Last week when I mentioned being an introvert it made me think about a book I read called Introverts in the Church. I’ve forgotten how I even found the book because the author isn’t someone I was familiar with – probably just another one of those “random” happenings we all know really isn’t random .I do remember that I was intrigued by the title because the subject is one that seems to fall through the cracks when we discuss the issues we face in our walks – perhaps rightfully so, because:
1) arguably there are more pressing situations that need addressing
2) there just doesn’t seem to be many introverts in church culture
I really wanted to know what Adam McHugh had to say about it because not only is there tension between my introversion and church culture, the war also extends heavily to other areas of my life. I seem to be drawn to things that would be considered atypical for those of us who get a bit anxious when it comes to engaging people. I started competitive cheerleading when I was eight and did it until I was 22 years old. I was an instructor at huge cheerleading camps during my college summers. I majored in broadcast journalism. All of these things I did voluntarily and continued in them because I enjoyed them.
McHugh’s bio says he is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a spiritual director. He was once a hospice chaplain and an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff member. I figure he can relate to my dilemma.
And at the risk of sounding melodramatic I want to share some of what I got from the book with the hope that anybody who can relate will see a bit of light at the end of their tunnel.
First, McHugh did a great job of articulating the character traits of introverts.
A few of his many examples:
- We prefer to observe on the fringe rather than engage in the center.
- We are energized by solitude.
- We gauge our days by thoughts and reflections rather than interactions.
- Our silence is often confused with arrogance, condescension, anger, or judgement.
- Quiet is often the context for heartfelt worship.
He also talked about some possible introverts in the Bible.
- Mary, Luke 2:51
- Moses, Exodus 4:10
- Timothy, 2 Timothy 1:7
For me, one of the trademarks of a good Christian self-help book is the author pointing readers back to the One who made us the way we are. And that’s what we introverts need to understand and remember. This life is not all about us. Our own headspaces can be a paradise and a prison. It’s about Him. God knew what He was doing when He made a shy little girl with thick glasses want to yell and smile in front of huge crowds, and grow up to want to work in a business full of people with huge personalities. He knows the revolving door of internal and external conflicts that comes with each new activity, group of people, and set of circumstances will draw us closer to Him and mold us into the people we are supposed to be.
I have to admit I’m not quite there yet. There being that point in the Bible where James says we should consider it all joy when we encounter various trials (1:2) – whether it’s feeling misunderstood or wondering how I’ll ever fit in some situations. But in order to get there, I remind myself that the next verses say the testing of my faith produces endurance (1:3), and that endurance will have its perfect and complete result, lacking in nothing (1:4).
Midway through the book there’s a great quote we brooders should heed.
“Let God make you fully you. Rejoice in your God-given temperament and use it for God’s purposes.”
Rejoice. Use it for God’s purposes. I can get with that.
What about you? How is God using your personality type to mold you in life?