I'm sure the apostle Paul didn't have personality tests in mind when he wrote, “The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). But there’s part of me that, to be honest, echoes with that idea at times.
You see, I’m an introvert.
For most of my life I assumed I was an extrovert simply because I wasn’t shy. But, as Susan Cain points out in her TED talk about introversion, “It’s different from being shy. Shyness is about fear of social judgment.” Introversion, on the other hand, is about one’s inner response to social stimulation. Introverts, according to Cain, are “most alive . . . [and] most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments.”
The turning point for me in accepting my introvert self was honestly grappling with the question posed by The Myers & Briggs Foundation: “Where do you put your attention and get your energy?” For extroverts, the answer is “the outer world of people and things” while for introverts it’s the “inner world of ideas.”
While there are degrees of introversion, from the quiet to the outgoing among us, all Christian introverts must grapple with a critical question: How do we live out Scripture’s call to community when, to be honest, we’d often rather be alone? We may not quite be the eye saying, “I don’t need you” to the hand, but at times we may be the eye saying to the hand—and the rest of the body—you exhaust me.1
Introverts Need Community Too
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