Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nose-Picking Preachers - The Use of Me and I

AAAAARRRGH! I can't believe I am ranting about this again. There is hardly a day goes by that I don't hear it several times. And it is bad enough when people do this in casual conversation but when professional orators, radio hosts, and newscasters can't get it right, it is especially annoying.

I am reprinting this rant, once again, because it is so irritating to me. So pay attention; I am going to say something here that most people will never mention because they are too polite or forgiving to tell you the truth. Nevertheless, whenever you commit this blunder there are lots of people who cringe at the least or think you are an ignoramus at worst.

The word is “me,” for cryin’ out loud. It’s “me, Me, ME.” Get it?

I don’t know why so many college-educated, degree holding professional communicators act like they were too busy doing lunch to show up for grammar school. And it is especially annoying when schoolteachers can’t get it right. After all, they're teaching our kids. What are we supposed to think? This is one of the simplest, basic rules of elementary grammar and one of the easiest to get right so pay attention. THE WORD IS “ME.” It is not “I” or even “myself.” IT IS “ME!”

Now here's a word of advice for anyone (especially preachers) who wants to verbally communicate something of substance or importance to an audience. The rule is, use “I” if it is the subject and “me” if it is the object of a preposition. Never use "I" after a preposition. Never, NEVER, NEVER say “I” when the WORD IS “ME!”

Why does it matter? Let me use a real-life illustration.  We have all, at one time or another, attended a children's musical presentation in a church. And I remember the night this really happened.  The children and their director were sincere and hopeful that the audience's attention might be directed to God in their singing.  All it took was one little “nose picker” in the front row to distract the entire audience. At that point, it didn’t matter how much they had practiced or how well they did, suddenly all attention was diverted from the object of our worship to the object in the kid’s nose.

I am serious about this. You have something to say and, I believe, you really want your audience to hear it. Do you think your presentation is necessary? Is it relevant? Is it important?  Do you want the people to pay attention to the substance of your message? Of course, you do. So then why would you interject something so irritating and distracting to the ears of your hearers that they would miss your point?

And preachers, you do this all the time. You spend a lot of time reading, studying, praying, and preparing for your message to the people. You recognize that, as the oracle of God, you have a personal responsibility to speak His Words after Him. You believe that your message, if it is truly scriptural, is the message that God wants to use in the hearts and minds of His people. You understand the importance of minimizing yourself and directing everyone’s full attention to the magnification and glory and praise of God. And then, suddenly, you distract their attention away from Him and His Word with one little irritating grammatical faux pas.

You will be passionately waxing eloquent on the merits of a loving God or the work of Christ in salvation. We will be listening intently. The Spirit of God is penetrating hearts and minds. And then you will personalize it with something like, “…this is what God requires of you and I,” or “…He did it all for you and I.”

At that point, you have lost me and everyone else who cringes at your colloquial slaughtering of the language. Whatever you were trying to communicate is not reaching my mind because I have been suddenly distracted by your figurative “nose picking.”

P.S. If you are irritated or offended by this article, please forgive I.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Co-Pilot

As I travel down the roads of life, he is always there beside me to guide me. Without him I would be lost. When I listen to his voice and heed his instructions, I always end up in the right place. But he never forces his direction on me and whenever I go astray or make a wrong turn, he just quietly makes necessary course adjustments and gently leads me back onto the right path. And then, when I go the right way he praises me and lets me know what a great job I've done.

He is Homer Simpson and his voice guides me on my new GPS device. Listen to the samples here:

It sure makes driving fun.