom wanted to name me Darci 🙂 blessings to you as well.

  8. Debbie, I guess we all had those times when we wanted our name to be something else. I wanted to be Dawn instead of Donna. It sounded more exotic to me, I guess.

    Thanks for making us think about God’s hand in giving us the names we have and thanks for linking up on Mondays @ Soul Survival. Blessings!

    • Donna – You are most welcome, and I am glad to hear I wasn’t alone in wanting to be called something different. – thank you for stopping by 🙂

  9. How very cool, Debbie! I think our names are definitely predetermined by God and are meaningful as to what He has planned for us. I know what you went through with your maiden name, as my married name no one can pronounce correctly lol! Thanks so much for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

    • Thank you Kelly! I am so glad someone else can relate to the last name dilemma too 🙂 I appreciate you always taking the time to stop by each and every week. Blessings upon blessings!

  10. My youngest two children are Grace and Grant. I have always loved how their names fit together like a prayer. Grant us grace in our lives, Lord. Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup.

    • Leslie – I love how their names fit together as well. I really like how you think about them as a prayer. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  11. This is crazy! LOL You were living the destiny your name described, but you didn’t know it! That’s incredible.

    It’s so hard to choose a name for your baby. We went through a ton of ideas, as all parents do, and criteria for choosing our children’s names, but I’m not sure that I thought about the meaning behind them. It will be interesting to see if the kids develop into their names.

    My name is Nikki, just Nikki. All my life people assumed I was Nicole, I mean what parents in the late 60s named their child Nikki? LOL One advantage, I was the only Nikki in my class, or for several years after me too. Of course I had to look up the meaning of my name after I read this. The Latin meaning of my name is “Of the Lord” and the Greek meaning is “Goddess of Victory”. Not sure I’m living up to either of those, but I like that I have something to work for!

    • Nikki — It is so hard to choose baby names, especially when there are two people involved – and wow, let’s not mention all the opinions from family and friends thrown in. hahaha. Yes, I am very interested to see how your children and mine develop into their names as well.

      Oh, and your name, in my name book the spiritual connotation is … wait for it … Overcomer! Scripture is Rev 2:7 — You are an overcomer! I see it and I am sure others see it too. I pray you see yourself that was as well. I mean, I know I have never met you in person, but from reading your blog and conversations via comments we have had, I can see it. You are a go getter – an overcomer – a take the bull by the horns – get ‘er done woman! life may throw everything out you, but you still fight back and come out an overcomer! … o, and I just had to tell you, My best friend for many of my growing up and into High School years was a girl named Nicki – then she moved away, and we lost touch. 🙁 it was sad, but we had some fantastic times, got in lots of trouble together, and I have some great memories.


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