Wednesday, October 31, 2012


It seems to be built into the DNA of our lives; everything has to have a nametag. Think about it, when you go someplace where there are a lot of people, they give you a nametag. I recently attended several conferences and part of each online registration was to enter my nametag name. When I arrived at the conference, I was given a personalized nametag along with a lanyard (where do they come up with these names.) I’m greeted at business meetings with a handshake, a cup of coffee and a nametag.

We teach this to our children, both at home and in school; everything has to have their name on it. We put nametags on everything; our luggage, backpacks, laptops, iPads, golf bags, you name it. When entering our church, everyone writes their name on a nametag and slaps it on. Not only is it the law to have a nametag on our dog, she also has a computer chip under the skin in her left shoulder that has my name on it for the next time she runs away (which, unfortunately, she is prone to do).

Every time I’m in Seattle, I buy a fresh Salmon filet and surrounded it with gel packs to keep it fresh. Even though I carry it home on the plane, I always put a nametag on it just in case someone gets the idea to try and heist my prized salmon. Don’t laugh, one flight attendant tried to walk-off with my salmon under the guise that they were going to put it in the refrigerator for my benefit. Yea right, do I look like I was born yesterday?

On one memorable occasion, I was not permitted to carry the fish on-board  being left with no other option, I checked it as luggage. You guessed it; the airline lost my luggage and my salmon. Almost 36 hours after getting home, I got a call at 2:30 in the morning from an unbelievably happy airline employee, announcing that my luggage was ready. You can appreciate my lack than enthusiastic response. I tried to remain awake and civil as I informed them that I’d come to the airport sometime after sunrise. With almost giddy energy they said that due to my superior status with the airline, they personally rushed my delayed luggage to me in a taxi, and that it was in front of my house that very minute. All I had to do was open the door and sign for it.

Now I don’t know about you, but the prospects of getting dressed in the middle of the night to receive a stinking piece of fish that cost me about $20 a pound was not very motivating. By this time I had made enough noise to wake Mary Ann so I reluctantly agreed. Throwing something on and stumbling downstairs, I opened the door only to be greeted by the taxi driver who looked like he had not changed, shaved or showered in three days, was smoking a rather large cigar and had my salmon tightly wedged high under his noxious left armpit. Holding my breath I thanked him, signed for the salmon and closed the door.

As I stood there for a moment, I wondered what I was going to do with this incredibly expensive piece of plant fertilizer. I know that the Pilgrims were taught by Indians to place some fish in the ground as they planted corn, but I don't think the Wampanoag Indians taught William Bradford nor Myles Standish to use $20-a-pound pacific salmon as fertilizer. Un-wrapping my precious cargo; it felt cool to the touch. Could it be? Could there been a miracle (even with the involvement of an airline) and the salmon was still edible? Mary Ann just looked at me, shook her head in disbelief and returned to the sanity of sleep. But not me, I had to find out and right then and there. Taking the salmon to our kitchen, I sliced off a piece and put it directly under my nose; it didn't stink. Heating a small pan I sautéed it in butter until just done. Screwing up my courage I put a small piece in my mouth and slowly began to chew. It tasted great. Just to be sure I took another bite, and another, and another.  As I savored the salmon I was thankful that it had a nametag on it, allowing even an airline to return it to its rightful owner (albeit aged).

I recently experienced another nametag moment, but this one was more serious and moving. A young man was checking out at the grocery store, but he carefully went through the items in his cart, putting the more important items out first. After so many items were rung up, he bowed his head and explained to the cashier that he only had so much money so he needed to know how much he had spent. The cashier was very kind and quietly worked with the young man as he put up a few more items until all his money was spent. As the cashier began to total his purchases, a number of items were left in his cart that he could not afford. Seeing the event and dialogue unfold, a stranger next in line offered to pay for the remaining items. Both the young man and cashier were really moved and thanked them for their generosity and this “random act of kindness”. Receiving their thanks, the stranger put a nametag on his generosity by quietly saying, “Jesus has been so kind to me that I just have to share his love with everyone, starting right here and now with you.” The young man was very thankful; the cashier broke down, cried and exclaimed that this was the best thing she ever experienced at work.

Now I’m not against “random acts of kindness” but there is a big difference when you put a nametag on what you do, giving a reason and motivation. Jesus put a big nametag on his words, actions and miracles by saying that he was doing the same things that God the Father was doing [1]. There was no missing the point, Jesus claimed to be equal with God and those listening to him got the message loud and clear [2].

What nametag are we putting on our lives? What nametag will people be reading through our words, thoughts, actions and attitudes? Who will people think about when they are near us? Jesus gave himself for us, challenging us to live daily for him, putting his nametag on our lives.

Blessings – Chet

Chet Gladkowski speaks and writes on topics that touch on culture, life and faith. This article is taken from a chapter in his upcoming book

[1] John 5:19
[2] John 5:16-18

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