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10 Ways to Be Selfless in a “Selfie” Culture

10 Ways to Be Selfless in a “Selfie” Culture

Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar night “selfie,” taken with a gang of A-list celebrities, was retweeted 870,000 times that night, becoming the most shared tweet ever. British Prime Minister David Cameron's “selfie” of his phone call to President Obama sparked an onslaught of parodies from mocking celebrities around the world.

Like it or not, the “selfie” is a part of our society. A recent survey finds that nearly half of U.S. adults have taken a selfie. Odds are, you are one of them, as I am.

The “selfie” has made a tremendous cultural impact, so much so that Oxford Dictionaries named “selfie” the 2013 word of the year. Who can blame them? Last year alone, use of the word (and the likely the practice) went up an astounding 17,000 percent.

This isn't necessarily a new phenomenon. Self-portraits have been in existence since the invention of photography. But, with the dawn of social media, we now live in a world were self-value lies in the size of your digital network…and in getting reaction to those “selfies.”

While it can seem relatively harmless, there's definitely a part of the “selfie” phenomenon that makes us think of words like “narcissism” and “self-obsession.” In this social media age, even if we don't take photos of ourselves, we are all guilty of being overly self-promotional at times and inadvertently (if not on purpose) linking our self-worth to likes, shares and comments. Our identity becomes defined by how many friends and followers we have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and how they respond to our posts.

The problem is not the self-portrait. The problem is our sin nature. The problem is our self-centeredness.

In the office, our “selfie” mindset makes many of us quick to seek face-time with the bosses so they know who we are and what we do. We take credit for things we weren't solely responsible for, or we step on others to increase our domain. We become name-droppers if we feel it will make us look more important. We will criticize another if it keeps us from a difficult situation.

For job-seekers, having a self-focus is nearly mandatory, as you are pitching yourself and your attributes to a potential employer. Your only hope is the opportunity for a face-to-face interview so your true personality can shine through.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). But, often in the corporate environment, the meek are viewed as weak and passed over for promotions. How do we fight the urge to join in the world's “selfie” parade (online and in the office) when it seems to fly in the face of Biblical teaching?

Here are a 10 ways we can challenge ourselves to avoid a “selfie” mindset in the workplace:

1. Learn how to be truly empathetic. Empathy means that you understand another person's feelings or emotions. How would our corporate environments differ if we all truly sought to understand our colleagues?

2. When you start to have a “selfie” mindset, flip the script: think about others. “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

3. When your boss praises you, share the credit. Regardless of what it is, you didn't do it by yourself. Everyone has help along the way.

4. When your boss criticizes you, take the blame. Even if it's not all your fault, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Protect your colleagues publicly and go to them privately.

5. Tie your self-worth to Jesus, not man. He’s the one for whom you are working. (Reread Colossians 3:23)

6. Promote something bigger than yourself, not yourself. God uses insignificant people to accomplish things they could never do on their own. We are so small, in the grand scheme of things.

7. Focus on the big picture, not the small problems. Don’t get bogged down in the trees and miss the forest.

8. Set your eyes on the goal, not how you might benefit in the process. The end is more important than the means, particularly what the “means” means to you.

9. Realize your coworkers are sinners like you. We all make mistakes, don’t we?

10. Realize your coworkers are loved by God, like you. We are all in need of grace, aren’t we?

To be clear, this isn’t about taking self-portraits. This is about elevating self over others or God. We worry entirely too much about lifting up ourselves, when we know the Bible teaches “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Let’s decrease ourselves together.

Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at You can also follow him on Twitter.

Publication date: March 27, 2014