Over the last several months, I’ve been trying to reflect on any recurring themes or messages I see in my life as I set my goals and prepared to move toward them. The one that kept coming up was to have courage and be bold. It was everywhere—on TV, on social media, and even in books I read. Videos, images, and words encouraging people to stand up, speak out, or to walk in their calling.
Although I felt an internal tugging to make boldness my one word for 2019, I admit I never thought someone like me could really be bold. Bold to me was loud, extroverted, always comfortable, and always confident. I was none of those things. Also, knowing my personality and the things that made me uncomfortable, I feared taking risks for the sake of that boldness and doing things that felt so unnatural they would cause me to sell my soul.
The thought of it overwhelmed me and filled me with anxiety.
The Bold I Didn’t Want To Become
I didn’t understand why I had such a negative reaction to the idea of becoming bold. So I searched for the definition. I saw Merriam-Webster defined it as adventurous, standing out, or showing a daring spirit—which can be good things. But I also saw the words impudent and presumptuous, which is a boldness that can appear disrespectful or inappropriate.
It suddenly dawned on me. Although people I considered bold stood out and seemed fearless, the majority of the times I heard the word used in conversation was not in a good way. When I heard the word bold, I imagined someone who was so confident in themselves, their abilities, and their “rightness” that the appearance of fearlessness often came with a side of condescension and conceit. I thought of someone who was so blunt and brash that they told it like it was, seemingly without considering there was a real person at the other end of their diatribe. Someone who was quick to defend themselves or someone else with words or actions that shocked, but more times than not, seemed a bit recklessness. No love. No humility. And I wanted no parts of that.
Nonetheless, I knew that if I felt God’s will for me was to become more bold, there was something wrong with my perception of it.
Reading the Bible, I was reminded that all of God’s people are called to courage and boldness. Yet, it’s not a boldness that depends on our ages, backgrounds, personality types or Enneagram scores. We all have access to it. We can even pray for it (Acts 4:31).
In true boldness, we won’t always be confident in our ability to do something nor the results if we take certain risks—but we move anyway. We move to a place where fear can no longer hold us back. Where we can dare to dream of something better than our fear ever allowed. Joshua 1:9 says the Lord commands us to be strong and courageous, and not be frightened or dismayed—because He is with us wherever we go. This is possible because of the power we’re given through Christ. Through Him and his sacrifice, we can always have hope (2 Corinthians 3:12) and confidence in God (Hebrews 4:16), His sovereignty, and His goodness. From there, the Holy Spirit can empower us to step out on faith and override our fear (Hebrews 13:6). After all, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Time and time again, the Bible showed me what that actually means. I saw how that God-given boldness helped God’s people do amazing things. When Noah built the ark. When Daniel endured the lion’s den. When Peter refused to stop preaching the Gospel, despite requests he stop. The list goes on. And we can’t forget how boldness enabled Jesus Christ himself to go into places he was not expected to go, share God’s truth with people he was not expected to reach, and ultimately take on the cross.
Countless stories and articles also showed how boldness continues to help people like us today. It helps them face opposition, defend unpopular causes, do unpopular things, or merely do the things that terrify them. And it doesn’t mean they’re destined to became careless or lose humility. In fact, one article about the things really bold people do says many who are bold will help improve the world around them. That’s because people overwhelmingly perceive them as self-aware, intentional, focused, and inspiring. They get big things done, but they also encourage growth, progress, and movement in the process.
Turns out, true boldness isn’t as exclusive or unsavory as I’d made it out to be. In fact, boldness is a wonderful thing, when we let it be—because it allows us to bravely do what we’re called to do to glorify God.
So, this year—as I push myself to embrace my one word for 2019—I am overriding my old fears and reservations, and choosing to be bold. Anyone care to join me?
“Boldness doesn’t mean rude, obnoxious, loud, or disrespectful. Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated. It means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted. Boldness is quiet, not noisy.”Mike Yaconelli