Have you ever said these words? “ it’s just my personality, it’s the way I am and I’m never going to change.” We all have. But I’ve learned to never say never. Especially to God! He’s in the business of changing and transforming lives. He never leaves us the way He finds us. But that change requires our cooperation. Change comes with our conversion, but it’s a process throughout our earthly lifetime. We must consent to be changed or allow our personality to keep us from moving forward in Him.
People who enjoy their old life and are always looking back will never be fully changed. If you want to keep giving folks a piece of your mind, Satan will gladly help you maintain your old personality. He’ll keep us mean spirited, brash, selfish, false humility, timid, fearful, anxious, living under your zodiac sign. I can never understand Christians who always want to know what sign we’re born under. My answer is always the same: The sign of the cross. When I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, I surrendered my personality. I needed a total transformation. I didn’t want to keep anything that would derail my future in Christ Jesus. I worked at and I’m still working at being more like my new nature. Christ in me, the hope of glory! I didn’t like me, I didn’t like the things my old personality produced. I begged Him to change even my facial expressions, I asked for a softness to my face. I didn’t smile much as a teenager or young adult. So that was important to me.
Life had hardened me both inside and out. I didn’t know how badly that affected my personality. For years I carried that hardness over into my Christian life. I had no idea about the joy of the Lord. No wonder I was weak in so many areas of my life. The examples I had weren’t any better so it took years to realize that I didn’t have to settle for “this is who I am, deal with it!” I had no concept of what being a new creation was, I had a works relationship with Jesus. Then I was introduced to the Holy Spirit and my personality and life was forever transformed. What joy I’ve found in discovering the grace of God. Doing the right things even for the wrong reason is useless. God, in His great love and mercy towards me, gave me a life transforming introduction to His Word. I learned about myself looking through His eyes. I’m not the same person, and it’s all because of Jesus.
You know I never write these messages without pointing you to the Word, you also know by now that I write what I’m told. I never know how it’s going to turn out, but I’m never disappointed in the outcome. The apostle Paul had a young protege named Timothy. Paul considered Him a spiritual son. But Timothy had a personality of timidity. He needed constant encouragement and had to be reminded of who he was. Not everyone is as bold as Paul. And I’m sure he was a little intimidating at times. I get it because I was never timid. I was more like Paul in my personality. But God allowed a thorn called “dying to the old personality“ to humble Paul. 2 Corinthians 12. And He allowed my “l will never!” To humble me as I saw me doing the very things I said I wouldn’t do, all because I didn’t know I needed His grace to do all things. He didn’t take our boldness, He perfected it.
Back to Timothy. Let’s look at his life and progress. One of the many things Paul reminded Timothy was this:
“I am writing to Timothy, my dear son. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace. Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again. I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.”
2 Timothy 1:2-8 NLT
Why would he remind Timothy that he has not been given a Spirit of fear? Because it’s obvious he was afraid. What was he afraid to do? He probably thought he would never be able to live up to the confidence Paul had in him. He didn’t want to disappoint his mentor. He was a young pastor of an older group of converts. He had to show courage and leadership despite his youth. If he didn’t have a Paul in his life he probably would never have lasted. Most young Christians that fizzle out, even though they have shown a love for the things of God, do so because there is no strong spiritual mentoring. Paul continues;
“So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was His plan from before the beginning of time—to show us His grace through Christ Jesus. And now He has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.”
2 Timothy 1:8-10, 13-14 NLT
His greatest cheerleader was in prison. I’m sure Timothy was thinking about being imprisoned himself because of his association with Paul. So Paul had to appeal to the change in Timothy and not the old timid Timothy so the enemy wouldn’t use his old personality against him. We need strong people in our lives to help us stay focused on who we are and not who we were. Here’s another encouraging word from Paul;
“Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God.”
1 Timothy 1:18-20 NLT
He taught him what to look out for, to keep his conscience clear from being caught up in false teachings and to be discerning of those even in the church who have a different agenda. Oh that there were more Paul’s in the church! He taught him how to recognize and choose godly leaders, how to identify false teachers, and how to pray for leaders. He encouraged him to remain in the Word. We’re reading it today, but young Timothy had to cling to those words to overcome his timid personality.
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”1 Timothy 4:12-16 NLT
A good mentor will leave no stone unturned, they’ll cover all the bases. Dotting every I and crossing every T. As you read through first and second Timothy, which I encourage you to do, you’ll find that Timothy overcame his personality weaknesses to become a trusted minister in the church. Paul had this to say about him.
“If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News.”
Philippians 2:19-22 NLT
Wow! What a testimony to great mentoring!
So have your personality weaknesses been hijacked by the enemy? It’s time to find a godly mentor who will encourage and walk you through to recognizing your full potential in Christ. What we were born with is only worth keeping if it serves the purposes of God. Lose it by being transformed in the spirit of your mind through the Word of God. Timothy had a Paul, but there are great spiritual mentors that God has in place to help you navigate the personality clashes. He doesn’t want you speaking the lies of the enemy about yourself. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17 you’re brand spanking new! The old is gone, the new is here. You don’t need to keep the old man to survive. You don’t need to protect yourself by pretending to be hard and unapproachable. God's got you. Take on His personality you can be vulnerable without being weak. You can be bold without being brash. But you can be everything He wants you to be, when you need to be. Taking on His personality traits will attract others to Him and away from us.
Here’s a familiar list of personality crutches from scripture. We can all find ourselves in their stories;
Jeremiah was too young
Abraham was too old
Moses was too criminal
Peter was too impulsive
James was too analytical
John was too emotional
Paul was a persecutor of Christians
Rahab was a prostitute and a liar
Mary Magdalene was demon possessed
Yet somehow they all made it to God’s Hallowed Word as heroes and teachers of the faith. We’ve all learned from their stories that our personalities are nothing but tools in the hands of a righteous potter who somehow knows how to change our weaknesses into strengths for His glory. So drop the act, embrace the change, and go change your world for Christ.
The world remembers your past. God writes your future.
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
September 8, 2021