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Why do People Change Their Names? By Marilyn L. Donnellan

The Power of a Name

A friend has decided to change her name. Why? Not because she got married or was forced to enter the witness protection program but because she believes her new name better expresses who she is today. Is this simply an expression of a generation or something much deeper?

Name changes are nothing new. We find them in the Bible, too. 

  1.  Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:1-15) – God changed their names from Abram and Sarai to indicate His covenant with them and their descendants.
  2.  Jacob (Genesis 32:28) – After an overnight wrestle with God, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, “He who strives with God.”
  3.  Simon (John 1:42) – Jesus gives Simon the name Peter, “the rock,” a name he had to grow into after betraying Him.

In all four of these cases, there were dramatic and specific reasons for the name changes made by God.


Today’s generation’s name changes are not about spiritual conversions or covenants with God but most often come from individuals’ deep-seated failures to accept who they are. The same insecurities and poor self-images are at the root of the trans movement. The truth is a positive self-image and sense of self-worth have little to do with name or gender. No matter how often they are changed, the individual will continue to struggle with identity issues unless there is an inward spiritual transformation.


When I cannot see myself as a unique and valuable creation of God but instead want to be someone else, I am ignoring the fact I am already created in God’s image. The original sin was because Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan’s lie when he said, “You will be like God” (Gen. 3). They forgot they were already like God, created in His image. They thought they needed more.


In the same way, today’s name changes and the trans movement are attempts to be or become someone other than their created self. Without a sin-cleansing relationship with Jesus Christ, I will look for self-validation in things or idols: gender, name, money, fame, achievements, beauty, etc.


As leaders, we must guide followers into a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ based on every individual’s value and worth through Him. We must teach them that superficial changes will not lead to long-term satisfaction or contentment.

“I am a unique and valuable child of God, specially created by Jesus Christ to accomplish His plan and purpose, in love, through the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.

~ Two Faces of Me by M.L. Donnellan,


Marilyn L. Donnellan, MS, has over 35 years of experience as a nonprofit CEO, consultant, and trainer. She has published over 60 books, guides, and training videos in over a dozen countries.

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