By THE SET APART GIRL TEAM
You see it everywhere – the push for self-promotion. Ads for clothing, beauty products, cars, food, you name it, all scream, “If you have this, you will get all the attention you crave! Your insecurities will be thrown to the wind and you’ll be happier than ever!” Or, “Just be who you are! Don’t let the opinions of others hinder you. Say what you want, do what you want, be who you are!” And the effects of this are everywhere. It can be as large scale as becoming a famous celebrity from a YouTube video, or as subtle as seeking a self-esteem boost from a selfie posted on Instagram. Now, posting videos or photos of yourself on YouTube, Instagram, or any other social media outlet isn’t necessarily wrong. It all goes back to motive. Why do I want to post this photo? Why do I want people to see this video? Is it so that I will receive praise and gain a few minutes of fame? Or is it so that God will be glorified? Even a picture of a flower with a Bible verse underneath, if done with wrong intentions, won’t honor the Lord. It may seem very spiritual, but if your heart isn’t right, it is actually dishonoring to Him. Self-promotion under the guise of spirituality is just as wrong as blatantly seeking praise for yourself and is dangerous territory to be in.
Each of us has to lay this area before the Lord, knowing that in and of ourselves, we cannot bring Him the praise He is worthy of. Our natural inclination will always be to draw the attention back to ourselves. But by His transforming power, as we seek Him and allow Him to change and sanctify us, we can honor Him with every photo, video, and tweet we post. And when we do receive those nice comments and approving “likes,” they can be used to encourage us and evoke greater thankfulness to the Lord for His goodness.
The famous words in the book of John, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” stand in stark contrast to our modern culture and our fleshly desire for self-promotion. We have to realize that the flesh is always seeking an opportunity to aggrandize and exalt “self” in our lives, and it will use any platform to gratify that desire for attention. The Christian’s life is one that says: “May I never seek a platform for self, but may I become a platform for Christ to be seen.”
Our culture’s infatuation with the infamous selfie is one of the clearest examples of the constant urge to place ourselves on the throne of our lives. While there’s nothing wrong with sharing special moments of your life with loved ones via social media, many girls have exchanged meaningful and healthy encouragement, which actual, face-to-face interaction brings, for a shallow and false sense of acceptance and approval. “Likes” and flattering (yet, often shallow) comments can never replace sincere, edifying relationships in our lives. When we gauge our security by the baseline of how much online attention one of our selfies garners, we are cheating ourselves into thinking that true significance is found in such shallow waters.
A woman redeemed by the precious blood of Christ finds significance, security, and value in the love of her King – not in putting every detail of her life on display.
While you don’t have to look very far for a way to promote yourself, let us be women who instead seek ways and platforms to promote Christ! Instead of seeking a stage to display self, seek to become a stage whereupon Jesus might display His beauty to the world!
Have you ever heard of Lucille Ball? She was the spunky redheaded comedienne from the popular “I Love Lucy” TV show in the 1950’s. A trend-setting actress known for her wit and charm, Lucille Ball won the hearts of the American public — back then and even still today.
When I recently came across a decoratively scripted Lucille Ball quote, it caught my eye. She said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” As I thought about Lucille Ball’s statement, I realized how it precisely fits with the modern “love yourselfie” movement. (YES, it’s a whole movement!)
There are webpages, TV specials, Facebook groups, artistic posters, and more, all devoted to the “love yourselfie” movement. Part of “loving yourselfie” is to embrace and glorify who you are, sharing “yourselfie” with the world via selfies. (Self-captured smart phone photos of the one and only. . . you!) Whether it is an ordinary or an exciting moment of your life – share it! And now, it’s considered a new art form that has “awakened” grown men and women, Christian and un-Christian alike, to the “fulfillment” and “freedom” that can be found in flaunting themselves.
As followers of Christ, we should understand that if something is rooted and based in the exaltation of self, rather than Jesus Christ, then it deserves no place in our lives. However, this simple Gospel understanding is one that has somehow escaped hearts and minds of even sweet and well-meaning “Christians” — especially “Christian” girls. However, it is time that the truth is brought to bear upon the “selfie” and we begin to expose this modern trend for what it really is . . . selfishness.
Selfies are an evidence of being self-absorbed as we share every mundane photo-detail of ourselves and our lives with everyone we know. Selfies are also a sign that an individual has spent a bit too much time thinking about themselves and just how they ought to pose for that perfectly flattering iPhone photo.They communicate a desperate plea for attention and ache for approval from others that will never be gained through a “like” or a few flattering comments. The danger of the selfie is giving sway to our natural, selfish nature that aims to garner praise to self rather than to Jesus Christ.
Clarifying Note: I am not suggesting that we use terribly awkward and unflattering photos of ourselves for profile pictures. Nor am I suggesting that it is sinful to take a picture of yourself to send to your Mom. Photo sharing can be done tastefully and tactfully. I’m speaking directly to the fad of obsessive selfie taking and posting via social media.
If you have been a partaker in this self-lauding trend, instead of asking “What’s the harm of it?” I’d challenge you to be very blunt with yourself. With each photo you post – pause and consider this question – “What is the point of it?” Is it to show off your stylish taste? Or to share your dashing good looks? Perhaps in hopes that a “certain someone” happens to stumble upon it? Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any way that you may have wandered from a God-honoring path in your use of social media and networking. Leave “yourselfie” in the dust and walk forward in God’s strength, seeking to honor Him in how you walk out this area of your life.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like are grounds upon which we can stand for Christ as a witness to the Truth—but that will not be accomplished by following the trends of our culture and posting self-absorbed glamour shots. When you choose to post a photo, instead of seeking to draw eyes to yourself, may each photo be worth a thousand words to testify of a young woman completely consumed with Jesus Christ. . . not “herselfie.”
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. Galatians 2:20
. . .Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. Philippians 1:20
I have Facebook. I also have Instagram. And with family living thousands of miles away, I post quite a few photos. Yes, they are usually of my little boy, Jude, but there are occasional appearances of other subjects.
One way I can often tell if I am slipping toward self-focus is by how many times I go back and check for “likes” and comments, especially if I happen to be in the picture. Although the original intent of the post was pure-hearted, there are those subtle thoughts that creep in see if anyone noticed that my hair style turned out particularly well, or the camera angle is unusually flattering! In those moments, I have to choose to die to the desire to be noticed and praised. Not only am I wanting glory for myself, but I am becoming distracted and wasting time on it as well! If someone does comment, so be it. But I must never allow prideful or self-focused thoughts to result because of them.
If I find that I have a check in my spirit about the motive of a picture I am about to post or a status I’m about to write, it’s better not to post it at all. I have never regretted erring on the side of caution.
When I do post things I know I shouldn’t have, there is the temptation to wallow in guilt—kicking myself over and over for my foolishness. But what God desires is that we heed His conviction, repent of our wrong, and trust that as we continue to seek Him, He will give us a greater sensitivity to His Spirit. And we can be sure that as we walk with Jesus, He will give us wisdom to know how to wield the realm of social media for His glory!