Thursday, August 28, 2014

"I Gotta Be Me?"

photo by Ferda Hejl / flickr

 Ever heard this story—it’s priceless. The preacher Tom Long told it first. After church was over and everyone was filing out a little boy looked around at all the empty space. He started running all over the room and then ran up on the platform—saw the mike—said something and discovered the mike was still on. He began jumping up and down and yelling into the mike, “Mommy, Mommy—look at me. Look at me!” One member standing in the back observed, “ I think I’ve heard this sermon before.”

We’ve all heard this sermon before: “Look at me! Look at me!” Sometimes the “I’s” just take over the preacher. We minister-types know all about the spotlight—every Sunday we mount the platform steps and stand before the mike and begin to talk. Those of us reverends that are retired miss those Sunday mornings. I laugh sometimes and say: “God only calls ego-maniacs.” But deep in our hearts we know that if we enjoy the spotlight too much—it really spoils what we are trying to say. They don’t want to know about our family, our dog, our vacation or any story that makes us the hero.

We’ve all heard this sermon before. “Look at me! Look at me!” Maybe those of us that focus on the “I’s” are simply reflecting the rest of the culture. Christopher Elliott of USA Today tells about a recent flight that was diverted because someone on board suffered a severe asthma attack. After making an unexpected landing, an irate passenger made a beeline toward the flight attendants treating the sick passenger, demanding the plane take off immediately. “This is ruining my vacation,” she screamed. Because the woman refused to return to her seat she was expelled from the plane. Most of the other passengers cheered as she was dragged her off the plane.

 Experts say in times of high anxiety selfishness seems to be worse. And we are living in a time when the thermostat had just about gone off the charts. “Me first” seems to be everywhere. Unmannerly drivers, honking the horn and cursing at some other driver out there. Parents demanding that Johnny and Suzie have special privileges. Church members who tell the Pastor that if the church doesn’t do something they want—they are out the door. They are simply trying to hold the church hostage. Ever heard anyone say: “My needs are just being met.” Chances are that marriage or any other relationship is on shaky ground. Whatever happened to commitment?

Years ago Harry Golden wrote for the Carolina Israelite. Wonderful writer. One column was called: “Was isn’t Johnny happy?” The whole article was about parents who worried about little Johnny wasn’t happy.” Golden went on to say little Johnny is not the center of the universe. He needed to realize there are other
Lawrence OP / flickr

people in the world—and that scowl or those pursed lips won’t get you to the head of the line. At home. At school. Church. Anywhere.

Watch the pronouns. If we hear “I” too, too much—most of us tune them out. But when some one says: “You”, or “We” or Us”—we perk up our ears.  Maybe John the Baptist loved the spotlight as well as anybody. But when people came clapping and cheering him on he reminded the crowd, “He (Jesus) must increase—I must decrease.” Maybe that’s why he occupies such a prominent place in the New Testament. He got out of the way and let the light shine where it should.

We’ve all heard the sermon before:” Look at me! Look at me!” So let’s watch our pronouns wherever we go—they might just save the day and make our little circle a little better.

                              --Roger Lovette /

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