One reason that believers may be reluctant to evangelize is timidity. Believers may experience feelings of inadequacy, fear of rejection or repercussions, which may cause them to feel timid. Also, there may be social, cultural, or familial causes for feeling timid, as well as shyness or personal reservations. Whatever the reasons, timidity is real; in fact, Paul's protégé, Timothy, may have experienced timidity in ministry (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Consider the following ways to confront feelings of timidity when it comes to evangelizing:
1. Pray to our Sovereign God. Privately and corporately, believers should ask God to enable them to boldly proclaim the gospel. In Acts 4:23-31, after being threatened by Christ's enemies, the believers confidently lifted their collective voices to the Lord and asked them to speak the Word with boldness. Their confidence was rooted in the fact that God is the Creator of heaven, the earth and the sea, and was sovereign over the suffering of Christ. In Ephesians 6:19-20, the apostle Paul asked the church to pray that he would have the words to boldly declare the gospel. At a minimum, these examples teach us that we should pray individually and corporately that God would strengthen us and others to boldly communicate the gospel.
2. Meditate on Biblical Truths
a. The gospel is God's power to save sinners (Romans 1:16). Since God exercises His saving power through the gospel, the believer's role is simply to proclaim it. This is especially true since the salvation of the person being evangelized is independent of the believer's intellect, ingenuity, persuasive abilities, or apologetical skills. No other message on earth does God exert His power to bring sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
b. The gospel is God’s truth (Ephesians 1:13; cf. Colossians 1:5) and is superior to Satan’s lies. Believers can rest assured that when they evangelize, they not only speak absolute truth, but God's truth. Conversely, any objection or teaching that denies the Person and work of Christ is a lie of the enemy (2 John 7). Believers are ambassadors of Christ, spokespersons of divine truth. Therefore, believers can evangelize with confidence, trusting in the absolute truth of the gospel.
c. God is for you; therefore, you need not fear. What can man do to you? These are the inspired words of the psalmist who expressed his gratitude to the Lord for saving him from his enemies (Psalm 118:6). Believers can also apply this verse to themselves when feelings of timidity or fear of rejection surface. Furthermore, in Matthew 10:28, Jesus encouraged His disciples not to fear those who could kill the body, but were powerless to kill the soul. He told them to fear God who had the authority to destroy both body and soul in hell at the final judgment. Therefore, whom should you fear? Fear God.
d. God is always present with the believer (Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20). The Father promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. Christ's promise of His abiding presence applies to every believer today. Moreover, the Holy Spirit empowers and emboldens believers to faithfully evangelize. The next time you evangelize, dwell on the fact that God is present with you always and will never abandon you. God's omnipresence and indwelling presence should be reassuring to every believer.
e. The gospel is superior to human "wisdom" (1 Corinthians 1:18, 25). Whether speaking to the most educated atheist or Christ-rejecting debater, God's wisdom in the gospel trumps the so-called "wisdom" of men and women. This is true, no matter how persuasive the unbeliever's arguments may sound and how "foolish" the gospel may appear. The wisdom of the gospel is not predicated on how carefully crafted one makes it, how it sounds to unbelievers, or whether it is accepted or endorsed by scholars. The wisdom of the gospel is rooted in the supreme and infinite wisdom of God. Rest in that.
3. Proclaim the Gospel. This may sound counterintuitive; but the point is the more we faithfully evangelize, trusting in the Holy Spirit and believing in God's Word (see Meditate on Biblical Truths above), the more God will grow us in this area. Consider how God transformed those formerly fearful disciples into bold, Spirit-empowered witnesses. Conversely, the less we evangelize, rely on the Holy Spirit, and believe God's Word, the more timid we will be and thus, the more difficult it will be to proclaim the gospel.
Although believers may feel timid about evangelizing, thankfully, they can petition God, the Creator of heaven and earth and the One who is sovereign over history. Believers should meditate on and be encouraged by God's Word. Moreover, as they trust in His Word, they should declare the gospel knowing that their obedience pleases Him.
Confronting Timidity in Evangelism