God wants you to be bold, not arrogant, but bold. God wants you to be strong, not prideful, but strong. He wants you filled with character, not cowardice. He wants you to lead with humility, not timidity.
I have my fair share of "run away" stories from uncomfortable moments. One I tell a lot, is also pretty cringeworthy and a little funny. Some 25 years ago, I was job searching. I walked into an interview with a promise of unlimited earning potential - and so did 15 other people for the same group interview. It was a telemarketer job.
I sat through the the money making opportunity speel. I squirmed a bit in my chair for the training segment. I started to sweat when I was put in a cubicle with phone and script. I felt I was dying inside when after the first two calls - hangups without me finishing the first sentence.
So, as the sales manager paced behind the cubicles, I raised my hand and asked directions to the bathroom. He said, "Out the door and to the right." So, I walked out the door and to the left, straight to my car and drove home.
My cowardice got the best of me. It was an uncomfortable situation and I dealt with it in the way that was most comfortable to me - running away, well, briskly walking to my car.
We have to deal with a lot of uncomfortabe situations in life. Some that are no fault of our own, and some that we made happen. Sometimes we deal with very uncomfortable and confrontational moments in ministry. The telemarkter story is not my only "run away" story.
But we don't necessarily have to face our fears more than we need to rely on the strength that comes from the Lord.
Timothy probably felt overwhelmed and under gifted. He was facing difficulties and wanted to avoid them. Maybe it was facing persecution. Maybe it was the pressure and stress of life and ministry. Maybe he had a side job as a telemarketer. Whatever the case, in reading 2 Timothy, you feel that he might have wanted to "run away".
But Paul tells him, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)
Timidity and self destructive fear is natural and easy for most, don't let anyone fool you. Even those who seem to be loud and bold, may be reacting to their natural instincts with arrogance and pride, which is just as self destructive.
Paul tells Timothy, "God has not given us a spirit of timidity." The word "us" is just as important as "timidity". Paul faced it too. He knew that everyone faced it.
But the opposite of "running away" is how God wants us to deal with these difficult situations. He wants us to have the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.
Power for strength.
Love for understanding.
Self-discipline to handle it in the right way.
That day 25 years ago in the telemarketing cubicle, I needed power to stand up and say, "Nope, this is not for me, thank you for your time." I needed love to see that there is nothing wrong with that way of earning a living. These people were not bad and neither were they against me. And I needed self-discipline to walk out, not run out with the pretense of going to the bathroom. I wonder how long they waited for me to come out of the bathroom that day?
The same thing applies to any situation we find ourselves in - whether we want to run away or not. You can't handle it yourself. You need God. You need the spirit of power for strength and boldness. You need the spirit of love for understanding and compassion. You need the spirit of self-discipline to handle the situation in the right way.