Beyond a “Selfie” Mindset

A selfie we took while visiting several national parks out west

Visiting several national parks a few years ago, including the Grand Canyon, I took lots of pictures. Others were doing the same. What I noticed was that a great many people were getting in the way of their own pictures! They were taking “selfies” as they’ve come to be called. The idea is that you find a beautiful scene, turn your back to the scene, stretch out your hand that holds your camera, focus the camera on yourself with a bit of the background visible behind you and take the picture.

Yes, my wife and I also took a few pictures with ourselves in the scene. You want a few record shots giving proof that you were there.

But these days selfies seem to be the norm rather than the exception. For most of my life I’ve been a serious photographer and never really thought about photo bombing my own pictures. In fact, I don’t recall people getting in the way of their own picture taking until recently. This made me curious. When did the idea of the selfie come about? Quick research revealed that the word “selfie” was designated the word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries in 2013. In 2014 Time Magazine named the selfie stick one of the top inventions of the year. So it turns out the selfie is a recent development.

What does that say about us? What does it say about us when we want to be the main subject in a photo of the Grand Canyon?

Actually, I’m not surprised by the popularity of the selfie. Having been a life-long student of the Bible, a pastor for 40 years, and attempting to see myself honestly, I know that it’s part of our sinful human nature to be self-centered.

Even though you and I may not take many selfies, that doesn’t mean we don’t put the focus on ourselves. Want proof? When we view a group photo of which we’re a part, who’s the first person we look for in the photo? No, we may not shoot many selfies, but whatever circumstances frame our day we tend to put our self front and center in the picture.

Ironically, and this I also know from a life-long study of the Bible, from pastoring, and from personal experience, life is most fulfilling when we keep the focus off ourselves and on God and the people He’s put around us. Tim Keller gives good advice on this subject, “I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness.” (The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness)

Let’s get out of our own way! Picture life as something other than a selfie!

“Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

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