Oh my fellow introverts, have I got a challenge for you! This post is going to be filled with a little tough love.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve read a lot about introverts, specifically introverts and the church.
- Are Churches Isolating Introverts?
- 14 Ways to Handle a Christian Introvert.
- Introverts in the “Imago Dei?”
This last article particularly got to me. The author, Richard Beck, states,
But introverts fare poorly in these sociable churches. The demand to visit, mix, and share with strangers taxes them. Worse, given that these social activities are declared to be “spiritual,” introverts feel morally judged and spiritually marginalized. As if their very personality was spiritually diseased.
As a fellow introvert, I’m going to tell you one thing. Get over it.
Now, before you think I’m being overly harsh, let me tell you I’ve had to give myself the same speech a million times. I’m one of the biggest introverts you will ever meet, and when each Sunday our pastor invites us to greet those around us, my heart starts pounding, and I’d love to run for the door.
But I don’t.
Because church is not all about me. I think sometimes we get the wrong idea about church. We think, “What can I get out of the service this morning?” rather than thinking, “How can I glorify God at church this morning?”
Yes, I love it when I’m overcome with emotion during worship. I love it when a particular sermon strikes a chord with me. But my main purpose for being at church is to worship God with my church family. And how can I effectively worship if I’m focused on how I don’t fit in? Or on how overwhelming it is to be around three hundred cheery people?” Or on how uncomfortable it is to pray aloud in Sunday School?
Believe me, at times I feel all of those things. But all of those things have something in common. They are focused on me, me, me.
When I consciously focus on God and others, I find I’m not as overwhelmed by my introvertedness. When I sing, I close my eyes and pretend it’s just me and God. Because really, when I’m singing it’s just me…singing to God.
When I greet those around me, I try really hard to focus on the other. Who are they? What brought them to church today? By focusing on making the other person feel welcome and loved at church, I forget my own discomfort.
When I pray aloud during Sunday School, I think about the subject I’m praying for. The list of prayer requests is often long and serious. Much more serious than the way I trip over my own tongue when I pray. And God knows what I’m saying, even if the words don’t come out right.
Like it or not, church is a social place. We are social beings, even if we’re introverted. We need our church family to encourage us, to pray for us, and to hold us accountable. And we nee to be encouraging our church family, praying for them, and holding them accountable.
I’m not saying you have to be involved in every social activity that comes your way. But, introverts, we need to put ourselves out there. We need to get to know others and let them get to know us. We need to step outside of our comfort zones.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says,
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Am I saying being introverted is a weakness? Not really. Like any personality type, being introverted has it’s strengths and weaknesses.
We’re typically good listeners, good thinkers, and loyal friends. Frequently we’re not so good in large gatherings, like Sunday morning worship services.
So what is the secret to thriving in the church as an introvert? It’s simple. Not easy, but simple.
Use your strengths to glorify God. But don’t hide behind your weaknesses and say church isn’t for you. Allow God to overcome your weaknesses. You’d be surprised at how He can use you on a Sunday morning. Just give Him a chance. When you are weak, He makes you strong. And when He does, all the glory goes to God. And that’s the way it should be.
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This post is linked at Essential Things Devotions.