Apr

25

2013

Amie Patrick|12:01 AM CT

Four Lies About Introverts

I'm an introvert. Most people who don't know me well wouldn't guess this about me, but it's true. On a practical level, being an introvert means I'm generally more energized by time alone than by time with people, and I have a preference for a less externally stimulating environment. I feel very alive in a quiet, empty room. On the introversion/extroversion spectrum I fall closer to the middle, but still lean decidedly toward the introverted side.

The process of understanding introversion and the way it's expressed in my life has been both a tremendous relief and also an ongoing source of doubt and concern. My daily reality is people-intensive and externally stimulating. I'm married to an extrovert, we have four children, and we live in an urban setting. Our home and surroundings are fun and energetic—not exactly low-stimulus. My husband pastors a large church, and we're involved with many congregations and ministries throughout the world; consequently, our social circles are large and complex. To complicate things even further, my spiritual gifts are often expressed publicly as are the (non-innate!) social skills I've managed to learn and practice over time. These realities, combined with my definite need for quiet and solitude, have often left me and others confused about who I really am.

The lie I'm most tempted to believe is that the way God has wired me is incompatible with the life he's called me to live. The logical conclusion of this lie is that joy and contentment aren't possible—and that constant frustration is inevitable.

It took a while for me to unearth and articulate that lie under the layers of fear, doubt, and insecurity it was producing. I knew these beliefs didn't line up with God's character or promises, but it's taken extended immersion in the truth of God's Word to renew my mind and dismantle that deception. Along the way, I've discovered some subtle and not-so-subtle assumptions I'd unwittingly latched onto over time.

1. Extroversion is the biblical ideal.

There's little question our culture leans toward idealizing extroverts. Those with intrinsically good social skills, who appear to thrive in party-type atmospheres and exude confidence when meeting new people, are often considered worthy of emulation. I spent many years wondering why small talk felt so awkward for me when it seemed so effortless for my friends. In some churches, an appropriate focus on community life can inadvertently favor those who are most comfortable socially, quickest to share their thoughts and feelings, and most likely to throw a party. But there's no biblical precedent for idealizing extroversion, just as there's none for idealizing introversion either. I know extroverts who feel condemned because a quiet environment and time alone are somewhat distracting. They find it difficult to avoid comparing themselves to more introverted, contemplative types and avoid attributing their struggle to a lack of self-discipline when, in fact, a preferred environment has little to do with self-discipline at all.

The comparisons aren't helpful and neither is holding up an ideal the Bible does not. The body of Christ includes persons at all points on the introversion/extroversion continuum, and no one's contribution is more important than another's. We're all responsible to spend time both privately and corporately with God and others in worship, study, prayer, and service. Caving to a cultural standard that doesn't line up with scriptural truth is destructive to individuals and to the body of Christ.

2. Introverts don't like people.

This has perhaps been the lie that's stung most for me. I care deeply about people, but I need time alone to recharge in order to be able to give them my best. It's taken me years to view this as good stewardship rather than some sort of flaw I need to overcome. Actually, and perhaps ironically, the chief thing that's kept me from loving people well has been my attempt to be someone I'm not. The more I've tried to be that "life of the party" girl, endlessly accommodating others without considering what I need to recover, the less capacity I've had to actually love people well.

We're all responsible to obey biblical commands related to loving people sacrificially and living hospitably and generously. And it's a cop-out to use introversion as an excuse for self-protective isolation. But there's not just one or even ten "right" ways to love people well. I've learned to get better at small talk and interacting with strangers, because it's important and necessary, but it's never going to be my greatest strength. I've become much more comfortable in opening our home to small and large groups of people, both in planned and spontaneous ways, but going deep with one or two people over coffee is always going to be a place where I thrive. Accepting my God-given introversion, I still allow myself to be stretched or uncomfortable. But I passionately pursue opportunities where I can love people deeply with my gifts and life, and then humbly take responsibility for what it looks like for me to be refreshed.

3. Solitude is selfish and indulgent.

Now there's a reality here that can be true. If my choice to be alone is primarily to serve myself and intensify a me-oriented focus, it is a problem. But for a long time I believed solitude for the purpose of prayer, Bible study, or worship is necessary, but anything beyond that is probably frivolous. However, I've come to experience great benefits from a variety of solitary activities. Solitude in itself isn't inherently helpful or harmful, but the underlying purpose is pivotal. I can go for a run by myself to clear my head and enjoy God's gift of nature—or to sinfully distract myself from something I need to confront. I can sit alone in a coffee shop in order to think deeply and process life events—or to worry about things beyond my control. When I cooperate with the way God has designed me, and surrender my solitude to him, he uses it to refresh my soul in often unexpected and powerful ways.

4. Introversion is incompatible with teaching and leadership gifts.

Last year, after an acquaintance watched my husband and me team-teach in front of a few thousand people, he remarked in a good-natured way that I couldn't possibly be an introvert. I knew he meant this as a compliment, and I also understood his confusion. People who are confident and capable in front of large audiences don't exactly fit the introverted stereotype. And while it's true many introverts aren't comfortable in front of people, I am. How much of that is due to my natural personality, gifting, or years of training in music, theater, and teaching, I don't know, and it probably doesn't matter. What I do know is that once the adrenaline wears off after such an event, I need some silence and solitude in order to be replenished. I'm passionate about teaching God's Word, and I love to get to use my gifts in this area, but it's equally important for me to take necessary steps to make room for quiet rest. By God's grace I'm learning to see my more public and more private sides not as incompatible or inauthentic, but as balances to each other. 

Additionally, my leadership gifts aren't expressed in the same way as my extroverted husband. I tend to lead best from a more contemplative place. My creativity flourishes, and my best ideas rise to the surface when I have time to be alone more so than when I'm brainstorming with others in a highly dynamic environment. Since there is no one-size-fits-all model for leadership, our churches will be best served when there's room at the table for extroverted and introverted leaders alike.

Accepting the realities of my God-given personality has been a process of sanctification. I've had to repent of people-pleasing and trying to be someone I'm not. I've had to humbly acknowledge my limits and weaknesses and to live in God's strength rather than my own. Ultimately, this process has been about God and his kingdom, not me. The more I rest in his gracious acceptance of me in Jesus, the more free I become to be myself for his glory. And that's a place where joy and contentment abound.

Amie Patrick is wife to Darrin, lead pastor of The Journey in St. Louis. Married for 20 years, Darrin and Amie have 4 children, ages 3 to 12, and have served in a variety of ministry roles together. Amie holds a degree in music education and is passionate about leadership, teaching women to practically apply the gospel to all areas of their lives, and helping pastors' and church planters’ wives thrive in their calling.

  • Buks

    Thanks for this! I have been struggling with the same problem for many years. I am an intorvert, but I love teaching and being involved in mentoring and helping people. Making small talk though, to me, seems to be about the greatest challenge in ministry :-)

    Is it possible for an introvert to be a pastor? Possibly not a valid question, but still one I struggle with.

    Thanks, for the encouraging article - it blessed me today.

    • Don

      Thanks for the thoughtful article - I resonate with a lot of it. When I learnt in my first year at theological college that to be an introvert is not a weakness but a different kind of strength, it really liberated me from my struggles of whether or not I was "fit" to enter the ministry. I always joke with my wife that I'm the outgoing introvert and she's the shy extrovert, so we make a good pair in ministry!

    • Ruth Li

      Of course,introvert people can be a pastor,only if you have the passion and love for God and for the purpose of his kingdom,cause that is the most important thing.God mustn't need lively people to do the fun-atmosphere stimulation in church just as the seculer people do in the party,that is to simulate people's emotion maybe unreasonalbly. But God want good and loyal workers to teach the truth,to comfort the weak people and lead them to the face of the father in heaven.That is the point. Of course,though introvert might benefit a lot in plenty of thinking and contemplation and easy to seek the intangible God,but when God ask you to make a favor to other people with your innate passion, he also required you to get changed,or get improved in external behavior and way of connecting with this world. So,when you feel the passion and motivation of helping people need to be given out,you need to force yourself to go out, to speak out,and start making a difference with what God has given you(the love,truth,passion,sympathy). In fact,I don't agree a totally extrovert people,because such people might be most of the time extremelly indulged in external fun and happiness,unwilling to go through some deep and profound analysis and reflection. Anyway, God need us to be in the middle,that is to have these two qualities at the same time and right time for good use.To be alone,that is to let God teach you and improve you; to be with people,that is to make your gift more benefiting to bigger range of people.
      So,only if you have passion for God's words,don't be afrid to make change and don't be struggling in making such character-transfer preparation.Just ask God for his great work on you, and believe that one day and one moment,you would be a very confident speaker in the public,cause that will be God's spirit is speaking with you.

  • http://www.gordonconwel.edu/online Doug

    Yes it's possible for a pastor to be an introvert! Actually, if I remember the Alban Institute study correct from the 90s, only 57% of pastors were extroverted compared with 75% of the general public.

  • http://www.januaryrainstorm.blogspot.com Mark Z

    I am an introvert, and I approve of this message. Thanks! These are some great points, and I agree especially on the first and second points.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    I think my pastor is an introvert.

    But he can preach and teach like nobody's business.

  • Brent

    Thank you so much for this post.I am a hospital chaplain and also very decidedly an introvert. I also recently discovered (in my 40's) that I have A.D.D. which I think makes me a daydreamer who has difficulty focusing. Personally, I struggle to balance my introversion with the need to be outgoing and constantly engaging new people as part of my ministry. I constantly ask God to lead me to a ministry that better suits my introversion but so far no answers. Your post helped to re-frame my thoughts and encourage me to keep at it.
    Regarding introversion and the pastorate: most experts including the authors of "Do What You Are" list clergy/pastor as a recommended career for introverts.

  • Asher

    Point two is most helpful - I've heard from other people what makes someone an introvert is that they don't like people as much as extroverts; this has been a huge personal struggle because I am in full-time ministry and deeply love people, but felt because I didn't enjoy surface conversations, large parties, and being the center of attention that somehow I didn't fit 'the ministry mold'. This is liberating and I want to dig deeper into making my alone-time more Christ-centered to fuel me for those 'stretching times' of parties, etc. Learning more statistics of our world, 25% introverts versus 75% extroverts, has really exposed that this is a subject of great importance if we are going to really be used at our highest capacity, we need to be careful being in an extroverted world!
    I am on the midline of the scale too and have been thankful to use those gifts within ministry, but am realizing burn-out is a close possibility if I don't carefully protect that time to refuel away from people.

  • Ben

    Thank you for writing this.

  • Steve
  • SM

    A very commendable TED talk on the power of introverts. Might be encouraging to those who were encouraged by this article: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

  • Caleb

    I love this article. So insightful. As an extrovert, I have a hard time understanding introverted tendencies. I definitely appreciate the perspective.

  • Rosanne

    Wow! you hit the proverbial nail on the head with this article! I can SO relate to every word of it, and I thank you for writing it, because it helped me to begin sorting out some of my own struggles with the conflict between my introversion and the expectations that are placed on me by both myself and others. I have for so long thought that something was wrong with me for needing to have alone time, especially after time spent with a group of people, such as a party, or even community group at church, or the Bible studies I've lead, and the classes I've taught. Even though I enjoy those times with people and see them as necessary for a number of reasons, I am always glad when I can get back to my quiet home. Thanks again for helping me to understand a little better the way God made me and my place in His Kingdom.

  • http://www.jonstallings.com Jon Stallings

    Over the years I have actually noticed a large # of Pastors who are Introverts. I actually feel more comfortable speaking / preaching in front of a crowd vs. 1 on 1 with strangers.

  • John S

    I agree with most of your points, we are all different and that's a good thing. The Gospel brings people who differ together!

    However I have a concern about terminology. Introvert and extrovert are not Biblical categories, to my knowledge. There is nothing wrong with using them but it can lead away from God's Word as authority and toward a secular and psychologized view of reality. "I am an introvert therefore..." is not a Biblcal perspective out of which to view life, imo.

    I appreciate the reference to loving people, because that is a Biblical framework around which we all should live. If you can tell me how you are loving people and living the one-anothers and being part of the family of God in your 'introvertedness', or 'extrovertedness' or 'fill-in-the-blankness' well done good and faithful servant!

    Solitude surely has it's place, but there is no need for, or growth in, patience and kindness, or fighting against arrogance and resentment and irritability etc.(love) unless we are around those other annoying people :>)

    • Melody

      The same can be said about the people that need to be surrounded by a crowd all the time. Filling their lives with activities, people and commotion doesn't leave much time for being quiet and listening to God.

      Then again God made us all different for a reason. I don't know why we are constantly questioning that.

      • JohnM

        And filling our lives with activities, people, and commotion in a church context may just be practicing churchianity and convincing ourselves it is discipleship.

  • aleksa

    i think that's bubkis...the whole introvert/extrovert is a false distinction. people are very complex and different, and can not be reduced to these two fluid categories. instead of pinning yourselve an 'introvert', but be honest and simply say sometimes you like to be alone! simple!

    • cb

      Yes, people are complex and aren't limited only to these two distinctions, but the introversion/extroversion spectrum is not 'bubkis.' There has actually been research done that shows physiological differences in the brains of introverts and extroverts-- how they process information and interaction is different, which is why they feel differently after such interactions. Introverts are not dishonest in claiming introversion as the reason they need alone time. They truly do need it in order NOT to feel exhausted.

      • james

        Are you implying God can't change introverts because there is a physiological difference in the two?

        • http://www.everybodyelse.etsy.com Melody

          I don't know where you're getting such an idea from in CB's comment. CB is saying that there's a physiological difference in our brains. I believe the implication is that God put it there. Just like he made men and women different, just as he gave humans a variety of appearances, he also gave us different sorts of brains. That hardly disputes his sovereignty.

    • J

      I disagree with this. People are complex creations and I don't think it is that simple. I believe we all have a mix of both introvert/extrovert tendencies but stronger in one area than the other.

  • andrew price

    Great article, us introverts need to stick together! But can we do it separately or for a short period of time.

  • http://eagleheights.com Ryan Smith

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. As an introvert in ministry, I have struggled with the same questions. Hopefully this will help many.

  • Cynthia

    I have never read anything that summed up my needs, my life, and my gifts quite this well (and quite this succinctly) - and all from a Christian perspective. Thanks so much for lifting us fellow introverts up in Christ!

  • http://www.susannasapron.com Columba Lisa Smith

    I can relate. My three children and I are all introverts, and at times we've been penalized and/or overlooked at church for not being social, outgoing, etc. I'm thankful that this doesn't limit God, however, and I encourage my children to be who they are, no excuses. Also, I'm very grateful I've been able to homeschool them. I think that really made the difference in their self-acceptance.
    I too am comfortable in front of people. I call myself an "outgoing introvert."

    • Glen

      An "outgoing introvert"! It fits me perfect. Thanks for helping to discover such a cool phrase that easily and simply defines me.

  • http://crossway.org Dane Ortlund

    Really nice, thanks.

    --an introvert

  • Hunkin

    "On the introversion/extroversion spectrum I fall closer to the middle, but still lean decidedly toward the introverted side."

    And then there are those who don't fall anywhere near the middle.

  • http://www.createdforhome.net Crissyanna

    Thank you. My husband used to be an associate pastor at a church and I got called out for not being outgoing enough, giving people enough compliments etc during that time. It was a miserable place to be for me and I felt like a failure constantly for not living up to others' expectations.

    If I've learned anything through my life is that God does equip the called and will use you inspite of yourself for His glory, no matter your temperament and personality. Thank you for writing this much need article. I pray it touches many, not just us introverts, but also the extroverts who don't quite understand us.

  • http://www.timandolive.com Tim Chan

    Great insights. My wife is an introvert, and we've both had to learn how to live and support and celebrate her introvertedness.

    She writes this letter that some may find helpful reading:
    Dear Extroverts, (An Honest Letter from an Introvert)
    http://timandolive.com/dear-extroverts/

  • http://www.rsquaredcomicz.com Justin

    Very good read, and thanks for sharing! This speaks to tons of us, myself included.

  • Raquel Robaert

    Thanks for sharing your life experience in this article. I'm reading David Brainerd, life and diary and he seems just like the introvert that you discribed and he was incredibly used by God.

  • Liz

    If I did't know better, I would say you were reading my mind and life. Thanks so much for writing this. It feels good to know you are not alone in the introvert world. God Bless you

  • http://www.renee-lifeisatapestry@blogspot.com Renee Peebles

    This was so well written. I too have struggled with being introverted. Have been labeled many times as shy or "she is quiet". But over the past several years working in "platform" ministry and then being home in a more one to one ministry I have come to realize it all works the way God intended it to work.

  • Megan

    I wasn't raised in the church, and thus was never led to believe time alone was inappropriate. I also grew up in a heavily Buddhist city in which meditation and contemplation were regarded as positive traits, and was even taught to use Zen meditation techniques to study the Bible.

    So, I guess I'd never realized being an introvert was a problem.

    A few years ago I wrote a paper for a history class on John Wycliffe and his apparent friendship with Thomas of Gaunt, the bastard son of the king. In medieval England, bastard sons enjoyed a fair amount of political power, a holdover from England's pre-Christian past when bastards could take the throne. This politically influential relationship was crucial in protecting Wycliffe from being punished as a heretic, in much the same way as the German prince protected Martin Luther from the Inquisition. But what interested me was that one scholar questioned that someone who was as socially inept as Wycliffe could have even had a friend.

    Wycliffe is considered to be the Morning Star of the Protestant Reformation. So it's interesting to consider that without this man who historians believe to have been a super introvert, there would possibly not be a Protestant Church today.

    If you read your Bible, there's evidence Moses, most of the prophets and quite possibly Jesus were introverts, as they appeared to need significant amounts of time by themselves.

  • http://everywordthatproceeds.blogspot.com Emily

    Thanks so much for this article! This is so me. I am also a minister's wife and I love speaking and teaching, but small talk and the constant pull from people can be suffocating at times. One of my favorite things to do is to take a weekend once or twice a year and go to a cabin by myself - the solitude is great and so very refreshing to my soul. I especially try to do this right before I am speaking at an event so that I can be focused. I love being around people but I also need and crave that time alone with God. I am expecting my first child in just a few weeks and I wonder how I am going to my manage my "introvertedness" with being a mom. It will be an interesting journey figuring it all out! :)

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  • Crystal Hill

    This is a great article! As an introverted college student, number two resonated the most with me and your article helped me to not feel self-conscious about how I interact with people. Even though a lot of people are introverted it often feels like I am the only one! Now I see that I am in good company. Thanks for putting some perspective on this, especially as someone who is in leadership. (:

  • http://HSPandMe.com Sean Nemecek

    I too am an introvert and a pastor. When I am allowed to minister according to my temperment, I see much fruit. When I try to please those who expect me to be an extrovert, I become burned out and much less fruitful.

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  • Toni Sprandel

    Thank you for this post. It really sounds like me! I love ministering to people, but I NEED my quiet time with the LORD. When I don't get it, I am unable to function well. I really relate to you, especially when you said you like to find 1 or 2 people off to the side and "go deep"! That is me. I am soooo uncomfortable doing small talk! Give me a room full of guys and I can talk sports all day! Again, thank you!

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  • Donnajean

    Very refreshing read! From someone who's Boyfriend is an introvert, this article helped to give me a better understanding into his world. Parts of this fit him very well :) Thank You for Sharing this and giving such wonderful insight!

  • Clarice

    Excellent article I resonated with on nearly all points. Thank you!

    I'd like to read more articles from Christians on the Myers Briggs Personality Types. I'm sure more can be said from a Christian perspective about the differences between the Thinker and the Feeler, the Intuitive and the Perceptive, and how one is not "more holy" than the other, etc.

    Thanks again!

  • http://www.missionindia.org David Stravers

    Amie, from one introvert to another, you will find a lot of support for your comments in the book -- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Thanks for your biblical treatment of this topic.

  • Chris Hengge

    I echo many of the grateful comments from introverts on here. It's only been recently that I've been able to put words on why particular areas and responsibilities in ministry have been seemingly more difficult for me than for many of my friends who are also in ministry. And it's because I'm an introvert.

    Many of the comments have listed other resources they've found helpful, but one I hadn't seen yet that I'll throw in the mix is a book by Adam McHugh called "Introverts in the Church." I found it incredibly helpful and encouraging and I would recommend to introverts and extroverts, church staff and lay members. While introverts do need to be around people to love them even though it may be more difficult, McHugh reminds us that Jonathan Edwards spent 13 hours a day studying during his 20 year tenure pastoring his church in Massachusetts. It goes without saying many of us today are thankful for his time alone studying and writing.

    Here's a link for McHugh's book if anyone is interested: http://www.amazon.com/Introverts-Church-Finding-Extroverted-Culture/dp/0830837027/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366983520&sr=8-1&keywords=introverts+in+the+church

    • Josh Anderson

      I haven't read McHugh's book. I'll look into it. Did he say anything about the danger of all that solitude? Edwards spending 13 hours a day studying (though used by God)also led to neglect for family relationships and relationships in his church

      • K Cogan

        In George Marsden's book "Jonathan Edwards: A Life" (a reliable, widely recognized, and well acclaimed book) he wrote how Edwards would intentionally spend time one on one with his wife, Sarah, in his study talking every day. They had a very close and loving relationship. In fact, Marsden wrote how their marriage was what inspired George Whitefield to get married. Edwards would also spend time daily talking with his children in his study one on one. His relationships with his congregation also did not seem to suffer from his study (except for when they disagreed with him on his use of hymns instead of just psalms with the youth--gasp!--and for his views of communion, which was what ultimately got him kicked out of his job). Out of curiosity, where did you get your info re: "Edwards spending 13 hours a day studying (though used by God)also led to neglect for family relationships and relationships in his church"?

    • Chris Hengge

      McHugh doesn't mention anything in his section on Edwards about the consequences studying 13 hours a day would have on his personal and ministerial relationships. Though I would presume you're right about that.

      But McHugh does spend considerable time in other parts of the book making the point that the introvert's goal should not be to live all of life in solitude. I think he does a good job encouraging introverts to be in solitude for the dual purpose of doing what we're good at and enjoy as well as refueling to be with and minister to people.

      I would add further encouragement to check out the book!

  • http://www.christianmarieherron.com Christian Marie Herron

    Very well written and as many have already commented, much of what you expressed really resonated with me. I believe that your passion for God creates a comfortable space for you to articulate who you really are and the gifts that you were given. As an introvert myself, I so love and appreciate my contemplative nature. Like you, I am also married to an extrovert, have children and a busy life. I value my solitude.

    I think there are many who are part of ministry who are seeking to express their introverted voices. Thank you so much for posting this.

  • http://www.everybodyelse.etsy.com Melody

    Good article :) I help out with youth group at church. I know sometimes the boisterous college students who shuffle through as leaders wonder what quiet, unenthusiastic Melody is doing there. Sometimes I wonder. But I also see how sometimes I'm quietly contributing in ways that an extrovert can't/won't. So I keep doing it.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for this thoughtful, helpful post. A timely reminder that God has made me the way I am for His glory, and the best way to serve Him is from within that!

  • Sandra Garman

    Thank you for this post. As an introverted pastor's wife married to an extrovert, I have struggled with the "church's" perception of me for years. I am just now learning to rest in who I am and being confident in my gifts and leadership skills. I found a great book called "Introverts in the Church" by Adam McHugh that was very helpful.

    http://www.amazon.com/Introverts-Church-Finding-Extroverted-Culture/dp/0830837027

  • Chris Woznicki

    Thanks for this! I really appreciated reading it and I was able to resonate so much with it. One interesting thing regarding your last point "Introversion is incompatible with teaching." I have actually found that a lot of introverts actually have a very good stage presence and that they really enjoy teaching (I'm one of those cases). Its my theory (and I might be wrong) that introverts are just as comfortable on stage as extroverts because they aren't using their "relational energy" to interact with a bunch of people. They are essentially giving a monologue, interacting with one person i.e. the audience, not a bunch of people.

  • Sharon Sparks

    This is so me! I have also learned to be outgoing, but I crash and burn if I don't take the time to be alone and quiet. Thank you for sharing!

  • Josh Anderson

    Amie, thanks for this article. I'm glad to hear someone's thoughts who has experienced this.
    Question(s): What some things you as an introvert (or Darrin as an extrovert), have done to grow in this? How have you gone about deciding to be with people or not? Or how/when do you say yes or no to people or events?

    Thanks, josh

  • April Erxleben

    I really enjoyed reading this article. You have demonstrated the differences in introverts and extroverts very well. I am in this dilemma myself; however, I am an extrovert. I find that I tend to dismiss those that aren't as social so to speak. It's not done deliberately. I think what arises is personality conflicts with those introverts I've run across. Open communication is key, even if for a minute or two. We misunderstand body language and intentions. And, assume the wrong thing. As long as it is communicated to me the space a fellow introvert may need and why I am more accepting and understanding and realize that it's not about me. It is simply a person's personality trait and/or disposition. Either way, God uses us uniquely. Great article.

  • Carol Lutjens

    Thank you--I really needed to read this today!

  • Mark McCree

    Brilliant article well written I never have placed much weight on personality type profiling because i believe it too often becomes a limiting factor to us my personality type is this so i must do this or this I believe it does tell the lies you so well highlight in your article and often makes us less likely to try new things or open to God calling us to do something which seems to go against our personality type God uses our weaknesses and he equips us to do the task so sometime he uses us in ways that we are comfortable with and sometime for our own spiritual development he takes us out of our comfort zone too often businesses use personality typing to be lazy and save time in interviewing more people to get the right person I to am introverted but God has called me to preaching when the anointed time comes and I enter full time christian ministry I believe that God will equip me to cope and yeah when it come down to it i too will seek the quiet place to replenish my energies God has clearly blessed your journey and given you peace that you are wired just the way he want you to be

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  • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II

    Thanks for this. As an extreme introvert, I struggle constantly with the extroverts in the Church who have set themselves up as the standard against which everyone else is to be compared. Christianity is a communal faith, a community of faith, the one people that God is gathering unto Himself for His glory. Yet, there is still as much a place in the Church for introverts as there is for extroverts.

    Adam McHugh wrote an excellent book on introverts in the Church: http://www.amazon.com/Introverts-Church-Finding-Extroverted-Culture/dp/0830837027

  • Chriselda Dirrim

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart Amie. I'm an introverted minister's wife and all of this really resonated with me and ministered to me. Thank you.

  • Susan Nye Ferrell

    Thanks for the article. I am an introvert who is good at being the "life of the party" because I am funny and not afraid of speaking. As such people don't think of me as an introvert at all. The fact that I am so able, leaves me VERY drained by social interaction. I have always appreciated the definition as to what energizes one, for me that is being alone.

    This notion that extroversion is somehow holier than introversion, or something God needs to change is nonsense. Sinful behavior in intro's or extro's is something God needs to change, not one's temperament, or personality, those are gifts from God. Both have their own temptations toward sin and their own gifts. Many activities are not even possible around others, reading, thinking, private prayer, and many skills require intense concentration such as knitting, sewing, the arts, lab work, writing etc, where would we be without these.

    I like to think of it like this...as David said he would not give to God something that cost him nothing...those of us who are introverts, when we stretch, and give our energies to that which is draining (though not necessarily unpleasant) we are giving something that costs us, for the cause of Christ. If we were happy extroverts, then we'd really not have paid much for the social/hospitality/fellowship work that we do.

    I really appreciate your saying it doesn't mean you don't like people. I've given up telling folk I'm an introvert because they naturally take hurt over it. If I must, I prefer to emphasise that I need a lot of "down time" to rejuvinate, making it the time alone that is needful not "avoiding them" (-: that is so. I think I actually love people as passionately and deeply as my extroverted husband/friends, I just don't wear it the same.

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  • http://www.quadrosneil.wordpress.com Neil

    Recently at one of our Bible Leadership Training seminars we were asked to carry on with individual research on a particular topic. The requirement was also to have a colleague work with you to help you move ahead give you ideas etc.

    Now I prefer working alone on my projects - something i've been doing since college.

    I requested the facilitator to leave me out of it. He insisted I buddy up with someone. Although I eventually relented, at the end of the service, in the closing prayer in front of everyone, he 'prayed' that I would find comfort in the company of friends and would learn be more of an extrovert!

    That was mean.

    This article soothes my wounds a lot especially when you say that you're comfortable and creative when your in solitude than with a dynamic brainstorming session with others.

    Thank you for the article. If I would suggest, could you .. if ever you repost this, add in a few scriptural references to your thoughts? It would really add a lot of weight to your article. Thanks again Amie!

  • JLim

    Thank you for the article. I was an introvert before I was saved, but once I became a believer, my desire to share the gospel has changed my view on how much down-time and alone time I need. I still much prefer smaller groups than larger ones and I prefer supporting roles rather than leading. Moreover, I still don't enjoy fluffy surface level conversations, but maybe that's a good thing. In the end, my hope is to find rest for my soul in Him rather than time alone in solitude.

  • Caleb W

    I've been seeing a lot of articles about so-called "introverts" and "extroverts" on evangelical blogs lately. Why is this? Is this all a response to Cain's book? I find it interesting that we all use these terms as identity categories now...that seems kind of reductive.

  • Jo Anne

    Your post is emotionally generous. Thank you! Well felt and spoken.
    Always remember the less preferred traits are relevant...
    INTP has huge Feeling Judgement. It is the less preferred as Introverted Thinking Judgment is the dominant in the dichotomy, highly influential and desperately needed to promote wholeness.
    Your Extroverted Feeling Judgment connects people. It is extremely attractive ...
    Seinfeld is INTP and it is his F/J we are entertained by.
    I am ESFP,
    MBTI Certified Profiler,
    female, age 54,
    married 35 yrs, 2 daughters 33, 34, 4 grandchildren.
    My family and I have been at the same AG church for 25 years.
    My husband Ken and I are in Bible College.
    The MBTI Theory spouts a balancing act within each dichotomy as we age.
    The intelligence of MBTI is understanding each trait and applying it appropriately.
    I experience great difficulty balancing my E/I. at this time in my life. I have less energy
    for many people.
    Small talk leaves me feeling awkward and wondering whats wrong with me...
    On the right stage, I understand the appropriate interaction, it is at church where I long
    for deep connection that I struggle ,
    As much as I Know MBTI my feelings are still my feelings and choosing my thoughts is what
    Gods word teaches and there in lies direction ESFP seeks!
    INTJ is balancing ESFP and sometimes I feel the tight rope beneath my feet and thats ok ...
    I just continue to put one foot in front of the other... Soon, you'll be walk in out the door:) lol
    Remember, Always I am still ESFP:)
    We balance we don't change position.

    • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II

      I'm familiar with Meyers-Briggs (we had to all take the test when I was with my last employer and talk about the results). I'm very happy with being an INTJ.

      I very much dislike small talk.

  • Jess

    Thanks for sharing. Sometimes, I feel frustrated between the balance of loving others and getting "rest" (time alone, uninterrupted). When I love someone so deeply and want to spend time with them, yet know that is beyond my physical limitations, it hurts my heart as well. Some weeks it's a constant struggle; other weeks time and people come naturally, and it's not as hard to manage.

    So, all of that to say that this article was very encouraging and helped me to see that my frustrations are not alone. One of may favorite ways to see Christ work is through His body- lifting each other up in various ways- an encouraging conversation, a kind action, a worship service, or even a blog.

    Thank you for sharing, friend.

  • http://rebeccabarlowjordan.com Rebecca Barlow Jordan

    Amie, I really enjoyed your post. It was very well done. As a young minister's wife, I used to struggle with the same issues--trying to figure out who I was supposed to be. At times when speaking or teaching, extrovert would fit. As a writer, the primary introvert took over. It took many years before I was comfortable just being the woman God created me to be. I have always called myself a Melancholy/Sanguine. But I can identify with you in so many ways. Now when I give advice to young pastor's wives, I enjoy telling them, one of the best things you can do is just be yourself--the woman God created you to be. He gave us unique gifts and personalities for a reason--and we can all use them to honor Him!

  • Will

    Thank you for taking the time to write this thoughtful article Amie.
    It was a pleasure to read and extremely helpful.

  • C. GRESHAM

    I got this article from my daughter and loved it. #3--One of my places of solitude is the ironing board. I have never minded ironing because I talk to the Lord and we discuss Life, many times I've had an attitude adjustment while getting the clothes ironed. The other place is working in my yard, I am so at peace that God uses this time to bring to mind people and events that need to be covered in prayer. I'm sure my neighbors think I am crazy talking to myself, even crying. You are so right that alone time is more than necessary to those of us whose personality is an introvert.

  • http://www.jsparkblog.com JS Park

    Great post. Just thought I'd share this one, which went sort of viral on Tumblr.
    http://jspark3000.tumblr.com/post/37804515166/14-ways-to-handle-a-christian-introvert

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  • Rhonda Stecker

    Wow! This hit so close to home. My husband is a minister and an extrovert, who loved to invited people over. In our early marriage with young kids, I was angry and frustrated and couldn't figure out why. At one point, we had to do a personality test and meet with a marriage counselor (funny story with that, no marriage trouble)...best thing that happened is we both saw on a graph how different we were. Now we both understand my need to quiet and away from people, life if a lot less frustrating and sometimes it is easier to minister and be with people because I know at home he will respect my need to be quiet and alone. I started distance running and realized I love the solitude of being by myself and not talking to anyone.

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  • http://www.woodenspoonbaking.blogspot.com amy

    Thank you, I needed to hear this!

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  • Celeste

    Thank you, Amie. For sharing this. I have always felt so guilty and bad for preferring quiet and solitude than large gatherings and parties. What you said about loving people... that is true for me too. I love them, but I'm not very good at showing it. What you've written here has helped me and encouraged me. Thank you! :)

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  • Jeff Miller

    Thanks for this! See if you can get your husband to write a companion piece- 4 lies about extroverts! That would be great.

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  • K.J.

    Thank you for sharing this. this It was very important for me to read and validated my confusion over my personality not supporting my Christianity.

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  • Jeremy

    From a self-identified introvert, thank you for the encouragement. :)

  • Christopher Wells

    Thank you so much, Amie, for sharing your realization of these realities. I sense the Gospel in your words as they bear joint comfort and responsibility. The Spirit has been healing me and empowering me through these truths, and this introverted soul benefits much from hearing yours. Christ our God be with you!

    Christopher Wells,
    Wichita, Ks

  • http://kingintraining.wordpress.com Caddie

    SUCH a brilliant post! I'm exactly the same and there is truth in what you have written!

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  • http://www.makheni.com makheni zonneveld

    At last some sanity! - a week ago I became aware of the introversion debate through Susan Caine's TED talk - since then I have seen such awful anger and mudslinging toward extroverts that I have decided to start a blog that says stop the madness!!! I will follow your blog because you are the only voice of sanity I have encountered in the past week - I hope there are others like you - our society does not need another us vs them issue - when I saw 'Gospel coalition' I thought oh no now this madness is mixed with the gospel - fortunately that is not the case - thank you for taking the constructive approach - I am an extrovert and I am saying let sanity prevail - it is true that there is social bias against introverts but the approach that I saw in the past week is not constructive engagement - thank you for being a shining example

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  • Kristen

    Amen Amie!!!
    As the wife of a pastor, God has shown me why He made me this way. It has taken me years to accept the fact I am this way, and understand why my not being as comfortable and outgoing with people as others like my husband. But it's women like you who continue to confirm that we have a special place in the Kingdom of God and ministry as well! I pray God's continued blessings on you that you are able to continue to share His revelation with women like myself out of an even deeper relationship with Him!