Does God care if you’re an introvert or an extrovert? Does one personality type please Him more than another? Is one personality a more effective evangelist?
A couple things recently have caused me to wonder. First, I have always referred to myself as an extrovert. I love people, I’m bubbly, animated, talkative, a people-pleaser and I can’t stay home a full day alone. In fact, the minute I’m snow-bound or otherwise shut up indoors, I’m bound to try and go out (usually to my detriment) just to make sure that I’m not really stuck by myself.
Recently, I have continued a life-long bad habit of over committing. I try to make sure that I’m never lonely or bored. So I promise to work this shift, meet that person, take on that volunteer opportunity, do this Bible study, etc. Finally, I guess I’m getting old, I suddenly realize that when I get that busy all I want is to be alone. Suddenly, I crave those long mornings in Bible study when I don’t have to be anywhere before noon. I miss the moments of cuddling with my puppy and the hours to experiment in my kitchen. I’ve come to a crisis of identity. Am I still an extrovert or am I a closet introvert?
Basically, an extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people. This is the opposite of an introvert who is energized by being alone.
I don’t feel like I could live in the extreme of either circumstance. But truthfully, as much as I love being with people, I feel inflated after a couple hours alone, with either a sermon or Christian music playing. What about you?
Last Sunday, our pastor confessed to being an introvert. Obviously, he’s serving the Lord and serving people and he’s not alone all the time. So, is there a right way to be?
God has blessed me in my extroverted moments. I get chatty on this blog and I comment on other’s blogs. I have tried to encourage my readers to be vulnerable, outreaching Christians. A few months ago, I gave away 2 Starbucks gift cards per week, asking the recipients to take a friend out to coffee and share the love of Jesus with them. That request introduced me to a special friend.
When one of the recipients of the gift cards provided me with her address, I was floored to find out that she lives in my home town! I wrote a quick note, stuffed the envelope and stuck it in the mail. Imagine how shocked I was four weeks later when they came back to me. Not a “return to sender” but a freshly stuffed envelope with a full-page personal note, a gift card TO me, a couple beautiful drawings and a cash gift. Stunned. Shocked, Humbled, Grateful.
The card was gracious. She thanked me for reaching out to her. In return she extended kindness to me on one of those days when I was feeling friendless and lonely. Now, I’ve sent her something and we tag each other in blog posts (:
Another new, unexpected friendship began about a year ago. An elderly couple was dining at Panera just behind me as I was working. When they rose to leave, the lady commented on my Bible. “It’s so nice to see someone in the Word.” One little sentence struck a quickly deepening conversation. I must have stalled them for 30 minutes as we uncovered that her hubby was retired military, I told them about my husband, my writing, my church. She asked me about joining my church’s Bible study. We exchanged phone numbers and bid farewell.
I didn’t see Bob or Shirley again until yesterday. She hadn’t returned my phone call and I didn’t want to be a pest. But when our paths crossed in Panera again, in our same seats, Shirley jumped up, spry for a 76-year-old woman. Shirley explained that her daughter had had surgery and she herself had battled some health issues. But she definitely still wanted a chance to study the Bible with my church and to become better friends. We traded numbers again and said goodbye with a genuine hug.
Then there’s Fred. My atheist friend at Panera who gives me practical advice and driving directions around D.C. We met when he pointed me to the only electrical outlet at Panera. Since then we’ve exchanged small gifts, talked for half an hour at a time and grinned at each other across the dining room. (Don’t worry, he’s my granddad’s age.)
All these examples only serve to explain that being extroverted, needing to be around people and to have relationships, has provided me myriad opportunities to learn from others and to share the love of Christ with them. If I had been cuddled up at home alone, I would never have met these people.
From the other side of the isle: Jesus often escaped to be alone. (Luke 5:16) A Christian will never have the nourishment or energy to grow in their walk with the Lord if they are always being stuffed with the company of and interaction with other people. In Psalm 46:10 God commands us to be still and know that He is God. Stillness is not an attribute often exhibited by extroverts.
My researched conclusion is this: it’s not OK to say, “That’s just the way I am.” We can’t stay the same. We will all be born with a bent, but it is the beauty and glory of Jesus that constantly straightens us and changes us to be more like Him.