Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsSaturday 12 Mar 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
Are you an introvert or extrovert? Quite an interesting question. I am an introverted person—always have been and find it difficult to change my personality style.
There are times when I wish I was different. Maybe you’re the same—or you are an extreme extrovert. I think this is an interesting topic, especially if, like me, you are an introvert.
In our extroverted society, we seem to value aggressive, action-oriented, gregarious people. Have you noticed? We call them the ‘movers and shakers’ who get things done. They are loud and opinionated and can’t be missed. Does our culture do better with extroverted people?
What about us introverts? Does God love the introverts too? They can turn strangers into friends very quickly and move through social circles with ease—there’s no embarrassment or nothing about standing in the corner, too shy to speak to others.
Introversion and extroversion
The character Sherlock Holmes was a quiet person. In the book A Study in Scarlet, he said: “I get in the dumps at times and don’t open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just leave me alone. I will be alright soon”.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung invented the word ‘introversion’, in relation to a person finds his/her energy within his/herself. The extrovert finds primarily energy outside in the world around him. Jung reckoned we are born that way. Maybe he was right. I don’t know for sure.
Because our mainstream culture praises the extrovert, nearly all the introverts say, Is there something wrong with me? How often have you heard someone say the introverted person is shy, reclusive, scared, withdrawn and a loner? But that is very unfair and not always correct. The extrovert is rugged and compelling, waiting to be noticed, not taking a back seat. After all, about 75% of the world’s population are labelled extroverts.
Many introverts are gifted writers, artists, musicians, and even actors. I also think that having a rich inner life lends itself towards a deep compassion for others—something I have seen in many introverted pastors and chaplains I have worked with. Furthermore, we are capable of an insight that is borne of self-awareness and listening, a peacefulness that spreads to others, and a servant mindset which is often expressed in behind-the-scenes service.
And these are tremendous personal values which are to be appreciated and prized. Nothing wrong here. So be encouraged if you find yourself in that group. There’s an interesting book out called Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. She says introverts are like rechargeable batteries. They need to stop expending energy and rest, so they can be recharged.
In 2007 a movie was released called Into the Wild. Maybe you remember it. It was nominated for two Golden Globes and did well in the box office. It’s based on the true story about 22-year-old Chris McCandless, a young man who gave away his money and possessions and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness, shunning his worried parents and friends.
He eventually starved to death. He was a solitary man, who needed no-one, searching for an authentic world. An introverted adventure story which ends up in tragedy. He was running from his past, rejecting his sister who tried to reach out to him. He thought his true identity was found in separating himself from others, but isolation only ended in sadness and death.
God uses both introverts and extroverts
The wonderful thing is that God can use you—introverted or extroverted. It doesn’t matter. The Bible is full of all types of personalities. Sometimes I wonder whether any committee would choose someone like Moses or Timothy to plant a church. Moses claimed he was inarticulate and uncomfortable in the spotlight; Moses was simply telling God, I don’t have the gift of gab, I don’t fuss over people—I am better one-on-one. In other words, I am an introvert!
And, in what I think is one of the most thunderous divine responses of all, God booms:
“Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes one deaf or mute or seeing or blind? Is it not I the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11).
The point is rather clear. God is telling Moses, I know exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are, I know exactly what you and every member of humanity are capable of—the choice of you as leader isn’t an accident or a mix-up. Rather it is just the opposite; it is your very introverted nature that makes you my choice for the task at hand!
Timothy was young and struggled with timidity. But he was still a great, and significant person of the New Testament times. So, don’t be worried if you are basically an introverted type. It doesn’t really matter.
We spend too much of our lives looking at the world through other people’s eyes, but at the end of the day, only we ourselves can measure our authenticity, integrity and personal self-worth. Some of us are naturally inward-looking, others need to create space to get our bearings, but all of us need to establish pockets of introspection and reflection in order to find our truest selves.