Fellow introverts: do you ever feel like the church worships extroverts?
I’ve been an introvert for as long as I can remember. It’s not that I don’t like people or enjoy their company; I do. But I am energized by my alone time. I have a finite social battery, and once it runs out, it’s time for me to go home. Because of this, in combination with my anxiety, I’ve never been the type of person who is comfortable starting a conversation with a stranger. (I’ve trained myself to be able to do it now when needed, but it’s never been within my comfort zone). And I DEFINITELY didn’t want to start a conversation about something controversial (like, for instance, the gospel).
As a young Christian, I interpreted this tendency not as a personality trait, but a lack of boldness. I thought I was simply ashamed of my Savior and didn’t have enough faith to speak up. I envied and admired those who could proclaim the truth with ease in any setting, unbothered by what people may think. Not only were they, I thought, better witnesses, but upon entering a new church setting, they could fit into the crowd and make friends almost immediately. I, on the other hand, was more likely to go unnoticed and never really be spoken to.
This insecurity plagued me for a long time. But believe it or not, it was Jesus’s parable of the talents that began my change of heart.
Found in Matthew 25, the parable of the talents recounts a group of workers entrusted with some of their boss’s money (a currency called talents). To one man, he gave five talents, to another, two, and another, one. The first two, out of gratitude, multiplied what they were given through investments, while the last man, out of fear of the boss, buried his share and returned only what he was given.
What I noticed is that Jesus’s anger came from what was done with the talents, not what each person had. He was equally pleased with the man who multiplied two talents as the one who multiplied five.
So why would God be any less pleased with me using my introverted gifts than with the extrovert using theirs?
The church is one body with many diverse parts. We need quiet, contemplative introverts just as much as we need bold extroverts. Here are a few things we introverts contribute to your churches.
We See What (and Who) Others Don’t
My junior year of college, I went on a spring break mission trip called Beach Reach. Basically, we went to the party town of Panama City Beach and gave free van rides to drunk, partying college kids. We were tasked to share the gospel with those still sober enough to understand us. In each van rode five people with different positions. The person in the “hot seat” was tasked solely with sharing the gospel.
I was never in the hot seat. I rode in the back as security.
I thought that not being chosen for the hot seat made me “less than.” Until one night.
A large group of loud, drunk college kids piled into the van. My friend in the hot seat began a conversation with the passengers closest to her, while I rode in the back with three others. Of those three, I noticed a young lady silently crying. She didn’t want to talk, but I was able to pray with her.
If that hurting young woman had wandered into a church, the extroverted, charismatic believer may have been too busy socializing to notice– not that there’s anything wrong with socializing. But we need people who are still and quiet enough to notice those suffering in silence.
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