There are those who speak up for the sake of wanting to be heard. What they have to say feels so important. It needs to be out there. It often comes off as crossing a line. But why they are saying it can speak louder than the message itself.
Their why is this: It satisfies their craving for attention.
Center stage: self.
In my twenties, I began to notice my dad sparing me his advice more and more. Several years passed and I missed it, actually, enough to ask him why. He simply told me he’d decided to only give his advice to those who asked for it, with a few exceptions. The older I get, the wiser I see him. There are those who consider themselves bold, interjecting their advice or opinions into the minds of others. Perhaps they feel they’ve been through what others have not, or know profound insights most have yet to learn. They’ve got something powerful that will turn everything around. But their input was never requested.
Their why is this: To be the one that made the impact.
Center stage: Self.
There are others, still, who believe it to be bold speaking up about someone that has hurt them or someone they just don’t get along with. They seek the comfort zone of their circle of friends, however big or small, and cannot help but divulge their feelings about said person or group. It is often invalidating, a bi-product of taken offense. Social psychologist, Laurent Bègue says “About 60% of conversations between adults are about someone who isn’t present, and most of these are passing judgement.”* Besides strengthening a bond with the listener, sharing emotional discontent also elevates a gossip’s own standing. Pushing down with bold statements, or degrading one’s character will not just make an impression, it will make the accuser feel more…normal. Acceptable. Even superior.
Their why is primarily this: To level the playing field.
Center stage: Self.
Notice a pattern?
I don’t know about you, but I want to be bold! Bold not to get a thrill from constant attention and not to feel better about myself because I was “the one who said what everyone else was thinking” (in order to gain significance). And certainly not to use my words as leveling weapons in an effort to gain a momentary measure of acceptance. All of those roads lead to me. My why must reach beyond merely me.
When I think of speaking or acting in boldness, you know what my first thought is? Those first apostles of Jesus – Peter, John, Barnabas, Paul. How they prayed for it, how God gave it to them, and how they endured opposition. They spoke with blunt authority, that to be honest, I kinda envy on a daily basis.
Parresia – the Greek noun, παρρησία, is pronounced “pahr-ay-see-ya”. It was translated as “boldness” 5 times* throughout the book of Acts detailing God’s Spirit at work in believers of Jesus Christ. I’ve been eating this book up the last 4 weeks. Perresia is my new favorite word! It’s packed. It is this kind of boldness I want to show day-in and day-out. I snap-shot my Bible with handwritten notes of all that Perresia means, but here are a handful to keep in your back pocket:
- free and fearless confidence
- cheerful courage, boldness, assurance
- freedom in speaking
Like these men who essentially started the church, let’s be bold for the right reasons. Not to be self-serving, but to serve others. Not to make ourselves look better, but to highlight the wins or respectfully, the plights of others. Not to vent or gossip, but to take the risk of speaking hard truth to those who need to hear it. Truth sets free.
I think the why of this superior boldness – the why we’re looking for here, is hemmed in by the world’s greatest motivator: Love. Without it, a bold word is spoken but for self-gain. The world’s default. And I promise, any change to that effect will be a vapor. But with love for others as the root and covering of our boldness, we can reintroduce this Perresia. And as a result, we can bring a new release of all kinds of freedom to those who need it most, starting now.
*Strongs G3954: Parresia is found in Acts 2:29, 4:13, 4:29, 4:31, and 28:31