There is a problem. The common thought is that in order to serve God and be successful in ministry you must be an extrovert.
When assigning volunteers for leadership positions extroverts are usually preferred while introverts are “second-option” members in the church leadership world.
Brash, loud, and sometimes obnoxious get the nod. Quiet, shy, and sensitive are often placed behind curtains, in rooms where they are not leading masses.
Susan Cain in her book “Quiet” says this, “Introversion — along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness — is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.”
Often we make the mistake to focus only on a particular type. We love to hear about Apostle Paul and imagine how charismatic he was as he traveled and preached all over. We admire Peter the disciple for his boldness and daring personality. God used them powerfully, but does that mean He didn’t utilize the talents of His “quiet followers”?
Do you prefer your own company to that of others? Do you need time before and after socializing? Are you very selective with your social calendar? Do you prefer a quiet evening at home? Are you quiet in a crowd? Do you always have an escape plan? Do you want true connection because small talk makes you sick? Do you wish that in addition to blocking sight, the walls of your office would block sound and other evidences of human existence? If so, you are likely an introvert.
I believe God designed a specific plan for you and wants to utilize your talents regardless if you are an extrovert or an introvert. After all, God used just as many introverted people in the Bible as extroverts!
Although I cannot determine if many Bible characters were introverts for sure, it seems to me the way they behaved gives the impression they were not extroverts.
Think Moses. He was up on the mountain for seven days waiting for God to converse with him (Exodus 24:16). By himself, away from people, for days without a conversation. If that is not an advantage of being an introvert, then I don’t know what is!
Think Isaac, who moved tents to avoid conflict (Gen. 26:21); Jacob, the “indoorsy twin” (Gen. 25:7); Joshua, who God kept telling to be strong and courageous (Deut. 31:7), no extrovert need to be told that twice! Think Jeremiah, the weeing prophet, which shows melancholic temperament, or Jonah who would risk traveling to the unknown to avoid public speaking (Jonah 1:3), and some argue John the Apostle, the disciple who was alone so long so as to have been able to receive all those Revelations.
Think about it, you are an introvert because in a world like this, God needs people like you who will actually be willing to be quiet enough to be interested in what He has to say, and that is difficult when you like talking too much.
Whether you’re an ‘innie’ or an ‘outie’, as you can see, there were a lot of confident introverts out there, and God had a plan and a place for each. The same is true today.
When thinking in terms of Christianity, the absolute categorization of either an “introvert ideal” or an “extrovert ideal” falls flat. This is because there is both an introverted and an extroverted component to the Gospel (You are called to develop a personal relationship with the Lord and at the same time to share the Good News with everyone around).
In her book, Susan Cain also states introverts are not only just as normal as everyone else, they actually have important—even critical—contributions to make to culture and society. In fact, we should reconsider the whole “extrovert ideal” in favor of a more balanced culture that draws on the strengths of introverts and extroverts alike.
I believe this is true in the church as well. Part of the problem here is one of categorization and “labels”.
Rosa Parks was not a loud, bold, brash woman who stood up for injustice with a iron will. Her obituary said she was “soft-spoken, small in stature, timid and shy… but with the courage of a lion”.
My former teachers, Adventist historians, Dr. Dennis Fortin and Dr. Jerry Moon in “The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia” describe Ellen and her brother Robert as having very similar temperaments. Ellen herself described her brother as having a “meek way” and being timid. Ellen, like Robert, was introverted.
I think we need to hear from the timid and courageous ones.
I think we need to follow in the steps of the quiet yet bold ones.
If you consider yourself an introvert, you are an amazing blessing to our church family!