In my most recent post, 3 things every extrovert needs to know, I confessed some of the things I am working on to become a more balanced and healthy person.
I’ve heard from many of you connected with that post, wired like me, by nature. But what about the other side of the spectrum? What about the introverts?
Introverts are people who are often energized by being alone. Solitude is their chance to recharge, giving them just the amount of energy they need to go out and face the world and the many, many, people therein. My friend Madoc, is an introvert. I love his perspective on what it means to be an introvert, and I know many of you will connect with and enjoy his first guest post on some things every introvert needs to know. –Debra
1. Let God create balance in you. All of Debra’s blogs, and a specific comment from Ganise, show us the need for balance. It’s fine and dandy to be wired toward extroversion or introversion, right brain or left brain, indoor or outdoor athletics, Romans or the Gospels. Proverbs says of financial measurement and, by implication, of all life issues: “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 11:1, KJV). Several years ago Dr. Karl Menninger wrote his landmark book on mental health under the title The Vital Balance. God doesn’t make us all to be alike; He does want us all to grow up into Christ in all things (Eph. 4:15).
And Jesus is balanced.
(By the way, studies have shown that developing the weaker dimensions of our personalities can diminish the effect of a stroke. Life in Christ is healthy life! But I digress…)
2. Develop love for people in times of solitude. I have found that the solitude of the prayer closet is where my love for others begins. Now my wife is quite an extrovert, like Debra; she just ploughs into a group of people and the Holy Spirit just seems to flow through her like a stream through a valley. But I have to do it differently.
I was recently part of one and officiated at another wedding. Now, believe me, weddings can
be downright painful for introverts. People like Debra and my wife absorb energy from receptions, rehearsal dinners, dances, and parties. And that’s great; Jesus loved a crowd too. But I had to prepare for the gathering long before the people gathered.
I prayed for the people I would be with. In a few cases I prayed for them, loved them in prayer, for days and hours prior to the wedding day. And those prayers actually meant that when it was time for the social events, I was glad to be there. I was able to spread a bit of God’s love for the people because of the time with God before the people were there.
My solitude with God prepared me to love more like God loves.
3. Love people one individual at a time. Don’t be intimidated by a crowd. Let God lead you through the crowd to the individuals that God would have you connect with. Think about the style of Jesus’ love: although He did at times address groups of people, much of His ministry of love was focused on one individual at a time. And that defines a love style that even an introvert can emulate.
I was privileged many years ago to preach a sermon in Princeton Theological Seminary’s Miller Chapel. My mouth was so dry, my heart beating so fast, and my hands trembling so much that it is a wonder of grace that I made it through one sentence. I had a dear friend in the congregation who had a daughter with cystic fibrosis. I focused the entire sermon on him and a few other individuals, not the congregation as a whole. And though I wasn’t focused on the crowd, the crowd loved it.
You see, if an introvert can love one person at a time, the whole crowd can benefit. A crowd, after all, is just a group of individuals.
Why is it important to develop a balanced personality capable of doing the uncomfortable thing now and then?
The call of God, and especially some aspects of God’s call like dating, can make introverts of us all! The most sociable person around can become a blubbering stumblebum when asking for a first date. Or preaching a first sermon. Or proposing for marriage to our beloved. Or writing a first book.
But God always, always provides the grace for us to do what He calls us to do and to be. And He calls us, above all, even introverts like me, and perhaps you, to live as Christ lived. (1 John 2:6). He calls us to come out of our closet and love as He loves.
Even as introverts.
Madoc Thomas is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He lives in Texas with his sweet wife, Calder. You can find more of his blogs, a preview of his coming book, and his full biography at http://www.madocthomas.com.