The Secret Power Of Selfies

How To Make Them Matter

I recently preached at my favorite church. The topic? Selfies.

To illustrate the topic, I borrowed a friend’s selfie stick. Because I obviously don’t own a selfie stick.

Anymore.

Since mine broke from overuse.

I held my phone close to my face – you know, one of those phones that you can also use to call people, if that’s something you still do. I said, from this distance, all you can really see in the frame is me.

And to be honest, it doesn’t make for a very interesting picture.

I suppose you could try to zoom in for greater detail to make it a little more interesting – wow, his skin is really oily right now. Or, I wonder what that scar is from?

But that’s about as intriguing as it’s going to get from this distance.

If I hold my camera out a little further before I snap the pic, I can squeeze in a couple of friends. We might then take several pictures together and I will post the one most flattering of me, because hey, we used my phone.

Then I said to the audience (or “congregation”, if that feels churchier to you): “But if I put my phone on the selfie stick and extend it as far as it will go…and then reach my arm out as far as it will go…(at this point, I turned my back to them)…there’s just about enough room for all of us in the picture.”

I then snapped a selfie of me with a few hundred of my besties.

My point was obvious (though I rambled on for another 20 minutes anyway).

If there’s only room in the frame of my life for ME, the story of my life won’t be very interesting. Or satisfying. Or compelling – to me or anyone else.

But if I make space for others to fit in the frame of my life, the story of my life can get really good.

As a final illustration, I threw up a selfie-style picture of my friend, Bob.

bob goff selfie 1

Bob is a famous author and humanitarian and is living some of the best stories I’ve ever heard. We’re friends because we once had lunch together and because I have his cell phone number.

To be clear, I had lunch with Bob because his host that day was a friend of mine (a friend who once brought Don Miller to see me…in my office…but that’s another story). This generous and well-connected friend hosted lunch for Bob and a bunch of other folks, and he invited Katie and I to join them.

Oh, and I have Bob’s cell number because he put it at the back of his best-selling book. So maybe you have it, too. But so what. I’m over it.

I told the congregation/audience/crowd/throng of worshippers that Bob always takes a great picture because he has a great smile, but despite his great smile, the picture wasn’t super interesting.

Then I zoomed out to reveal the rest of the picture.

bob goff selfie 2

This is Bob and some of his friends. Bob and his team have built several schools in Uganda and a few other places (there’s even one in Iraq!) that serve kids without families.

It’s a lot more interesting picture. It’s a more satisfying picture. It’s a picture that inspires me and reminds me there’s a whole lot more to my story than me, me, me.

What was the key difference between the two pictures?

The second one simply had more room in the frame for others.

The throng got it. They always do. They’re a bunch of Bob-like folks who have graciously included me in their shot.

So I finished my sermon like I finish all my sermons: by dropping the mic and strutting off the stage to “Jesus Walks”.

I snuck back later to retrieve the selfie stick. In case, you know, I needed it for something.

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