When I think of some of my favorite movies, (like the first Jurassic Park, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Wizard of Oz), I remember how the characters responded when they faced an intimidating person or situation. There were heroes, whiners, skeptics, losers, innocent bystanders, and the naive. Some try to run away from danger. Some respond by taking the challenge head-on. Some give in to emotion to cover up their fear. Others attempt to ignore the issue, hoping the threat will simply disappear. Faced with pressure, you’ll see a range of strong words and body language to reflect their initial response, either hopeful perspective or angry pessimism. What do you think is the best way to respond when threatened? Run, fight, or react?
One of the characters I enjoy encountering in the New Testament is a young man named Timothy. Part of the reason is that he faced significant pressure (or intimidation) as he stepped into leadership in the first century under the apostle Paul’s tutelage. As he tried to serve as a pastor of a church, many resisted his leadership, and he struggled to understand how to respond.
Read 2 Timothy 1:1-7.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he gave several reasons why and how Timothy could face and overcome his critics, as well as the personal insecurity he appeared to wrestle with. Essentially, Paul told Timothy how to recognize and use the “spirit of power, love, and self-discipline” that God provides His followers (verse 7). But would he run, fight, or react?
First, Timothy did not have to run, because God had given him a “spirit of power.” He had made heavenly resources available to all of his people, young or old, male or female. Paul reminded his young disciple Timothy that he was able to handle any situation he encountered and would indeed, persevere. No matter the problems, the cynics or skeptics, or the challenge of building the church, Timothy would overcome and succeed.
Second, Timothy did not have to fight, because God had given him a “spirit of love.” Those who have been hurt often hurt others. Those who have been beaten up, often resort to revenge to get back at those who bullied them. Having watched how Paul dealt with pain, and how he described the transforming power of the risen Christ, I believe Timothy realized to live like his Savior would be difficult, but not impossible to practice. He would not use physical force, but model servant leadership and win over others by humbly imitating Jesus.
Third, Timothy did not have to react improperly, because God had given him a “spirit of self-discipline.” A sound mind and life of disciplined choices can aid one in avoiding needless outbursts of wasted emotion. Christ-honoring people need to exhibit good and prudent judgment, especially in the light of trials and persecution.
How do you handle threats, pressure, and intimidation? Do you tend to run, fight, or react? How can Paul’s words to young Timothy assist you in better aligning your words and actions when tested? Ask God to help you learn to be courageous, loving, and wise when you face intimidating people or situations.
Walk wisely. It should not matter who or what you face, because God has given you everything you need to face your “giant” and utilize God’s resources to handle it.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz