We all have our pet peeves. This is one of mine: People who excuse themselves from obeying the Lord or doing difficult tasks that would require them to stretch because, “I’m shy” or “I’m just not able to do that.”
Get over your shyness, friend. There is no place for shyness in the Kingdom of God, not if you’re planning on being obedient to the Master.
The Lord is going to be asking from you things you cannot easily do, and you will be forced to decide whether to give in to your reserve or to obey Him. You will not be able to do both.
The Lord will ask you to step out of the crowd and confess Him. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked, and called a woman to step forth and admit that it was she who had stretched out the hand of faith to the Savior (Mark 5:31).
For some of us, that means responding to the invitation at church next Sunday morning and stepping forward, into the aisle, to publicly affirm that Christ is our Savior and Lord.
The Lord will ask you to go into your world and confess Him. He said, “You shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in Judea….” (Acts 1:8).
He said, “Whoever confesses me before men, him the Son of Man will also confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:9).
He may ask you to suffer for Him. “Beware of men,” Jesus said, “for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues” (Matthew 10:17).
Clearly, if one’s natural shyness is dominant, if it keeps us from letting others around us know of our commitment to Christ, if it silences us when to speak out would be costly or hard, our discipleship is going to suffer.
I’m only a Baptist preacher, let me admit here, and not a psychiatrist with insights into human personalities and psyches. So, what follows is not the last word on this subject, but if it moves the discussion along and helps someone to leave their cubicle of withdrawal for Jesus’ sake, it will be worth the effort.
First, what this is NOT.
This is not an attempt to discourage shy people from giving their lives to Jesus. Quite the opposite. It’s an effort to get shy people out of their shells, to encourage them to speak up even if they find it difficult, to not live their lives in fear of other people but in the strength of the Lord.
The problem of shyness.
I have a theory that we are all naturally shy. In our growing-up years, we each experience enough put-downs and failures, embarrassments and humiliations, that we become wary of standing out from the crowd. It’s just safer to keep one’s head down.
Shyness is a complex personality syndrome made up of parts of self-consciousness, self-doubt, nervousness, second-guessing oneself, a dread of new experiences, and a fear of other people.
None of that will be allowed if we are to serve Christ.
You are not allowed shyness in the Kingdom.
You will need confidence and even boldness to:
–speak to total strangers. Even if you do not do this easily or as a natural thing, there will be times when you will want to open the conversation with people completely unknown to you. Watch for the Spirit of God inside you to say when.
–speak up in court where you have been thrown for your faith in Christ. This warning in Matthew 10 is a precious word for millions of believers who live in repressive societies today. The fact that Christians in America rarely have to contend with such possibilities should not blind us to what our brothers and sisters worldwide endure every day.
–address crowds. “Oh, I could never get up in front of all those people and give my testimony!” I’ve heard that. It’s never, ever the case. Anyone can do it. Those who do will find the experience to be life-changing.
–defend yourself before those hostile to you, your faith, your Lord, your activities. They did this quite a bit in the Acts of the Apostles, and are still doing it even in this country. If you have ever stood in your front yard being cursed by a neighbor who is hostile to you for your faith in Christ, then you know. This is a moment when your Christian faith shines brightest.
It’s all right to have no confidence and boldness within yourself.
That is to say, the fact that you are naturally reserved is not a hindrance and will not prevent you from being effective in taking a stand for the Savior.
Some of the strongest witnesses for the Lord I’ve ever known were people who had to overcome incredible shyness in life.
Sometime around 1981, TIME magazine named Pastor Frank Pollard of Jackson Mississippi’s First Baptist Church one of the 10 best preachers in America. At the time, Frank was featured each week on “The Baptist Hour,” a radio ministry that literally blanketed the world. What was fascinating about this honor was that this outstanding preacher began life as a severely introverted child.
As a teenager, when Frank announced that God had called him into the ministry, his friends asked, “How will you be able to preach when you can’t even look people in the eye?” He had no idea.
The answer for Frank Pollard is the same answer for you and me: The Holy Spirit.
Ask God for boldness and confidence; He specializes in it.
When they were threatened and warned to quit preaching Jesus, Peter and John called together the church family. Together, they prayed, “Now Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word….” (Acts 4:29). Shortly thereafter, we read, “…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (4:31).
Longtime Dallas pastor Dr. W. A. Criswell had a sermon on the transformation of the Apostle Peter from the coward who denied Jesus three times the night He was on trial to the stalwart evangelist who proclaimed Christ to thousands at Pentecost just a few weeks later. He titled it From Chicken-Hearted to Lion-Hearted.
Some of God’s greatest servants began their ministries as introverts. They were not allowed to stay that way.
Joshua was shy. So much so, that as Moses was leaving the scene and Joshua was about to step to the forefront, at least six times he is told to “be strong and of good courage” (Deuteronomy 31:6-8,23 and Joshua 1:6,9,18).
Jeremiah was shy. When he began to protest to the Lord that he was just a kid, God said, “Do not say ‘I am a youth.'” Furthermore, “Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you.” And again, “Do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them.” (Jer.1)
God would not have a hesitant, nervous, self-conscious spokesman. He who would speak for the Almighty must be strong in the Lord and courageous and speak clearly and boldly.
Moses was shy. From all we know of this man, shyness is not a quality we associate with Moses. And yet, when God called him, this shepherd of Horeb began to protest, “Who am I?” And, “What if they won’t listen?” And then, “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 3-4)
God had little patience with such. In answer, He asked 3 rhetorical questions: “Who made your mouth? Who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Haven’t I, the Lord?”
Interestingly, Moses asked for Aaron to be his spokesman, God granted this assistance, and thereafter we rarely hear from Aaron at all. He seems to have been a concession from God for Moses’ nervousness, but once he got into the fray, Moses found the Lord’s presence was sufficient.
When you get started in obedience, your confidence might even surprise you.
1) You suddenly become more aware of the Lord’s presence than of your inadequacies or the crowd’s intimidation.
2) You quickly begin to understand John 4:4, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
3) Not fearing becomes a matter of obedience to you. After all, disciples are under strict orders not to fear. Three times in Matthew 10, the Lord cautioned His people not to fear. He gives three reasons: a) what they do will eventually come to light (10:26); b) the worst they can do is kill your body; after that, they can’t touch you (10:27-28); and c) you are of great value to the Father (10:31).
4) Your eyes of faith begin to see the invisible. (See II Kings 6:16-17)
5) And best of all, you learn that taking a stand for Jesus is not in the least about you; it’s all about Him. (see Matthew 10:20)
So, relax. Loosen up. Smile. Laugh. Rejoice. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Next time the Lord puts you in a place where He’s asking more of you than you ever thought you were capable of, think of what great confidence He has in you and go forward.
Take a lesson from the man with the withered hand in the synagogue of Capernaum. As He prepared to heal him, Jesus commanded him to do the very thing he had been unable to accomplish. Stretch forth your hand! (Mark 3:5)
That’s our Lord for you. He loves to stretch us in the very areas where we are stunted.
So, say goodbye to your shyness, Christian. You’ll not be limited by its shackles any longer, not weighted down by its fears, not banished to your cell by its loneliness. You are an overcomer through Him who loved you.
Go forth with boldness. Sing Paul’s song along your path: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)