Do You Honor Those Different?
Being an introverted person myself, I watched a video on the TED website from Susan Cain called “the power of introverts” (very interesting talk if you have the time to watch).
She talks about the shift in our society where group work is the ultimate whether in school or work or anywhere else. In this scenario, the most dominant (i.e., extroverted) person’s ideas will rise to the top whether it’s the best idea or not. All the while, the introvert who works better in quietness and/or solitude doesn’t get the opportunity to do their best work.
This same mindset has infiltrated the Church as well. We tend to praise the outgoing and out-front personality while discouraging everyone else. The visible things are seen as more important while the seemingly invisible things go unappreciated.
I would like to propose that what we don’t see is equally important and worthy of honor.
We know it in the negative. If the foundation of your house, which you never or rarely see, is flawed or corrupted you are in trouble. If disease is ignored and allowed to run its course, even though it may not be outwardly obvious, then we are eventually incapacitated.
It’s true in the positive as well. Those who build the largest congregations and oversee huge missions are worthy of honor certainly. They are doing what God gifted them to do (presumably). Those who care for runaways or battered moms or even those who keep things clean and put together–they don’t get the spotlight but they deserve honor for their willingness to love and serve.
Take a moment to let Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:21-26 sink in,
21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be nodivision in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Back to my point about introverts, I find social gatherings draining while others can’t get enough. I do my best thinking while reflecting, reading, or listening to sermons while exercising. In other words, in solitude. That doesn’t absolve me from living in community, being accountable, loving and trusting others, etc. I am also not advocating living in bondage to extreme shyness and intimidation (to which I was a captive). But to force me, and a great many others who are like me, to fit another mold is only going to stifle and burn us completely out.
It’s easy to praise or acknowledge a person who can preach a great sermon or sing a great song, but how often do we seek out those who are behind the scenes or work the “thankless” jobs and ministries to say “thank you” (and not only in the church setting)?
We need each other to be our best. We need to understand that we all fall on this spectrum of introvert or extrovert in different places and be able to respect and honor that.
Are your introverted or extroverted? How do you honor those who are different than you?