Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hi, my name is Katie. And I'm an introvert.

Someone once said that in Corporate America “…everyone knows it’s important to be an extrovert, and troublesome to be an introvert. So people work real hard at looking like extroverts, whether that’s comfortable or not.” I think the same can be said for the church today. The church has taken on the secular cultures idealistic personality and tweaked it into the energetic and preppy Christian stereotype. We’ve formed our church services, small groups, and ministries around people being extroverted. We don’t take time for quiet reflection in church anymore. Instead we fill every moment with loud music, preaching and shaking hands. There is a very apparent push in modern churches today to conform to a cookie cutter model. And it’s not only a shame for Christian introverts who have more to offer then an imitation of cultures ideal, but it also denies God the glory for making us all unique. If God wanted all Christians to be extroverts, the Holy Spirit would transform us at salvation. Instead, I think God’s design is to use the quiet and the loud, the introspective and outgoing, the mild and the wild if you will.

“Its imperative to understand that becoming a Christian is not tantamount with becoming an extrovert.” ~Adam S McHugh.

There is no cookie cutter ideal Christian personality. However, as an introvert I’ve been told my whole life that because I’m not outgoing, outspoken and social enough, I’m not a good Christian. Church tells me that my worth in ministry is tied to my ability to be the first to greet a new visitor or share my deepest convictions with a small group. I’ve been guilted into believing that something is wrong with me because I don’t fit into the Christian archetype. The problem with that mindset is that it not only alienates natural introverts, but it also puts guilt and shame on a personality trait that God himself designed. Asking an introvert to become an extrovert is asking them to be disingenuous. I think one of the biggest influences Christians have on culture is our vulnerability and honesty. If we plaster on a fake characteristic just to fit into the churches idea of a ‘good Christian’, then we’re living a lie.

“There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” ~ Romans 8:1

Being reticent in today’s popular church culture can be seen as a weakness- an obstacle you must overcome on your spiritual journey. Yet the incredible thing is that God has designed each of us with specific personality traits and giftings. He created as all in his image- to reflect his characteristics. Christ exhibited both extroverted and introverted qualities. He showed us the power of being outspoken when he spoke boldly and with passion to thousands of people. He showed us the need for reflection, quiet and solitude when he spent 40 days and 40 nights alone in the desert and when he prayed alone in the garden of Gethsemane.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” ~1 Cor 12:4-6

Being Christ-like does not mean we have to fit into our cultures ideal personality type. It means that we each submit our hearts to the lordship and authority of Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to mold and make us into who He wants us to be. For an introvert, that might mean getting out of their comfort zone and sharing God’s love in a more outspoken way. For an extrovert, it might mean being quiet and allowing someone else to speak. Either way, we all have our own journeys to walk. And each of them will look different. We all have different things to offer and specific calling on our lives. We shouldn’t be held under the thumb of condemnation, no matter what our personality type is.

“… God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” ~ 1 Cor 12:18-20

So rejoice in who God made you to be! He loves you and sees you as his spotless child. Your personality is not a mistake, and you do not have to live an unauthentic life in order to meet someone else’s expectations.  You have something to offer; and it doesn’t mean you have to be someone you’re not in order to do it. Whether you are quiet and soft spoken, or loud and outgoing, you were made in the image of the Creator.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them…” ~Genesis 1:27

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