Community. Conversation. Connection.

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?

 

22 Comments

  1. I am an extreme extrovert. I do a lot of my work alone (by nature of my job) but I also have found a lot of freedom in working with a group. I have learned the good thing about delegation as a result. I try to allow people to function within their giftedness and their personality.
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..FalseWordsMy Profile

    • And that is the key, Bill! Allowing the freedom to be who God created us to be so that we can be at our best--it has to bring joy to His heart. Thanks so much.

  2. Depends on the situation. I am naturally an introvert, and need at least an hour or so a day where I’m alone, but in certain circumstances, like with friend or in my ministry or when preaching, I am an extrovert. I guess I just can’t make up my mind :D
    Jason Vana recently posted..Called to SomeoneMy Profile

    • I think the real question is what you’re bent to and how you recharge. Some people recharge or get amped up by having lots of people around. Me, I totally shut down (unless it’s a small group of like 3-4). I love preaching and singing and leading worship, but I don’t really consider them an extroverted activity (maybe that’s not accurate though). Interesting to think about! Thanks Jason.

  3. I think I’m a mixture of both. While the majority of my life is lived as an extrovert, I need time alone. I need solitude with God on a daily basis.

    Thanks for this post.
    TC Avey recently posted..The Smell of IndifferenceMy Profile

    • That’s an important thought I didn’t really explore, but the extrovert will benefit from the time alone even if “unnatural” at first and the introvert can benefit from learning how to relate more in a group, asserting himself, etc. And I am with you, I need that time with Him or I’m behind before I start! Thanks TC.

  4. As a classic Introvert, I find myself blessed by this post this morning.
    Glynn recently posted..A Kind of Madness: "The Heart Aroused," Part 1My Profile

    • Wonderful! I am glad you’re blessed, Glynn. :)

  5. I’m an extrovert, but the time I spend alone is more precious to me than otherwise. Even when I’m with others, I live my life inside my head… if that makes any sense…

    The value of those not seen is rarely brought to the light. I think the ones who don’t need the recognition are the truly secure and that is a gift from God all unto itself…

    • You do make sense. :)

      And very true--not needing the recognition is wonderful, but He still calls us to give honor where it is due. That blesses everyone in profound ways. Thanks so much, Floyd.

  6. Hi Jason,
    Thank you for this post! I am an introvert and seem to struggle with this because people just don’t understand or appreciate what I do, silently. I even had one lady tell me that my ‘shyness’ was because of deep pride in me. I really struggled over this one taking it to God and asking Him to revel this pride so I could be rid of it, He did show me some pride issues which I think all people deal with, but nothing major.

    I have so much to offer into God’s kingdom but it is always in the background where the only one who notices is God Himself. I am totally fine with this as what goes unnoticed by others will be rewarded by Him and I want my reward to come from Him because really He is all that really matters.

    I find it cool to know that you too are an introvert. :)

    I love your work here and always enjoy reading. Praying often for your family.

    Blessings,
    <
    Child of God recently posted..Thinking on FaithMy Profile

    • Yes, and being an introverted leader/pastor in today’s society makes me question often whether God made a mistake or not! Not really a mistake, but when you look at all those “successful” churches out there, it seems the personality and charisma of the people leading jumps out at you from across the room (and God bless them for that!).

      As for the shyness/pride correlation, some people may deal with that, but it’s unfair to make a blanket statement that all shy people are just too prideful. Before God did a work in my life, I desperately wanted to sing and lead worship (because He put the desire there), but even when I forced myself, the fear and intimidation was so overwhelming. It came out awful! Pride may have had a hand in it, but it wasn’t the major factor there. Anyway, I could go on and on!

      Blessings on all your contributions to the Kingdom, whether out front or completely hidden from view! Thanks for your thoughts!

  7. Hmm, I just realized I contradicted myself. ;P My struggle is not with being an introvert but getting my point across in a group of people. I stumble on my words and tend to shut down in a major way and people don’t understand this. It can be frustrating at times because I am sensitive and really would love to be understood. But I am learning that God knows and understands me and that is all that really matters.

    I hope that is a bit more clear. ;P
    Child of God recently posted..Thinking on FaithMy Profile

    • I think you made perfect sense in your comment. I struggle as well in a large group. I actually think very quickly so before I propose a question or offer a suggestion, I am thinking of 5-10 responses or scenarios that could come back. That causes me to stumble over words and fumble a conversation sometimes so I have to just quiet my thoughts and put things out there. You are so right--God does understand and that’s the most important, but don’t give up on learning how to express yourself more effectively. He’ll help you with that as well! Thanks again.

  8. I’m both ways when I’m out on the job with my clients I’m seem to be more out going,I’m a person that love’s having a good time. But when I’m home I tend to be more calmer and tend to be quieter then when I am with my friends and when together as a family we rock & roll as well. But when I’m around our church I tend be to on my best behavior and more quieter. Guess the reason why was most of our church body are from different denomination (nothing wrong with that btw) and guess aren’t used to Holy Ghost Children lol. But in all seriousness I tend to hear more from God when I’m out and about doing things. Many times He has spoken to me while I’m working out listening to a tape. Yes we serve a Serious God, But we also serve a God that is Fun and gives us things to enjoy.
    andrew singh recently posted..Christmas-Winterland Photo ExtravaganzaMy Profile

    • Totally with you--so glad He makes such wonderful things in this life for us to enjoy and we can discover Him in the midst of them. Thanks Andrew!

  9. Definitely an introvert, but God has definitely showed me ways that He can use that part of me even when He stretches me to step beyond it.

    • We all have to grow and stretch for sure! Glad though that we can appreciate each other for who we are as well. Thanks Philip--I definitely appreciate you. :)

  10. So true! We should all respect other people for them to respect us in return. Thanks for sharing this.. Good job!
    Wynona recently posted..Advantages of using a good quality software to unlock iPhone 3GMy Profile

    • Thanks Wynona.

  11. I believe that as Christians, we all fall somwhere in the middle. We have to in order to keep our sanity.

    Since I am a Graphic Artist, I tend to value my time away from people, that’s when I do my best airbrush work, my best creativity, etc.

    But being an introvert can be draining as well. You really can’t reach out to people being an introvert, and that’s part of our calling as Christians.

    So we have to be a little of both I suppose.

    Great video, by the way! :)
    Ed recently posted..The Student Who Scored 0% On His ExamMy Profile

    • You’re very right. We can’t use our personality or likes/dislikes as an excuse not to live the Christian life. At the same time, we can understand that some people will naturally (because of God’s gifting/abilities within them) lean a certain direction and it’s meant to be a blessing. Very interesting to think about! Thanks so much, Ed.