How to Overcome a Spirit of Timidity
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
What is “a spirit of timidity?” Is it possible you have such a spirit? Moreover, what are the warning signs? If you have this “spirit of timidity” why is it bad to have it and what can be done to get rid of it? The answers to all these questions can be found in 2 Timothy 1:5-8.
Paul was impressed with Timothy’s faith. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (v5) Therefore we can conclude that “timidity” is not the result of a lack of faith. In fact, Paul’s point is that people of faith are the ones who should not have this “spirit of timidity.” Our walk with God should be marked by “spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
Paul’s fear was that Timothy would join with other Christians who had grown tired of standing up for Christ under the stress of suffering and persecution. They had opted for the road of the least resistance and opposition. They were still believers, still in the faith, but had resigned themselves to a Christian existence that safe and comfortable.
One reason many Christians suffer from a “spirit of timidity” is battle fatigue. You may be one of many who once served on the front lines in the church or on the mission field. Your service for the Lord was so intense that you grew weary from the constant struggles of ministry and took yourself out of the game. Life is safer and more comfortable for you on the sidelines.
Another reason for this “spirit of timidity” is fear of rejection. These Christians prefer to keep their faith to themselves and follow the path of least resistance. On the few occasions in which they have attempted to share their faith they have been greeted by hostility or the rejection they fear. Their negative experiences were sufficient to keep them from putting their hand on the fire again. They long for acceptance, seek always to avoid conflict, and are easily embarrassed by appearing to be “too Christian.”
All of us bring differing personality traits into the faith. I am painfully shy. Years on the radio and in public ministry have helped me overcome much of my shyness…but I am still more comfortable keeping to myself. Witnessing and ministry for me have been like struggling to swim upstream. I don’t like to impose on others, yet I know I have a greater responsibility than my personal weaknesses. Many times I have sung the words of an old hymn, “I am weak but Thou art strong” and I have often been comforted by today’s focus scripture, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power…”
When our kids reach their teen years, it is not uncommon for them to be embarrassed by the presence and behavior of mom and dad. One of my sons was so embarrassed by me, he would ask me to drop him off a block from his middle school so he wouldn’t be seen with me. I couldn’t be too hard on him for his thinking. I didn’t have to look back very far to see me doing the same thing when my grandfather drove me to high school in his old station wagon he used for hauling hay and small farm animals. Maturity eventually enabled both of us to overcome that weakness in our personalities. The same is true for the Christian. As you grow in Christ, you will overcome those personality traits that hold you back from the Lord’s work.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy is God’s objective for us: “do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.” (v8) Don’t allow battle fatigue, fear of rejection, or even personality weaknesses to keep you from telling others about Jesus. Paul further admonishes Timothy not to be “ashamed of me his prisoner.” (v8) For you and me that means we should not be ashamed to stand up for and stand alongside people of faith who are making a difference for Christ.
Then Paul calls upon Timothy to “join with me in suffering for the gospel.” (v8) You must allow nothing to keep you from your higher calling in Christ, even if it means getting out of your comfort zone and suffering for Christ and His gospel.
That brings us to “how.” How can you overcome a “spirit of timidity?” You must appropriate that which God gave you when you surrendered your life to Christ: “a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Power for ministry and witnessing is not of ourselves but it is “by the power of God.” Our motivation is “love” for Christ and others. We overcome our weaknesses and effectively serve Him through “self-discipline.” Just like a diet plan or exercise program you have to faithfully and consistently work at sharing your faith and working for the Lord.
How do you tap into the “power of God” that will energize and enable you to overcome your “spirit of timidity?” Paul’s reminder to Timothy is God’s word for us: “fan into flame the gift of God…” (v6) A pilot light already burns inside you. Through faith and action turn up the flame into a roaring fire that burns brightly for Christ. If you have never done it before then do it now. If you have taken yourself out of the game, it’s time to get back onto the playing field.
God’s not expecting you to be Billy Graham or the Apostle Paul. Through your personality, using your gifts and talents, find a way to share Christ with others.
I am reminded of the amazing story of Evangelist, David Ring, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and orphaned at age 14. His service for Christ is a shining example of what the “power of God” can accomplish in the life of a believer and how we can conquer adversity and personal challenges. When you hear his moving testimony and see how God is using him you cannot help but be moved when he says, “What’s your excuse?” Let us stop making excuses and make use of “the power” that God has for us.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Why You Don’t Have to Be Afraid
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.