16, 17. (a) How did Paul acquire boldness for the ministry? (b) What measures should we take if we find ourselves intimidated by some aspect of our Christian ministry?
16 To the Christians in Thessalonica, Paul wrote: “After we had first suffered and been insolently treated (just as you know) in Philippi, we mustered up boldness by means of our God to speak to you the good news of God with a great deal of struggling.” (1 Thessalonians 2:2) How had Paul and his companions been “insolently treated” in Philippi? According to some scholars, the Greek word used by Paul expresses insulting, shameful, or outrageous treatment. The Philippian authorities had beaten them with rods, thrown them into prison, and confined them in stocks. (Acts 16:16-24) How did that painful experience affect Paul? Did ones in the next city on his missionary tour, Thessalonica, find Paul shrinking back in fear? No, he “mustered up boldness.” He conquered fear and continued to preach boldly.
17 From where did Paul’s boldness come? From within? No, he said that he mustered up boldness “by means of our God.” A reference work for Bible translators says that this statement may be rendered “God took fear out of our hearts.” So if you do not feel particularly bold about your ministry, or if some aspect of it in particular strikes you as intimidating, why not appeal to Jehovah to do the same for you? Ask him to take the fear from your heart. Ask him to help you muster up boldness for the work. In addition, take some other practical measures. For example, arrange to work with someone who is adept at the form of witnessing that concerns you. It may involve business territory, street witnessing, informal preaching, or telephone witnessing. Perhaps your partner will be willing to take the lead at first. If so, observe and learn. But then muster up the boldness to give it a try.
18. What blessings may we experience if we muster up boldness in our ministry?
18 If you do muster up boldness, think of what may result. When you persist and do not let yourself become discouraged, you are likely to have good experiences in sharing the truth, experiences that you might otherwise have missed. (See page 25.) You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have pleased Jehovah by doing something that is difficult for you. You will experience his blessing and help in overcoming your fears. Your faith will be stronger. Really, you cannot work at building faith in others without building your own faith at the same time.—Jude 20, 21.
They Mustered Up Boldness
IT IS not always easy to muster up boldness in order to preach. In fact, the apostle Paul said that on one occasion, he did so “with a great deal of struggling.” (1 Thessalonians 2:2) Is the ‘struggle’ to preach worth the effort? There is no guarantee of spectacular experiences, but God’s people are often glad that they mustered up boldness. Consider some examples.
An eight-year-old girl named Tara listened intently as her teacher told the class that during World War II, Jewish concentration camp inmates had to wear a yellow Star of David for identification. Tara wondered if she should speak up. “I prayed with my eyes open,” she recalls. Then she raised her hand and said that Jehovah’s Witnesses were in those camps too, and they had to wear a purple triangle. The teacher was interested and thanked her. Tara’s comment opened the way for further discussions with the teacher, who later even showed her entire class the video Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault.
In Guinea, West Africa, a young unbaptized publisher named Irène wanted to make progress in her ministry. The missionary who studied the Bible with her encouraged her to try placing the Watchtower and Awake! magazines with fellow students at school. Irène was hesitant because her classmates had been unreceptive. However, moved by the missionary’s encouragement, Irène decided to approach first the student who had seemed the most opposed. To Irène’s surprise, the girl was responsive and eagerly accepted the magazines. Other students followed suit. Irène placed more magazines that month than she had in the preceding five combined.
In Trinidad an elder felt quite hesitant about approaching the principal of a school to show her the educational value of the Awake! magazine. Nonetheless, he mustered up the boldness. He says: “I prayed as I entered the compound. I could not believe it when the principal was extraordinarily pleasant.” She accepted the Awake! magazine on “What Hope for Today’s Youths?” and even agreed to use it in teaching class. Since then, she has accepted 40 magazines covering various issues.
As a youth, Vaughn always found preaching difficult. “I would get nervous, my palms would sweat, and I would speak fast—I couldn’t slow down.” Nevertheless, he became a full-time minister. Still, it was not always easy for him to speak up. Once, after a discouraging day of job hunting, he wanted to witness to someone on the train, “so at least some good could come out of a bad day.” But he felt intimidated by the important-looking businessmen on the subway train. Finally, he mustered up boldness to speak to an elderly man next to him. A long conversation resulted. “You have such good questions for a young person,” the businessman said, asking, “Are you a theologian?” Vaughn replied, “No, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” “Ah,” the man smiled. “Now I understand.”
All these Witnesses—and countless others—are glad that they mustered up boldness to preach. Will you do the same?