There are endless lists of traits of excellent leaders. Books too numerous to count have been written on key leadership attributes every leader should develop. Brad Jenkins, Lead Pastor of Anthem Church in Tulsa Oklahoma, deals with one trait which is often missing in these lists–BOLDNESS. Brad writes to Christians in general, but this trait most certainly applies to leaders as well.

Guest Post by Brad Jenkins

I just googled “virtues of the Christian life.” It produced results like faith, love, patience, hope, honesty, and humility. I take no issue with any of those. Each is essential. I have a problem with what’s missing: Boldness.

Boldness is an overlooked virtue of the Christian life and is often missing from many Christian’s daily lives. And that’s a problem.

  • Without boldness, you cannot walk by faith and not by sight.

  • Without boldness, you cannot say no to sin and yes to God.

  • Without boldness, you cannot faithfully follow Jesus over a lifetime.


You may have gone to a beach and seen the sign: “No lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk.” In Acts, we see Jesus’ followers living out their faith, serving people, and praying at their own risk.

Acts is the history book of the first Christians and churches. They were experiencing all kinds of opposition and persecution. Christians could be hunted down, dragged out of their homes, beaten, and even murdered for their faith.

In Acts 3, Peter and John walk to the temple to pray. A man who had been lame from birth asks them for money. If you’re Peter or John, what do you do? Maybe give him some spare change? That would be a reasonable response.

Peter looks at the man and says, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” and “instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk … When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” (Acts 3:6-10).


Peter had seen Jesus heal people, but as far as we know, he had never healed anyone. He could have doubted his ability, but he boldly prayed for the man, and his prayer forever changed the man’s life. Peter’s boldness unleashed a miracle.

Because of the miracle, a huge crowd gathered. If you’re Peter, what do you do? Maybe go around high-fiving everyone?

Peter proceeds to preach Jesus to the crowds, imploring them to, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19-20). We’re told that “many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).

That was so bold of Peter – remember, the early Christians were persecuted. The religious leaders showed up and were “greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day” (Acts 4:2-3).

The next day, they called Peter and John into court and demanded, “By what power or what name did you do this?” These are the same people who had arrested, threatened, and then crucified Jesus. So, what would you do? Maybe say a quick, “I’m sorry. We’ll never do that again!”

Peter says, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead … Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10, 12).

That is so bold of Peter. In response, the religious leaders command Peter and John to stop speaking of Jesus, “But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

Peter and John realized their lives were in danger, so they got together with all their Christian friends to pray. If you were them, what would you pray? Maybe, “Lord, protect us! Keep us safe! Defeat our enemies!”

Instead, they pray, “Lord, enable Your servants to speak your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29). That prayer may be surprising, but God’s response isn’t. “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).

God loves to respond when his people pray for boldness.


When I think about why Peter, John, and the other Christians were so bold, love is the only reason that makes sense. They loved Jesus so much that they wanted everyone to know him. They loved people so much, they wanted to bless them, and the ways you bless people – by sharing the gospel with them, giving generously, serving passionately – all require boldness.

If we’re going to love God and people fully, we will need to be bold. There is no other way. So, how do we build boldness?


The religious leaders thought they could intimidate Peter and John into submission, but they couldn’t. We’re told, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Peter and John were not trained public speakers or Navy Seals; they were fishermen from a small town. What transformed them into bold witnesses for Jesus? They had been with Jesus. Being with Jesus made them bold.

You can too. We are invited to “come boldly” (Hebrews 4:16) to Him. As you spend time with him – for instance, through reading the gospels and praying – his boldness will rub off on you, and people will notice.


Before Peter begins his bold response to the religious leaders’ threats, it says, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…”

Remember, Peter is the guy who, when intimidated by a “servant girl,” denied even knowing Jesus. What transformed him into someone who wouldn’t stop preaching Jesus and was willing to die for him? Between his denial and his boldness in Acts 4 comes Acts chapter 2, when he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

You can too. If you have given your life to Jesus, he’s given his life to you. And he invites you to let his Holy Spirit guide your life and empower you to live for him. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is precisely that – an ongoing supernatural filling that allows you to overflow in the world with his love. Boldness is evidence that you are filled to overflowing.

You have the Holy Spirit, but if you want to be bold, ask for more of the Holy Spirit!


The early Christians faced persecution and perhaps death for preaching boldly, so they prayed for the courage to speak with even greater boldness.

You can too. Everything in our culture pulls us towards being comfortable consumers, but God calls us to be courageous contributors.

I wonder if what helped the first Christians pray for boldness is that their leaders (like Peter and John) learned boldness from Jesus. Jesus taught boldly, confronted religious hypocrisy and abuse boldly, loved boldly, and boldly died and rose again. When you follow a bold leader, you want to be bold. If you’re not, you pray for boldness!

So, let’s do that. Let’s pray for boldness. And wait with expectancy for God to answer.


In Acts 17:6, the early Christians were called “those who have turned the world upside down.”

What would people say about you?

I’ve realized in my own life that my impact tends to be proportionate to the God-given boldness I am walking in.

Jesus is looking for people who are committed to living boldly for him.

If we spend time with Jesus, are filled with the Holy Spirit, and ask God for boldness, we’ll do things we previously lacked the courage to do. Our lives won’t make sense to the outside world, but they might turn it upside down.

And that’s exactly what Jesus wants us to do.


  1. Have you ever asked God for more of the Holy Spirit? What do you think might happen in your life if you consistently asked God to fill you with his Spirit?

  2. What opportunity to be bold for Jesus have you missed out on in the past? You probably weren’t bold because you imagined a worst-case scenario that might happen. What was the best-case scenario you ignored?

  3. What opportunities might you have to boldly love God or people today? Take a moment right now to pray for boldness and then take action.