In age that loves personality tests, it is good to be reminded that biblical boldness is not a personality thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Enneagram as a useful tool both in understanding souls shaped differently than mine and in navigating the labyrinth that is my own soul. My children and I happily do internet quizzes that peg us as a Hufflepuff or Gryffindor (but never a Slytherin).
But this morning, the Lord was quick to remind me that boldness is not exclusively an eight thing. Boldness is not primarily a matter of personality, it is the fruit of deep belief. That is not to say that every personality will exhibit the same intensity and brand of boldness; however, being an introvert or a loyalist or a peace-lover does not get one off the hook of being bold.
Paul: the epitome of an eight
We could argue over whether the Apostle Paul was an eight with a one-wing or a one with an eight-wing, though I don’t think he would have had time for such talk. Either way, we know enough from the Scriptures to know that Paul was, by nature, bold, brazen, and unafraid.
He could command an audience, he would not be intimidated, and he persisted in boldly declaring truths that were terribly uncomfortable (see Acts 14). As a later convert who had not had the privilege of spending time with the Incarnate Christ, he even had the gaul to challenge James, Peter, and the Church in Jerusalem (see Acts 15 and Galatians 2:11-21). For someone like Paul, it would be easy to qualify his boldness as being a result of his personality. Only, Paul does not allow us to do so.
In his second letter to the Church in Corinth, Paul lets us know the birthplace of his boldness is not in his personality but in his belief in the gospel.
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Noe that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant…Since we have such a hope, we are very bold. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 & 12).
Here, Paul overtly tells us that his boldness is birthed from the hope that flows from his belief in the gospel of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, not from his genetic make-up or hardwiring.
Timothy: the epitome of not-an-eight
Similarly, in his last words to Timothy, his son and gospel protege, we overhear Paul coaching Timothy along these same lines.
Timothy could not have been more different than the powerful Paul. He was, by nature, timid and anxious. Timothy had to be reminded that, while different in personality, he, too, had been gifted by the Lord. Paul says the following in regards to Timothy’s timidity (try to say that one fast five times).
For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Paul knew Timothy well. He likely anticipated Timothy’s pushback to this command being something along the lines of, “Well, that is easy for you to say, you are an eight. I’m a six. I am fearful, so I cannot be bold like you.” A few verses later, Paul, as any good teacher would, connects the dots from this command to the underlying reality that boldness stems from belief, disconnecting this principle from personality.
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me (2 Timothy 1:12).
Paul’s boldness was birthed in his deep belief in the gospel, not merely his powerful personality.
Perhaps for those of us who are less bold by nature, the place to begin is our persuasion of the gospel, rather than bolstering personality traits.
Rather than listening to TED talks about becoming brave and more vocal, perhaps we ought to sit and stare longer at the gospel and trace us out the powerful implications that flow from it.
People who die apart from Christ will forever be separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-3) Sitting and meditating on that reality is just about the only thing that helps me to boldly share the gospel when I hate to stir up contention. Learning better tactics on how to converse will not get me there.
One day, I will stand before the judgment throne of Christ to give an account (Romans 14:12). The only way that I can get over the Himalayan hill of my desire to please people by not stirring things up or appeasing them is to foster a deeper desire to please Christ.
May we, whether we are a one, an eight or anything else, foster our belief in the gospel which fosters our boldness, to the end that Christ may be proclaimed. Amen.