Quietly Faithful: No Fear

By Stephen R. Clark

by Danielle Dolin

 

Christian introverts are often mis-identified as being fearful, timid, or shy. A favorite verse tossed our way is 2 Timothy 1:7 that says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (CSB). We are then exhorted to be more “bold” like our extroverted brothers and sisters.

First, introversion is not a lack of boldness or a spirit of fear or shyness. Being an introvert is related to our energy, environment, and focus. (For more on these, see the 11/13/23 column, “Introvert essentials”).

Second, being biblically bold isn’t about behaving in an extroverted manner. Often, when we talk about someone who is being bold, we add the connotations of extroversion. But when you look up the meaning of “bold,” words such as courageous, fearless, and confident populate the definition. What isn’t included in the definition are words such as loud, outgoing, or expressive. The reality is that you can be bold and quiet at the same time. Let’s look at a couple of examples from the New Testament.

Boldy approaching

Hebrews 4:16 encourages, “Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (CSB). The word translated as “boldness,” in the Greek can mean freedom to speak, to be open and frank, to share without ambiguity. In fact, some versions translate the word as confidence. There is no mention of anything such as exuberant, loud, forceful, or other adjectives that we often attribute to extroverts. In other words, being bold is not an exclusively extroverted behavior. God doesn’t need us to shout for us to be heard.

Boldy giving

At the end of Mark 12, Jesus points out to his disciples the quiet yet decisive act of a widow. We know this as the story of “The Widow’s Mite.” The full passage is found in verses 41-44: “Sitting across from the temple treasury, he watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. Summoning his disciples, he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on’” (CSB).

This widow made no show of what she was doing. No one else but Jesus knew what was happening. Yet, the widow was acting boldly in her quiet manner. With confidence, she gave what she had knowing God would provide what she needed.

Boldly seeking

In fact, Jesus cautions against inappropriate outward exuberance. In Luke 18:10-14 he shared the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee. The Pharisee prayed in what we could label a “bold” manner, telling God all about his own goodness. The tax collector, however, was quiet and humble, yet boldly sought God’s forgiveness. Jesus concludes this parable stating, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

In essence, Jesus is saying that the introverted behavior of the tax collector, in this instance, is more appropriate than the extroverted behavior of the Pharisee.

Both/and

Bold is not a synonym for extroversion. Both introverts and extroverts can be appropriately bold within the context of their personality type. To be bold merely means to be frank, open, unambiguous, confident, and honest. These are characteristics all Christians are called to exhibit, whether boisterously or quietly.

 

Agree? Disagree? Love it? Hate it? Have a question about this column? Email Stephen at cnjintrovert@gmail.com. Share your story about being a Christian introvert or let me know a specific topic you’d like to see addressed.


Stephen R. Clark is a writer who lives in Lansdale, PA with his wife, BethAnn, where they are members of Immanuel Church. His website is www.StephenRayClark.com. He is a member of the Evangelical Press Association and managing editor of the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog. He is also a news writer for The Baptist Paper and contributor to the Englewood Review of Books. His writing has appeared in several publications. The content of this column is copyright © by Stephen R. Clark.

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