What does the Bible say about shyness? Is okay to be shy?
First off, lots of kids and even adults struggle with being shy. You're not some kind of social misfit for feeling this way. ;-) If you're in an unfamiliar or scary situation with people you don't know well, it's not totally uncommon to want to shrink back in fear or disappear into your own little corner.
But 2 Timothy 1:7 says that "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." The Living Bible paraphrases this verse beautifully: "For the Holy Spirit, God's gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them."
Shyness usually manifests because of some kind of fear. It's one thing to be nervous about giving a speech in history class (public speaking is #1 on the list of fears; death is #2), but it's quite another to be so shy that you are unable to make friends or interact with people at all.
This kind of shyness is crippling to your life and is based on fear—fear that you won't be accepted, fear that people won't understand you, fear that you will fail. It is a self-centered state of being that reveals a heart that is desperately seeking approval from others.
But when you have God as your Heavenly Father, you can have confidence that He loves you dearly, that He is in control of every situation, and that He is working all things toward your best interests. He has already accepted you, and He is on your team. Romans 8:31 asks the question, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"
Extreme shyness or self-consciousness is, in a weird way, a form of pride. That sounds backward, but listen... We naturally want to be accepted by our fellow human beings; all of us do. But when that desire is so overwhelming that we forget who first accepted us when we were wretched and undesirable (1 John 4:19), then we have put the opinions of mankind over the opinions of God.
Colossians 3:1-3 says, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
In the words of David Crowder as he sings to God in Everything Glorious, "You make everything glorious / You make everything glorious / Yeah, You make everything glorious / And I am Yours / What does that make me?"
Don't Live in Fear of Failure
A shyness that causes you to live your life in fear of failure is not the ideal life to lead. I know it's hard to accept that not everyone will like you. But there are a lot of different people in the world, and it would be impossible to positively connect with everyone. In fact, the Bible says that if you live your life for Christ, then it's guaranteed that you'll tick someone off eventually (2 Timothy 3:12).
But remember, the opinions of people don't matter as much as God's opinion of you (Ephesians 6:6-7). And guess what? God thinks you're pretty awesome. :-)
Anyway, Proverbs 29:25 says, "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe." That doesn't mean that life will be all puppy dogs and daisies and happiness, but it does mean that if we have God on our side, He will take care of us in both the good and bad times.
Don't allow your fear or self-consciousness to keep you from helping others! It may be a scary world out there, but God's got your back.
The key to overcoming painful shyness (or at least beginning to deal with it) is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was sent to help us (John 14:26). If we can learn to allow Him to give us strength instead of relying on ourselves (Isaiah 40:29), then we can better handle scary social situations. If we can learn to give Him control instead of making choices out of our own fear (Galatians 5:16), then it will help take some of the pressure off when faced with hard situations.
Instead of embracing fear, embrace your faith in God (Hebrews 11:6) and His love for you (1 John 4:18-19). How do you do this? Start by allowing yourself to melt into Scripture (Colossians 3:16; Romans 10:17). Reading the Bible and learning about God's character will help you understand that it is safe to put your confidence in Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When you have God's power inside you and you are taking action based on love, then you have a better opportunity to shine His light onto others. You will be able to reach others and help them feel important, valued, appreciated. And isn't that what we all want? Don't let shyness get between you and giving that gift to someone else.
Practical Tips on Overcoming Shyness
- Band together. When you see another shy person, approach them and strike up a conversation. It may be intimidating at first, but show them the acceptance that you have been given through Christ. Find out what you guys have in common (even if your commonality is at first only that you have a hard time coping with large groups of people!), then go from there.
- Stop trying to be perfect. Everybody makes mistakes and messes up or looks like a fool occasionally. It happens. But remember: it happens to everybody. Laugh it off, and don't take your little mistakes too seriously. Sometimes a good mess up is the perfect way to start a conversation!
- Get up and get out. Don't allow yourself to stay glued to your laptop or iPod in your tiny little bubble. Yes, our bubbles can be very nice, but it's good to invite people into your bubble once in a while. ;-) You can learn a lot from other people's thoughts and experiences, not to mention that you have a lot to offer them too.
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