Changing the world as an Introvert

One of my greatest facades, or one of the greatest misinterpretations of who I am is that people think I am an outgoing, loud-mouth (which is probably true), or somehow the life of the party. While I am an articulate and somewhat polished communicator, I am also very introspective, go through periods of withdrawal. I really don’t like small talk. If it’s not engaging, funny or informative, it is draining to me. Talking to and meeting new people is often exhausting (although still very exciting if that person is engaging, funny or informative) for me unless I feel the safety to share with them my deeper inner life. Even though many people are surprised by this confession, I am an introvert. I love solitude, prayer and being alone, its how I recharge spiritually, psychologically and emotionally.

Being an introvert, one of our greatest fears, I believe, is that we are missing out on the life outside of us. We feel the stress of not meeting new people, not going to the new place, or for those of us who are not married, finding the “right” person. We feel we are missing the life “out there”. When we look at people who are changing the world, we often believe that these people have big crowds, big movements, big speeches. All of which are draining and exhausting to the introvert (even though many introverts can do these things very well). If you find yourself in the introverted camp and are discouraged by your work, your relationships, your social contribution, let me encourage you with this.

Jesus tells about the parable of the mustard seed. That when we plant small seeds, they produce big things. The small acts of love that we do, the small acts of justice that we participate in, the small amount of money that we give, can really go a long way. When we look at Jesus, although he had public moments, he changed the world with a group of twelve men, which isn’t very much. Many of us have more than twelve relationships in our life. If we poured our love, our hope, our faith, our prayer, our peace into twelve relationships, the world can be changed. As Jesus poured his life into this small group of twelve, they changed the world through their own small communities. This is why your job as a mother/father, daughter/son, friend and significant other is so important. If we give our lives to even just twelve people, the world can be changed. Your contribution of your inner life and seeking of wisdom will bless and give in love to those in need. Don’t discredit the value of the life that you give to your 12 (even if its less than that). Large communities are not for all of us, but, as extroverts give themselves to many, we can give much of ourselves to a smaller amount.

Your life, your small communities, your “small” amount of relationships can change the world.

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10 thoughts on “Changing the world as an Introvert

  1. Jessica says:

    Thank you for the reminder to truly pour into those around me. Sometimes I feel (as an introvert as well) that I’m not the one making a difference, but I just have to remember I can make a difference around me. Great words, as always!

  2. Great post. I struggle with this sometimes as well. While I agree with your point, there is also something to be said about venturing out of your comfort zone. If I hadn’t ignored every inkling in my body to skip out on an invite to an ex-teacher’s start-up church, I wouldn’t be playing live music in the praise band, on the church board, and many other things I thought were pipe-dreams. So while agree that we should love and invest in the people around us, Jesus also ventured out into the scary world of lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors. It definitely gives me an uneasy feeling, but God helps us do what we think we can’t.

  3. Thanks for the refreshing perspective. Americans do over-value extroversion, in my opinion, or at least denigrate introversion too much. As an introvert myself, I find this discouraging, but it is true that we have great influence even over a few people, as you’ve said. Jesus really does seem to have had some characteristics of an introvert, often trying to retreat. I think the hard part for introverts is handling the interruptions that inevitably come from children, people needing help, etc., as they came for Jesus. He handled them so graciously and patiently. Me… not so much!

  4. CLR says:

    Hmm.

    Speaking as a Frenchperson (among other things), I’ve always felt that my culture values the “less-is-more” approach in terms of relationships. It’s very hard to make initial contact with a stranger, but once you get past that initial barrier, you’re truly friends — not just mere acquaintances.

    In that sense, I would tend to say that, as an introvert, but also as a French introvert, I would rather have less “friends” than what an extrovert might have, but have real friendships that I take care of and that are truly beneficial to both parties.

  5. besweet101 says:

    Great article! Sometimes people think they have to be an extrovert to change the world but as mentioned in this article Jesus was one who withdrew to find new strength (in spending time with the Father). A great model for us, even if most of us rarely live up to it. It’s too easy to think we’re independent and can function without God. We can, but without a Kingdom impact.

    I have also found that group situations for me are really draining, I get so much more out of just being with one person and yet that situation for someone else can be very intimidating. What a diverse creation we are! 🙂

  6. Mark Muller says:

    Cool blog Mike. I get where you’re coming from, being an insecure loudmouth myself :-/ Not saying you are one, btw!
    God bless,
    Mark

  7. Julie Rhodes says:

    Good word! Thanks Mike.

  8. carleennimrod says:

    Great and encouraging post! I’ve struggled with understanding my place as an introvert in this world as well as in the church. After many years of frustration (and tears), I’ve come to a happy place of accepting my quiet and reflective personality in loud and boisterous community. I truly enjoy being an introvert–we do have a knack for effectively influence those immediately around us….who then influence others.

    Cheers to introverts!

  9. tommyab says:

    great post

  10. Chika says:

    Really love this post. It really reflects how I feel about small talk and some of my struggles as an introvert who is passionate about God. Like Carleen, I’ve learnt to accept my personality as God-given and necessary for my spirituality while allowing others to be different.
    It’s encouraging to see others who feel the same way but still get involved in God’s kingdom.

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