May 15, 2013

“Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!  Glory in his holy; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!”  Psalm 105:2-3

If you had a choice between attending a social function by yourself or going to the dentist, which would you choose?

That is an easy question for me.  I will pick the dentist every time…as long as it is only for a teeth cleaning.  I cringe at the thought of attending a gathering of unfamiliar people.  These meetings are inevitably filled with awkwardness and shallow conversations.  I begin to develop excuses at the mere suggestion of attending a “meet and greet”, a social mingling, a networking party and any other activities with the intent on “getting to know ya’ll”.  I have nothing against having friends or meeting new people.  I just do not really care for the process of meeting new people.

I am an introvert. 

I have been an introvert for as long as I can remember and I have always disliked this part of my personality.  I watch people who are at ease in a crowd and want to be like them.  I have a friend who loves to go to events where he can meet new people.  He looks at it as an adventure.  I find that mindset difficult to comprehend.  All he has to smell is a hint of an invitation and he is through the door, while all I am looking for is a pretext to go home.  I have been criticized for not being as hospitable as a Christian “on mission” should be.  I have mustered my courage and endured many a social function hoping that it would get easier with practice.  It has not.

I have prayed many times for God to change me.  I have repented of the fact that I don’t get really excited about hanging out with people.  I have wondered if I am obedient to all the scriptures that call us to love our brothers and sisters.  I have been convinced that if God would just make me more extroverted I would then be of better use.  I have mulled on the darker nights whether the failure of the Church plant that I pastored was not in part due to me and my introverted personality.  The comparison of myself to those who shepherd well has never left me encouraged; maybe that was why it did not work out.

I recently read this article of an interview with John Piper, How Introverted Pastors Love.  I was reminded that when God made me, He did not make a mistake.  It is rather limited thinking to infer that God cannot use a shy person or that the best way to practice our faith is hanging out in a coffee shop for hours on end.  All things are possible through God – the use of an introvert in His greater plan is a very small thing.  God can use anyone who is walking in His Spirit.  Church history is full of introverted persons of faith.  God did not need to change these people into extroverts for them to be of use in His kingdom.

We need to remember that to really love others as Christ is an intentional action of faith.  Therefore, the prayer of the introvert is the same as the prayer of the extrovert –

Lord, please make this disposition to be with people that you have given me be a blessing to others.

We have a tendency to believe that a person is love when they are in the presence of other Christians.  There is no guarantee that a person placed in a group gathering of extroverts will feel loved.  The extroverts at that gathering have to be intentional in their own purpose for people to truly feel loved.  They have to have the right focus in mind for being at the gathering in order for their personal disposition to be of best use.

In a similar manner, the introvert has to be intentional in his purpose of loving his brothers and sisters in Christ using his disposition to its greatest manifestation.  It will be different than the extrovert.  An introvert can love others in ways that may be difficult for an extrovert.  We need to be thankful for God giving us the skills that we have and not focusing on the skills that we don’t have.  He did not make a mistake.

We all have a small niche for which God has called us to in the completion of His wonderful story.  Tim Challies wrote a short biography on Charlotte Elliott, the writer of the hymn, Just as I Am.  It is a great reminder that God uses all of his children whether they are introverts, extroverts, or invalids.  May we, as introverts, extroverts and everything in between, be less concerned about form and more concerned about living our faith in the power of Christ to His great glory.  May we glory in His holy name with the voice and personality that He has purposefully given us.

Take what you see (in the scriptures), and then if you’re a writer, you write it.  If you’re a preacher, you preach it.  If you’re a hanger-outer, tell the hanger-outers; what you saw this morning.  John Piper

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for making me just as I am.  Forgive me for thinking that I could bring you more glory and praise if only I were different.  Thank you for using me as I am.  Thank you for giving me a unique voice to sing of your praises and to tell of your wonderous works.  May the practice of the precious gift of my faith be pleasing to you.  I praise  you O’ Lord and pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.


  1. If a quality in a person makes him a minority, the larger (majority) group of people might frown upon him, because he/ she does not belong/ join the group. But is it really necessary? To do something, just so it is acceptable to a larger number of people? Maybe it is okay to be different, okay to not want to do ‘fun’ things that you really don’t find fun at all, okay to find the silence of your own company peaceful

  2. […] have written about being an introvert before (Hello, My Name is JD and I’m an Introvert). Yet, I still find it an embarrassing admission that even now with so many gray hairs in my beard, […]

  3. […] I found myself questioning my obedience and asking God to change my personality.  I then remembered something that I had written… it is always odd when a past post  preaches to the present you.  I was reminded that I am who God created.  Allow me to introduce myself once again, “Hello my name is JD and I’m an introvert.” […]

  4. […] However, that was never the main reason.  You might remember my introvert issues that I have blogged about.  The whole idea of showing up, imposing myself upon a group of strangers was a high barrier […]

  5. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more introverted…or maybe I just became more ok with being who I am.

  6. What an encouraging message! Thanks for sharing on a subject. I can so relate. By all the other comments many others can too. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are the works of the the Lord!!! Blessings…

  7. Interesting article. As someone at the far end of the introvert spectrum, I can tell you that even though I do eventually become relatively comfortable with people once I get to know them, I still dislike social functions, very definitely dislike small talk, and very much enjoy my alone time. (People assume that people like me feel lonely, but loneliness isn’t something that I’ve ever experienced; we are energized by our alone time as much as extroverts are energized by being around others). Frankly, I find extroverts annoying with their incessant need to interact with and relate to others and their insistence that they are the standard against whom the rest of us are to be measured.

    I recognize that Christianity is a communal faith, that the Church is a community of faith, the people that God is gathering unto Himself for His glory. I don’t have to like it (there was a time when I strongly resented Jesus’ statement that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst and I protested “Why isn’t He present when there’s just one of us?”), but I do have to adapt to it. Yet, there is as much a place in that community of faith for the introvert (even those of us at the far end of the spectrum) as there is for the much-celebrated extrovert.

    You might not find us standing on the street corner handing out tracts or striking up conversations, but we very often are the people others come to when they just need someone to listen to them and maybe respond with a word or two that speaks into their lives. (interestingly, absolute strangers have come up to me and started talking as I just stood or sat there listening, only occasionally responding with a few words here or there, often to speak something into their lives, often using the Socratic method to help them come to a resolution). Introverts often are better at practicing James’ admonition to be quick to listen and slow to speak (and some of us don’t do such a bad job at the slow to anger part of that passage either).

    Not-so-oddly, I can stand in a pulpit or in front of a classroom full of students and teach without any problem. It’s the one-on-one stuff that I don’t particularly like and don’t do so well with – though I do force myself to do it from time to time, particularly when I’m trying to practice my Spanish (I once traveled alone to Mexico City for a week exactly for that purpose).

    Introverts are sometimes accused of living life inside their heads, as if that’s somehow a bad thing. We are definitely thinkers. Many of us value the life of the mind and that is, for us, how we obey the commandment to love the Lord with all our mind. So often in Western Christianity, that part of the Great Commandment is cast aside as people like me are essentially told to check our brains at the door. J. P. Moreland and Mark Noll have written some excellent books on the subject and I very much appreciate the work they’ve done. (Though, that isn’t to say that extroverts can’t love the Lord with all their mind just as well as introverts).

    In the realm of missions, introverts are more likely to prefer “evangelizing” by how we live our lives, what some have called “lifestyle evangelism.” We might not vocalize much, but by living according to a Christian world view, we are showing people how Christianity is lived out in the day-to-day world. Of course, like the extroverts, we need to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us, as Peter commanded, which, as much as we might not like it, involves opening our mouths and talking to people.

    I think that we introverts need to stop feeling guilty for being introverts and stop letting those annoying extroverts presume to tell us there’s something wrong with us.

  8. Reblogged this on The Christian Mind.

  9. This speaks so powerfully to me. I have always felt guilty that I am not more outgoing. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Those of us who are extroverts appreciate you introverts – less competition when we want to talk! 🙂
    God doesn’t Xerox anything. Each one is a unique creation. I’ll bet if your wife turned you upside down and checked, she could read your Designer’s mark for you on your backside. 😉

    Love to read what you write.
    \ 🙂 /

  11. These words caught my attention: “We need to be thankful for God giving us the skills that we have and not focusing on the skills that we don’t have. He did not make a mistake.” Good advice, JD. The skills of an introvert include focusing on another person (because he doesn’t like attention on himself). And don’t there seem to be more talkers in this world than listeners? The introvert can offer the precious gift of a lisening ear, and demonstrate the love of Christ. He may be more likely to pick up on the needs of others also, because he’s not thinking about what he’s going to say next. You see? The skills of an introvert are very useful to the kingdom!

  12. As a fellow introvert I empathize, JD. But as you say, God made us intentionally diverse, so we must find ways to honor and serve Him, just as we are.Thanks for your timely encouraging post!

  13. Very true. I’m not quite as introverted as the stereotypical introvert, but I certainly have my days where I don’t have the energy to see anyone. Some days I push myself out of my comfort zone, some days I don’t. But introverts certainly do have something to offer!

  14. I just started reading Quiet by Susan Cain. I am learning what my strengths are, and find maybe I’m not so bad as I thought I was. Your post is very timely, thank you.

  15. God bless you, JD for this.
    Here I was worrying over the fact that I’m way too extroverted and reading your story, I’m beginning to see some blessings in the way God has made me. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Well done! Clearly, many of us relate to your post.
    I know I do.

  17. I’ve wanted to write on this topic also, but you’ve expressed things so well, why expound any further. Thanks for validating my thoughts!

  18. “We all have a small niche for which God has called us to in the completion of His wonderful story”. This is a statement of hope for me. I think I hold my breath around a lot of people and come up for air later. I default maybe too quickly to writing, fishing, my piano, and wandering the woods out back. here I recharge.

  19. JD, I totally agree about the crowded social gatherings. My husband enjoys them more than I do, but I avoid them. Only out of respect for him, I attend. Inevitably, though, God finds someone there I can connect with. He has been trying to make me see that for my introverted personality, my writing is not for the masses; rather, for the one. One here, one at a time gets it. He wants me to be grateful for the one He blesses through me. I will likely be writing about it soon! Blessings, always.

  20. Everyone thinks I am an extrovert, when in reality, I am not. I just want to be home with my computer, meeting people this way and sharing the love of Jesus from here. I love people, and when I know them, I am fine, I just love my quiet time with Jesus, the more, the better.

  21. Don’t ask God to change what He has created, you are the way you are for a reason, if it’s only to minister to other introverts. A sovereign God does everything by design. Accept yourself has a child of God and stand tall, your father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He Loves you just as you are, do you need mans approval ?

  22. Good post, thank you from an intrvert! Tip for meeting new people: be genuinely interested in them and encourage them to talk about themselves. You just have to listen.

  23. Wow I could never have guessed that you are an introvert. I do think of myself in some sense as an introvert but over the years in my instance, I think the heavy weight of concern for people has burdened me to reach out more towards others. My natural inclination is to be alone–with books! Thank you for this post.

  24. I was an introvert until I received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then, I became an extrovert. Go figure!

  25. We will feel our inadequacies in different ways, but this is also when God glorifies Himself the most. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

  26. I have actually heard people express the opinion that being introverted is a sin because it means you’re too focussed on yourself! Thanks for reminding your readers that those of us who are introverts were created this way by God.

  27. To a fellow introvert…I understand…completely! I recently read the book “Quiet” which does a marvelous job of fleshing out the characteristics of introverts. The author states that roughly 50% of the US population is made up of introverts. Somebody has to be a good listener–listening is loving, too. Cheers and may God use us introverts to His glory!

  28. Thank you for this very great reminder and encouragement to be secure and content in who we are. God Bless

  29. JD,

    Although I try my best to get outside of my comfort zone I too am a introverted person. I get annoyed with myself all the time because of this. I often wish I could be a normal person, because I am either super excited and freaking people out, or I am keeping to myself. Mostly the second one. Anyway, being awkward like this has made it a challenge to start my teen ministry, especially in modern American culture. Your post gave me hope. Thx…

    Logan fields

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