One of the wonderful claims of the Bible is that God is making a new nation out of all tribes, tongues, and nationalities. God’s Kingdom is a diverse nation that brings Him glory through the cacophony of differences found woven throughout. Often, when talking about diversity within the Church, differing personality types are overlooked. God’s Kingdom is also made up of extroverts and introverts. For extroverts, church life seemingly steers into their personality type.
For introverts, the Church can often feel stifling with its demands to be friendly and involved. However, the Bible commands all Believers to confess our faults to one another, bear each other’s burdens, and rejoice in each other’s happiness. At times, introverts can struggle to obey those commands. Below are four encouragements to help introverts become involved in the life of their church family. But first, a bit about myself.
I am an introvert. Many people would never guess that about me. My wife and I are known for having the gift of hospitality, which we don’t. To be clear, we frequently host large groups of people at our house, and the majority of our evenings are spent fellowshipping and ministering to members of our church family. That raises the question: How did an introvert convince everyone that he has the gift of hospitality? The short answer is that it’s only by God’s grace.
At the risk of undermining my efforts to help foster community and to minister to my church family, it’s a rare evening of hospitality that isn’t preceded by an afternoon of dreading that evening and wishing that I was going to have a quiet evening alone instead. I lead a small group, and most afternoons leading up to small group I contemplate “calling in sick.” I hate small talk. I do not want to meet people whom I do not know. I don’t want anyone touching me or getting in my space. Left to myself, I would never have anyone ask me how they can pray for me. The thing is, I recognize that my personality does not comport well with God’s command to love one another and to be involved in the lives of my church family members.
Importantly, though, after years of striving to obey God through the power of the Holy Spirit, my wife and I have discovered that obedience brings with it blessings that far outweigh any stress we may experience. So, I guess it could be said that we’ve developed the gift of hospitality through simple obedience.
4. Don’t Make Your Introversion Your Identity
We humans like to define ourselves. Quizzes that “reveal” aspects about ourselves are generally popular on social media sites. Books that help categorize things like our love languages and our personality types often clog bestseller lists. People frequently identify themselves by the sports team they root for, the region of the country they’re from, and even their preference for the thickness of pizza crust, to list three. And all those things are fine, and can even be helpful in learning how to better relate to others. And that’s the point.
As Christians, we’re called to serve one another, not ourselves. In Philippians 2:3, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “count others more significant than yourselves.” The ability to do so is dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit. First and foremost, Christians need to recognize and embrace that our identity is in Christ. Every other identity, including being an introvert, is to be submitted to the fact that we have been bought with a price and are Jesus Christ’s.
3. Recognize That We’re Called to Obey, Not Hide
Jesus told his followers that “by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for another” (John 13:35). Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t leave us floundering as to what that looks like.
Referenced at the beginning of this article, Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens.” In James 5, we’re commanded to pray for each other. And Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
All of those commands require getting to know one another beyond just a surface level. That, of course, requires opening up our hearts, our homes, and our lives to people. That’s an uncomfortable proposition for introverts; trust me, I get it. But, it’s how Christians are expected to live together in the community called the church. It’s not optional.
2. Find Ways to Serve That Force You Outside of Your Comfort Zone
As I wrote above, I dread meeting new people. Extending my hand and greeting visitors at church or even fellow members that I don’t know well is stressful. By God’s grace, I do it anyway. One of the things that I’ve done that has helped me get over the hurdle is to volunteer to be a greeter. Doing so removed the option. I had no choice but to obey God’s command to love people through getting to know people.
If, like me, you’re an introvert, find ways to volunteer at your church that require you to reach out to people and love them in ways that are outside of your comfort zone. Being a greeter, volunteering to help serve coffee or to take meals to shut-ins, leading discussion groups — the possibilities are many in most churches for ways to love others in ways that are outside of your introverted comfort zone.
1. Rest in the Promise That God’s Grace is Stronger Than Your Personality Type
Obedience isn’t necessarily easy, and God never promised that it would be. For introverts, obeying God’s command to live life together with their church family is stressful and can seem a daunting task. Thankfully, 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s “grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
That verse tells us that God is glorified when we depend on His grace in our weaknesses. It reveals our humble and submissive need for Him. While recognizing that many of God’s commands are uncomfortable for introverts, it’s vital that we also recognize that God will never ask us to do anything that He won’t also give us the grace and strength to accomplish. Submit your introversion to God and depend on His grace.