The word “Selfie” first popped up in an Australian chat room on September 13, 2002, to describe an undignified scene. For years after its birth, “selfie” crept through the web largely unnoticed. But in 2012, the word of the year began its ascent to digital fame. By August 2013, Oxford proclaimed it a real English-language word and gave it a place in the dictionary — but that was merely a stepping stone to lingual infamy. “Selfie” beat out seven competitors, including “twerk,” “schmeat” (synthetically produced meat) and “bitcoin” for the Word of the Year crown.
What is the meaning of “Selfie?” Selfie is:
“A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smart phone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
I often thought it was something that kids did until I saw Presidents and Heads of state do it at a funeral. Sorry, I did not mean to sound too self-righteous. I have taken selfies of myself – innocent snapshots hanging with my family, celebrating and creating digital memories to enjoy when I am old. Comically, I have also taken snapshots of my food. Don’t ask me why!
But sometimes, sometimes, my selfies are just for show. Sometimes, they are just to show off what I’m doing, who I’m with or where I am – and that is the problem. That is where I need discernment. That’s where I need to keep my heart in check. Am I being narcissistic? Do I crave constant attention and admiration from others? Am I self-absorbed and have a sense of entitlement and grandiosity?
It doesn’t matter if I am shaking hands with the Pope or the President, how I intend use my selfie matters. It doesn’t matter if I am dinning with the King of Swaziland or having a humble dinner at my local Burger King, how I intend of my selfie matters. It doesn’t matter how expensive, fancy or trendy the clothes I’m wearing are, it matters I am wearing something suitable for a selfie. Am I simply trying to tell a story, make others smile, or am I just too self-absorbed?
As a pastor, it is crucial for me to motivate my congregation to dream big and expect great or greater things from God in the New Year. However, the temptation at this time of the year to hand out what I might call, “prophetic selfies” – for a lack of better words, is real. You know, the ones that sound like:
- “this year is your year of financial increase
- “this year is your year of significant achievement
- “this year is your year of promotion, advancement and break-through
- “this year is your year of victorious, self-actualization and wonderfulness
I am longing to hear “So long self.” Welcome Servant-hood
How about 2014 – a year of service to God and Humanity? A year to make his name famous. A year of a little less of me and more of him. A year where “others” are first. A year where I think of myself less and not think less of myself. A year where humility beats pride. A year where selflessness trumps selfishness. A year where it’s not about me but about him. A year to bring him glory. A year “He must increase and I decrease.” A year we can say, “you know, I’ve had fun with this “selfie” thing, but I have to move on – farewell, goodbye – so long self (ie).”
Happy Selfless New Year Everyone!