A couple of weeks ago, I visited a different church with my family. My own church I normally go to is awesome and rock-solid, though I may be a tiny bit biased since I’ve been going there all my life. In my mind, no church could possibly be more reliable and faithful to the Word of God as my church is. So, when I’m visiting a church that’s new to me, I tend to keep my guard up for anything I may disagree with. It’s kind of a bad habit since I’m supposed to be there to learn, but it is still good to be vigilant.
Anyways, it was a lovely church, and very friendly; similar to my church in quite a few ways. The sermon was great! (Of course, it doesn’t match up to my pastors’ sermons.) ;) Something struck me as very thought-provoking.
The sermon was on being part of a church body. The pastor started out with an illustration based on an article he read (this one, I believe). He said that according to the article, where you sit in an airplane is a big deal. Aisle people are flighty introverts and window people are privacy-valuing dreamers. The very tiny leftover percentage are middle seat people. Extroverts--“considerate,” and “highly evolved”. The point of his illustration was that everyone in the church should be a middle seat Christian.
A question arose for me: Does God call us to be extroverts? I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh with my dad, so I was skeptical. To answer this question, we must answer a few other questions first.
What are extroverts? And while we’re at it, What are introverts? Some quick definitions for those of you who aren’t familiar with the whole introvert-extrovert terminology:
Extroverts are energized by being with people. They are often seen are outgoing, social, and expressive.
Introverts are energized by time alone. They’re seen as quiet, aloof people; lone wolves. I am an example of an introvert. =)
Now, from what I’ve observed, there are pretty much two viewpoints you can take on the question, Does God call us to be extroverts?.
Viewpoint A: Yes. Being like Christ absolutely means being an extrovert, even if you don’t like it. You need to fellowship with anybody and everybody. You need to always be in the crowd, building relationships.
Well, actually, Christ liked to get his time alone too… (Luke 5:15-16, ESV: But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.)
Viewpoint B: No. If you don’t fellowship with others, that isn’t your sin nature. That’s your personality. You do you.
I don’t really agree with this one either. Just take a look at what we know that God calls us to do:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. - Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
Ok, introverts can “consider how to stir one another to love and good works”. And some are great at encouraging, especially one-on-one. But, if you look at it from a specific angle, “not neglecting to meet together” falls under “socializing,” aka “extroverting.”
This passage, combined with Luke 5:15-16, falls under another viewpoint.
Viewpoint C: Know your personality and play off your strengths. Don’t exhaust yourself--that makes it a lot easier to fall into temptation. But take advantage of your church, and build friendships too. If you call God’s commands for the Christian “extroverting”, then yes, you are called to extrovert. But God also calls us introverts to be introverted, and spend time meditating on the Word and in prayer. Even Jesus got time alone.
This is my viewpoint. As an introvert, it is super important to understand that God calls us to fellowship. God calls us to go outside our comfort zones if we need to and do some hard things. If we cut ourselves off from all other human beings, we are neglecting some important commands.
But it is also crucial to know that God created your personality, and He can use your introversion for good, too. Of course, your personality is no excuse for being selfish or neglecting to fellowship. Recognize and fight those sins. At the same time, be the introvert you are. Embrace one-on-one friendships. Be independent, thoughtful, observant, and considerate. Own your personality.
What do you think about this subject? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?