Last year, I read an interesting article with the title, Photobombing Jesus. The article began with a definition of photobomb. It means, “to spoil a photograph by appearing in the camera’s field of view as a picture is taken.” If you still don’t understand the meaning, ask any teenager with a cell phone. They will be happy to demonstrate for your education.
The article was about a pastor who lamented the beginning of his ministry. He attempted to outshine Jesus. It started with his testimony. God saved him out of a life of drugs, parties, gambling, and women. Everyone knows this testimony is much more interesting than one like mine. I was a preacher’s kid who grew up in church and saved at an early age. No wild parties for me. A testimony like this man’s will help catapult a person to the top 40 on the evangelistic circuit. In his words, the author was ushered on the stage of churches and campus ministries to tell what Jesus had done for him.
With this experience, he thought a good place for God to use him was in a large campus ministry, and soon he was involved in one. To his dismay, he wasn’t put up front. Instead, his job was to raise and lower the curtain for people who were on stage. He was upset at the turn of events because he thought his ministry was more valuable to God than being a backstage hand. It was then the Lord convicted him. He recognized this as his attempt to photobomb Jesus.
From this point, he ended the article with “six glory-stealing confessions.” The first one caught my eye relating to this evening’s sermon. He confessed, “I want Jesus to be glorified, but I want glory too.” Nothing better describes a photobombing pastor. He seeks applause as a way of getting into the picture with Jesus. It is fine if Jesus is in the picture too, but he must be sure he isn’t left out and gets the recognition he needs. His bio will read about how the church has grown since he became the pastor. The numbers in attendance are noted, the value of the buildings is announced, and don’t forget how many books he’s authored. He is a jack of all trades but master of none. He expects the congregation to applaud as he enters the sanctuary with his entourage in tow.
In a similar way, there are preachers such as I who pastor smaller less prominent ministries. We do not expect applause for good reason. If you have heard our attempts, they are too weak to be anything but embarrassing. We seek recognition in other ways. Ours is to photobomb Jesus by seeking compliments. We love to hear someone at the door tell us how great the sermon was that day. We need at least one of these to remind us who is the most important around here. If we get two, there is no doubt Spurgeon was in the building. If there are no compliments, we are grossly under appreciated.
Do we need this affirmation to be successful preaching God’s word? If it bothers us, we need to step back and remember who should receive glory. This author said, “A servant who seeks affirmation steals something that does not belong to them…A preacher who preaches to gain glory for himself is flirting with Christ’s bride for whom he died to have for His own.” This quote works for either the morning or evening message. Let Christ be the only one framed in the picture. This is His church not mine.
Pastor V. Mark Smith