For example, in my current job as the pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church, I sometimes find myself saying, "I've ONLY been here for four months." That sounds like some pretty good cover when someone wonders why I haven't changed very much yet.
I used to say, "I'm ONLY five feet, seven inches tall." I guess I thought that people wouldn't notice until I pointed out to them that I am short. Or perhaps it was a defense mechanism; if I voiced the fact that I was short, if I claimed it, then we could move on to the more important things in life - such as what kind of person I am, what things I like to do, and will I take the last slice of pizza or leave it for someone else.
When I was a classroom teacher and I had to listen to some "expert" explain the latest and greatest thing that would transform our school into a bright and shining light in the education world, I used to say, "I am ONLY a classroom teacher." That implied that I understood clearly how insignificant my role was in overall school reform; I could ONLY change or control my own actions and those in my classroom...I couldn't change the world, my state, my city, my school district, or even my own school.
All of this bothers me a great deal now. Hiding behind the safe, secure, low-expectations of the word ONLY is the coward's way out. That is not what we are called to be or to do.
Jesus told us to GO into the world and make disciples. Jesus told us to GO and preach the Good News. He didn't qualify those statements. He didn't say, "I only want the bold, the brave, the tall, and the good-looking." He certainly didn't choose that type of individual when he chose his own Apostles. He just said, "Go."
So, I think the only proper use of the word ONLY should be:
"Jesus is the ONLY Lord of my life!"