A little piece of information about me that you didn’t know; I’m an introvert. Now, the definition of an introvert (from Merriam Webster Dictionary) is “a typically reserved or quiet person who tends to be introspective and enjoys spending time alone”. I know you’re probably thinking “No way can Chris be an introvert.” Or maybe you’re thinking “But he’s so outgoing in the lobby or on the stage”.
Honestly, I love to speak on the stage. I’m not sure if you can tell, but it pumps me up to be up on stage speaking the words that God has put there for me. I love being able to connect people with Jesus in ways they didn’t expect, through His holy word, and through challenging them to live out their faith as they go out into the world. I am blessed to be living out the calling God has placed on my life and so I think that honor shows in my passion for speaking. Regardless of that passion, I still am introverted at heart.
I’ve taken many personality tests and most of them have shown me to either be in the introvert category and or just over the line into extrovert. I actually think my extrovert tendencies have been learned because of a need to succeed in life. I’ve learned to be outgoing when the situation calls for it. Yet, the place where I am most recharged is either by myself, or at home with my family and some very close friends. I read once that this has a title. I’m called an extroverted introvert.
I get energized by retreating and being alone or with people close to me, but I’m also energized by being around good friends. I may not be the first to talk in a large group or new social environment, but after I warm up, I could be the life of the party. Sometimes I am far more likely to say what’s on my mind (even when what’s on my mind is harsh) than to make small talk. I will talk to you and engage with you with a smile, and also be reflecting on whether or not you are feeling connected. The extroverted introvert.
Here's the really good news, there is nothing wrong with being an introvert. Now, society has often placed positive attributes on the extrovert (outgoing, friendly, full of energy) and negative connotations on the extrovert (shy, alone, unfriendly). The truth is, neither is better or worse than the other. Well, unless you’re an introvert thinking about having to be an extrovert, and vice versa. In which case, you’re panicking at the thought of living the way the other lives. Instead, these personality traits are uniquely given to you by your Father in heaven. For all you other introverts out there, don’t look at your personality as a problem, but rather as a way to better understand how you can connect with others more effectively.
Why am I telling you all of this? I don’t know, maybe because I think you sometimes just want to know something about the guy on stage you didn’t know. I think I’m telling you this, though, because I don’t want you to use your introverted personality as an excuse. There are many of us out there who say “I’m good on my own” or “I don’t want to engage in new stuff because it exhausts me”. Instead, I think scripture makes it clear we aren’t meant to do this life alone. In Ecclesiastes, we can read:
“9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
God is clear that we need each other. We need someone to lift us up when we need help. Yet, this isn’t the natural tendency. So, how do we do find this support?
I think Paul really understood this necessity. I believe that Paul was an introvert. I mean, come on, what other person would be so comfortable in prison? Yet, he knew the importance of a community of believers around each of us in a way where we could feel supported. Paul wrote to the following to the Jewish members of the church of his time. He said:
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 24-25
I think Paul knew that one day we would face the idea that we could get by on our own. That we would be in a place where people isolated themselves, tried to find their faith in solitude only, and didn’t turn to others for help. Instead, he reminds us that we NEED each other. We need to gather together, encourage one another, and most importantly show love to each other in the way we act.
If you are someone who is finding it difficult to lean into others and find a way of being in community, then I want to encourage you to not give up hope. There are so many places you can find that connection at White Oak. We have student ministry, young adult ministry at Ross and Colerain, life groups, and so many other places to connect.
If you are still struggling to find that place where you can connect with others, reach out to me and I’m happy to help you find a way.
God wants us all, introverts, extroverts, and even those somewhere in the middle to love, support and care for each other in real ways. I am praying that He helps you remember how important that is and you can begin to find full life in community with others.
Ross Campus Pastor
White Oak Christian Church