The Body of Christ as an Introvert
Updated: Feb 19, 2020
No matter who you are, how you are, your strengths or your weaknesses, we've all had times we felt "less than" and misunderstood. The world is really good at making us see all the things we "should" be. Unfortunately, that's no less true in the church.
It's not one specific person's fault, but there are certain expectations that seem to take precedence in that setting.
Being ebullient and warm and serving in areas that require a lot of interaction is lauded, seemingly, above all else. I'm aware that's not the truth in every community, but I do think it's pretty pervasive. For me, it used to be the motivating factor to my attempts at service. I did all the things. I greeted at church and worked in prison ministry and volunteered at halfway houses.
And I always felt empty and ineffectual.
It was hard for me to connect in those settings, and I never felt like I was serving the kingdom of God in any meaningful way.
Then I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and I realized I was disregarding the bit in the Bible about the members of the body of Christ in I Cor 12:12-27. We're not all eyes, nor hands, nor feet. And the members you can't see are often the most important.
The problem is that the members you can't see don't always look like they are serving:
Maybe someone with anxiety who rarely speaks and never volunteers is the biggest prayer warrior.
Maybe someone else makes meals for anyone in the congregation who's sick.
Maybe someone writes encouraging letters to missionaries overseas.
For me, accepting that those in front volunteer positions may not be for me (and that it was OK!) was HUUUUUGGE. The things I focus on now are usually behind closed doors. I'm writing books I hope will bring others closer to God. I speak truth (gently, I hope!) when I hear people making decisions based on flawed theology. Normally, that truth is peace-giving. I try to connect with individuals I see struggling when God prompts me rather than attending every event my church has with large groups. I'm not great at making others feel comfortable in a crowd (I don't feel comfortable myself!) but I'm pretty good at discipleship and encouragement when it's one or two other people and we can dig deep and be real.
I'm not saying we shouldn't stretch ourselves and go outside of our comfort zones. We totally should be willing to, but only at God's prompting - not because we're afraid others won't think we are serving or because we need to prove our worth.
So, whoever you are and whatever makes you feel "not enough," give yourself permission to follow the promptings God puts on your heart rather than the expectations of man!!
If you want to see a video version of this post, check it out here:
Interested in updates on my bookish wanderings and adventures? Sign up for my newsletter here! You'll get the first chapter of each of my books free (even my work-in-progress!)