Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Introverts and the Church, Part 1

I’ve written a lot here about extroverts and introverts later, and a thoughtful reader has sent in some questions that I thought deserved some consideration as posts of their own.

Here’s the first two questions:


What's the introvert's real job in the church, if it's not to pretend to be an extrovert? And, I suppose putting the question a bit differently, does the patronage model shed any light on how an introvert is to serve God?
Good question.

First, in an agonistic society, people are used to “pretending” – putting on a public face. That included extroverts as well as introverts, so it would not be so much a problem outside our social paradigm; you would have been given a “how to” from birth. (Heck, even the INTJ personality – me – knows how to ham it up with a public persona. Just don’t try to hug me, please.)


So in a sense, not even the extroverts are being themselves in such situations. Everyone is using a polite persona so as to avoid offending others – at least in Bible times. Now? That’s another matter, but let’s give the initial answer to question 2 first.

Does the patronage model shed any light here? No, not in and of itself – though I expect a decent patron would assign you to work you do best. So for example, the introvert might get set out watching sheep, or toiling alone in the field, or on the positive side, might end up some sort of scholar. As members of the Body of Christ, we have God to assign us duties, and He surely would be seen as knowing best what we ought to do.


So for the introvert today, what is our job in the church? Well, there are plenty of talents and assignments that cohere with introversion – like being a scholar, or cooking food at a soup kitchen in the back room, or maintaining church grounds – or, just having a good job from which you can get a salary and contribute to other ministries. No one says your “ministry” has to be hands-on.


Again, good questions. We’ll have more again in this series.

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