Proverbs 27 2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
We live in an age of self-promotion. Social media of various types are used to enhance our image. Many professional athletes even hire marketing firms to help create fame and to position themselves in the most marketable light. For Christian athletes there are three significant dangers that should be considered with self-promotion: vanity, accelerated timing, and dishonesty.
Firstly, it is certainly not a Christian principle to spend time building yourself up. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he said: 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philip. 2:3-4) Self-promotion can quickly become vanity as we spend so much time promoting ourselves. In contrast we are instructed to be concerned about the interest of others and valuing them above ourselves.
Secondly, much of self-promotion is designed to gain an outcome more quickly. By increasing our exposure, perhaps we can gain a position more rapidly. For instance, a high school athlete may promote themselves to college coaches so that they can gain an athletic scholarship. In itself, there is no sin in this, but it is important to be wise and consider whether we are short circuiting the plans God has for us. The Biblical principle is to wait on the Lord: “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31). Self-promotion can mess with God’s timing.
A third danger in self-promotion is that it can lead to dishonesty. Websites are full of exaggerated claims of athlete sizes (heights, weights), performance results, altered photographs etc. Many marketing firms and even coaches may not see anything wrong with an exaggeration which they might call a “white lie”, but as believers we walk to a higher standard – the standard of He who lives in us. The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (Proverbs 12:22).
Self-promotion of athletes is a reality today, and again in itself is not a sin, but Christian Athletes must constantly be aware of how it is perceived. It is wise to seek counsel in this area. Find someone (a person who will speak honestly into your life) and ask them if your self-promotion (i.e. your website, your tweats, your photos) accurately represent you as a humble and honest Christian. If not, make the changes you need to make. For some it may be radical changes (see Matthew 5:29), like removing yourself from social media. Make courageous decisions, for ultimately you are running this race not for the world, but for your Lord and saviour in heaven.
Wait for the Lord to promote you in His timing and you will experience the peace of God knowing that you are walking in His will rather than your own.