Saturday, May 1, 2004 10:08 AM CDT
We were stepping into a Christmas party years ago, when my friend Ray said, "Listen you guys.
As we move through the party tonight, notice how many times we hear people begin their sentences with the personal
pronoun, 'I'." You know who the first person I heard use the word "I" was? You got it folks: me. That's who!
But I must admit Ray was right on. Everyone is self- possessed. We begin sentences like that because, surprise,
surprise, we are the center of our Universe. That's where it begins and that's where it ends, and, in my case,
'cuz I can only speak for me. That ain't a very big space to fill. One of the blessings of the "C" word is that
it gives you time to think between throwing up and blood tests. You've got to think. I'm convinced it's one of
the reasons God allows us to be sick sometimes, because we have to think about what counts. And some of us just
won't slow down on our own long enough to let that happen.
Well, Ray was right to ask and point us in that interesting direction that night. I have to
say it changed my life. Yes, everyone in the room began most sentences with the personal pronoun, "I". At first
it was amusing. Then it became troublesome, almost offensive. I got upset with myself, which is probably exactly
what Ray wanted me to do in the first place. Because as my mentor in ministry he was always disciplining me one
way or the other. I was his project, you might say. Just before his retirement I became his final formal project,
then God said you can quit. Fix this kid and you can rest. God how I loved him for trying. Ray was the best man
I've ever known. He would be the first to say he started too many sentences with, "I". But he was the one who
thought about it. He was the one who got others to think about it. And in his name I pass it on to you. The
Rev. Raymond E. Beckering, D.D. was a Prince who knew a healthy ego from one of grandiose self-absorption. He
was the best. Not I.