Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Overcoming Timidity

I'm naturally shy.  When I was younger, my shyness basically controlled my life.  In fact, many people have thought I am arrogant and rude because when they greeted me, I could barely stand to give a half smile and say "hi."  I could hardly even look someone in the eye.

Shyness can easily step between you and God's plans for you.  In Mark 16:15, God called us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.  This means that the Lord wants you to step outside of your comfort zone and start telling people unashamedly about Him.  Terrifying, right?

Even the Bible has something to say about shyness, which can also be called timidity.  Check out 2 Timothy 1:7.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
The Lord did not make you to be timid.  He wants you to be empowered with His love and His strength.

Many famous Biblical figures were shy.  Moses was terrified of speaking in public.  Paul was self-admittedly timid around people.  2 Corinthians 10:1 says, "By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you- I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away!"  Paul struggled with shyness just like you or me, but look at how the Lord helped him to overcome his timidity and do great things!

Over time, I've learned to stand up against my shy nature.  It's been difficult, but I've realized how much my shyness hindered me as a witness and as an individual.  Being shy has never helped me.  It doesn't define who I am.  It has only caused me to lose both potential friends and respect, and while I still struggle with timidity, I'm eager to throw it into the dust as much as I possibly can.

I've been given many opportunities to overcome my overbearing timidity.  I've served as a summer missionary through Child Evangelism Fellowship.  I've volunteered and interned at an inner city ministry where I've had to stand up and teach large groups of kids and teens about Jesus Christ.  I've traveled to ten different countries outside of the United States as a student ambassador and on mission trips.  I'm not nearly as shy as I once was, thanks to the help of my parents, friends, and Jesus Christ working through me.

You may be struggling with timidity right now.  If so, I understand what you're going through... shyness is tough to overcome.  Today I'm going to give you a few tips on how to overcome timidity and use the power and strength that the Spirit of God has given you to stand up and be a witness for Him.

Smile, even if you're afraid to talk much.
As horrifying as it might be, when you're shy, people often think you're stuck up because you don't say much, even when you don't mean to appear that way at all.  I've been in that situation more times than I can count, and I'm always mortified when I learn about the awful first impression I gave.  When you're struggling with timidity, be sure to smile, even if you can't bring yourself to speak.  I know that smiling can be difficult too, but it's vitally important.  When you have a smile on your face, you'll be viewed as friendly and sweet.  Smile at everyone, friend or stranger.

When you keep a smile on your face, you might start to make friends without even realizing it.  You'll appear more approachable, which means that people will go to greater lengths to walk up to you and get a conversation going.  If you have an intense, serious look on your face and you're standing quietly with hunched up shoulders, you aren't going to seem very approachable and people won't want to be around you.

Say something as simple as hi.
Force yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and say hi to people.  Say hi to your peers when you walk down the halls at school.  Say hi to the person sitting behind you at church.  Say hi to the cashier at the grocery store.  Say hi to nearly everyone you meet.  Not only will you create a new impression of yourself- people will see you as friendly if you initiate a greeting- you will also be training yourself to reach out to others.  Yes, it's frightening to take a step and say something to a stranger... but it's one word.  Just one simple word.  Be sure to say it with a smile.

Ask yourself, "How will speaking hurt me?"
Why is speaking to strangers so daunting?  What will they do to you?  If they don't like you, it doesn't really matter, right?  When you're feeling timid and anxious, keep reminding yourself that the worst that will happen is someone won't like you, and that isn't a big deal.  Luke 21:17 says, "Everyone will hate you because of Me."  Think about what Jesus had to endure.  He was mocked, spit upon, and beaten.  He was killed.  If you're given a weird look for speaking His Name, it will be worth it if you're trying to further Christ's kingdom, right?

Force yourself to take steps to enter conversations.
You won't be able to shake off your timidity right away.  It takes time and practice to overcome shy habits.  Take deliberate steps.  When you're standing with a group of friends, force yourself to speak up and enter the conversation.  Next, walk up to your group of friends and enter the conversation without an invitation.  Then try to start a conversation.  The more you force yourself to step out and speak to friends and then strangers, the less intimidating speaking will be.

If you're struggling with timidity, apologize.
In some situations, you'll feel more shy than others.  If you're having trouble conversing with an acquaintance, let them know.  Say something like, "I'm sorry I'm not talking much.  I'm shy."  They'll probably understand and make a stronger effort to help you into the conversation.  Nearly everyone has felt shy at some point, so most people will be able to empathize with your situation.

Put yourself in situations that are way outside of your comfort zone.
Challenge yourself.  When you put yourself into situations where you will have to speak and interact, you'll discover how quickly you can overcome your timidity.  Sign up for the speech class at your school.  Volunteer at a ministry and ask a leader to give you a job that will involve you interacting with strangers or speaking to a group.  Become a counselor at a camp.  Start a Bible Study.  Join a Bible Study and force yourself to enter in the conversation.  Go on a mission trip away from family and friends.  Witness to someone.  Volunteer at a Sunday School class at your church and teach the class once or twice.  Serve dinner at a soup kitchen.  There are so many opportunities in which you can be forced outside of your comfort zone... and as intimidating as they may seem, all they will do is help you.

Ask friends for help and accountability.
Talk to a close friend or two about your struggle with shyness.  She's probably already noticed.  Ask your friend to help introduce you to strangers or push you into a conversation.  A friend's gentle guidance can be all you need to help you feel comfortable in a nerve-wracking situation.  You can even find another shy friend and become accountability partners, praying for each other and pushing each other to enter new and intimidating situations that will help you overcome your timidity.

Remind yourself of God's will for you.
Read the Bible and continue to remind yourself of God's perfect plan for your life.  He wants you to be unashamed and bold.  He doesn't want your shyness to hold you back.  Place verses like 2 Timothy 1:7 and Romans 1:16 on your bathroom mirror and in your purse and in your locker at school.  Memorize encouraging verses.  Pray and ask the Lord for assistance.  The Holy Spirit is there to encourage you and strengthen you when you struggle to witness to others.  God will be there to help you when  you can't overcome your timidity on your own.  Remember that nothing is too difficult for you to overcome with God's help.

Practice, practice, practice.
Remember: the more you step out of your comfort zone and practice boldness and courage, the less you will feel timidity pulling you down.  Yes, pray.  Yes, read the Bible.  Yes, ask for advice.  But taking steps to deliberately speak to others is just as important.  You must step out and act in order to overcome timidity, however daunting that may be.

You will be faced with situations where you will be able to share your faith and be an example for Jesus Christ.  Don't let your shyness be a burden.  It will stop you from sharing your faith.  The enemy will try to use timidity as an excuse for you to stay away from God's plan for your life.  Don't let that happen.

Be bold.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.


  1. Thank you I have always been VERY shy.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing from your own personal testimony and offering such helpful advice! I've struggled with shyness and timidity all my life. I am a believer in Jesus, and I've left it to fester most of my life and it has been flooding into all areas ie work, relationships, confidence, and it continues to drain me when it comes to mind first thing in the morning. My hope and prayer is for Jesus to help me overcome this fear so I can be bold and step out for Him.

  3. Thanks - this has been very inspiring!

  4. I find this really interesting, especially since I've always been a shy person, and even when I'm with friends I get tongue-tied. Thanks!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your own testimony, I'm very shy person, now I realize nothing is difficult to overcome with God's help. I'll follow all the step To overcome my shyness, I belief God will help me. I would also like to request you to pray for. Thank you so much, May Godbless you forever <3

  6. You are a very wise young lady. Thank you for the helpful advice. I have too struggled greatly with shyness all my life. This has given me hope that I can overcome it. I needed this. I pray that God will continue to use you mightily in the lives of others. Thanks.

  7. This Blog that been written I know will help me to over come my timidity. And has remined me to ask Gods help this shyness I have.

  8. Dear Emily, Thank You so much for being a vessel for God. You have ministered to me greatly through this post and I am certain many others will be tremendously blessed. Thanks for sharing.
    We must remember, the DNA of the Creator of The Universe is within us...We must activate it.
    Many blessings to you and everyone reading this post.
    Continue representing Our King.

  9. Oh My God!! I am so greatful for this post. May the God of all creation, the Almighty bless you mightily. Thanks a lot, I have also struggled with shyness and it comes with fear that even myself do not really understand where it comes from.I trust the Lord for Help.

    Thank You Emily

  10. Thanks for this post Emily! It really helped me earlier this year and God has been transforming me into His image ever since! I know God is doing great things in your life as well and this was very encouraging for me. I have shared it on my blog.

  11. I really need to hear this scriptral counseling. God bless you!!!

  12. Thank you for sharing,Emily!
    Stepping out of comfort zone is fearful to me but I could't be there forever. So I started to work in a new place since this spring.Now I'm having difficult time. I'm sure what you said will give me courage at work.

  13. Thank you for sharing this, I have always been very Shy and "cut off" from the world. This has inspired me to OPEN up to my co-workers, family, friends...strangers..whoever! God Bless you!

  14. WOW. Exactly what I am going through right now God definitely brought me to this page because I needed to hear this. Thank God for using you this way, sometimes I feel like I am the only one going through this situation and no one understands me. Thank you for this advice. Praise God!

  15. Thank you!! A blessing. Was so close to scrolling past your blog but clearly God lead me here. Extremely useful
    information I'm looking to use to break free of shyness! Thank you. God bless.

  16. God bless you Emily for this amazing plog! This was just for me and without any shadow of a down it was the spirit of God who led me to read it. God bless you.

  17. Thank you so much for this, I struggle with this and I've gotten into a lot of trouble I believe because of my inability to voice my opinions and stand up for myself. I'm going to pray God activates my courageous and bold spirit and deactivate my timidity.