Calling All Introverts -- And Extroverts -- And Everyone In Between...

"You sure are quiet today."

I hear this statement a lot, and it usually contains a twinge of concern. Even though my profession calls me to talk, interact, and converse on a regular basis, I like to be quiet. I prefer to listen. I cherish alone time.

My name is Darian, and I'm an introvert.

(Hi Darian!)

I do wonder if some of us introverts need recovery, especially after reading Susan Cain's fabulous book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Our personality types may range from introvert to extrovert to somewhere in between. All types are good, very good according to Genesis 1, but different. Like Cain's title says, sometimes introverts get lost in a sea of talking, and we may consider the quietness a weakness.

Years ago, a woman told me that I was a good pastor because I was an extrovert. Let's call her "Mabel." I shared with Mabel that every time I took a personality test, the test revealed that I was actually more introvert than extrovert. I hoped this would lead to a conversation about personalities, learning to work together, the power of quietness, etc. Instead, Mabel looked at me as if I had an extra head and said, "No, you're not! You're outgoing. You're easygoing. You love people. YOU. ARE. AN. EXTROVERT!" By this point, she was pointing her finger in my face.

If I had to guess, Mabel might be introvert in need of "recovery," too.

(Hi, Mabel!)

As Susan Cain writes eloquently, it's not "better" to be more introverted or extroverted. Every personality has its strengths and weaknesses. The problem we encounter is what Mabel conveyed in my conversation with her. From her perspective, to be quiet is to be weak, and that is not necessarily true. To be outgoing or to love people does not make one an extrovert, either. For more information on the personality characteristics and for more in-depth psychological study, I encourage you to read Cain's book. There is a link to the title of the book above.

Why do we so often talk ourselves out of being who we really are?

Why do we judge one person's personality as being "better" than another's?

A Scripture passage that always makes me chuckle is found in Matthew 20. James and his brother, John, have spent the past 15 chapters following Jesus. They were even in the top three who got to go on the mount of Transfiguration to hob nob with Elijah and Moses. They helped organize the 5000+ people who needed some food. They saw demons leap towards pigs, a dead girl breathe, and blind eyes blink. Now, in chapter 20, their mother appears to ask Jesus to take care of them in his kingdom, to place "one at his right hand and the other on his left" (Matthew 10:21). Can't you just see Jim & John rolling their eyes and saying, "Aw, come on, Mom" like so many of us have done to our well-meaing parents? The other disciples get mad at them, and that may have made them madder at their mom. I smile at the scenario because it's so real.

Then Jesus does what Jesus does so well. He doesn't laugh. He doesn't get angry. He turns the inquiry of a mother into an invitation for her sons: "Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" (Matthew 10:22)

The cup of salvation. The cup of sacrifice. The cup of servanthood.

In the kingdom of God, we do not strive to be "better" than one another, to sit at the right hand or the left. Jesus invites introverts and extroverts, the quiet and gregarious, the shy and overbearing, to be servants. In His kingdom, sitting at the right or left hand of God is not about one person having a "better" personality than another. There is no pre-requisite to servanthood, to drinking the cup, other than a willingness to do so for the sake of Jesus Christ. Serving begins with accepting that we all are recipients of grace from the same Cup.

There is power in speech. There is also power in quiet. May the power of both come from the Holy Spirit working in each of our lives, diverse yet united in our willingness to serve.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian