The Guilt/Regret/Shame of Introverted Christians

The more Christian introverts I come across, the more that they share this burden that weighs them down. Their being introverts causes them to feel a sense of guilt, or regret, or shame,  for their inability to be completely invested in community all of the time. They often find themselves in a place where they’re overextended, or  in a quiet thought mode of, “I feel like I am missing out on what faith really is,” or “It seems like I to do more… but I just can’t.” As an introvert myself, here are some thoughts that have helped me along the way of being an introvert who is a Christian:

1. Christianity is a community experience. As an introvert I have had to remind myself that it is not the quantity of the relationships, but it is the quality of them.

2. The community-based movement of Jesus was not started with a large group of people (Twelve people, plus family, and a few people they met along the way). If that were a church, it’d be a very small church. If we help change twenty lives in our time, we’ll have done something extraordinary for the world.

3. While Christianity is based in action, it must also be based in contemplation. Introverts, you could make the case, have a head start in contemplation because of their ability to live in the quiet. Introspection, self-knowledge, contemplation can all bring a deeper communion with God. This is something that we might be able to teach more naturally.

4. We must remember that, as important as love of neighbor is, it is deeply intrinsically tied to love of self. How can we give others what we aren’t giving to ourselves first?

Hope this is able to instill a healthier introverted Christianity.

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9 thoughts on “The Guilt/Regret/Shame of Introverted Christians

  1. Paul G says:

    Unfortunately the constant berating of “faster, louder, more” in many churches is pushy and immature…and introverts are wounded by pushy and immature behavior.

    Introverts certainly need to defend their hearts from the guilt/regret/shame you’ve mentioned, but the church bears some responsibility for discipling and deepening introverts and allowing them to be contemplative leaders.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Paul,
      I like this a lot. I appreciate that you want to change the culture. We as introverts need to make our efforts, but we can only go so far. We need a culture that’s accommodating to all people.

  2. episcotheque says:

    Absolutely, Mike, though I may be the exception proving the rule among Christian introverts in your experience. I embrace my introversion. Yeah, it can get in the way––I often wish introducing myself to new guests at church was easier––but I think there are a lot of facets of introversion that complement what comes more easily for the extraverts in church. I’m quick to listen, for instance, and enjoy quiet reflection (I really like your point #3).

    I really do think it takes all kinds in church, and that introverts can shine. Both the interim rector and associate priest in my parish are introverts––and they rock it. Same goes for many of the participants (and leaders) in groups I’m involved with. Sometimes it takes a little more effort to understand the needs and MOs of folks who function in another capacity, but I’m glad there’s such a variety.

    You might like to check out Adam McHugh’s Introverted Church blog––I’ve been enjoying it.

    -Alissa

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Alissa, I appreciate your holistic approach. And, I agree that it takes all types. God created everyone uniquely, and every person has something different to offer to the community. 🙂

  3. Right on Mike. I keep trying to get you to read Introverts in the Church! I am really committed to not only helping introverts embrace their personalities but also to change the cultures of extrovert-tending churches to be more hospitable and understanding.

  4. Michelle Bower says:

    I recently realized that I tend to envy extroverts — especially ones in the church — because they seem to be better at loving people. I’m trying to figure out what it means to love as an introvert, not by imitating extroverts, but in our own unique way. Any thoughts on this?

    • Mike Friesen says:

      I’m not sure they’re better at loving people. I think they might be better at loving people in their way. 🙂

      I think what’s important to remember is who we are as people, and what we have to give. Introverts have resources that extroverts don’t. Because of their desire to go inward and away, many introverts offer me a quality of depth, and the ability to be heard, that some extroverts might not be able to offer.

      My friends and family know that when I am tired, agitated, it’s best to give me the space to breathe. That space is a gift of love.I think it’s best to remember who we are and know what we can give to others. You have resources that only you can give.

  5. Speaking on behalf of those of us who seem to constantly be moving and doing and serving and relating, I have to say that I deeply appreciate know that I have the resource of those of you who seem to have mastered the arts of quiet stillness and contemplation far more than I could ever dream. Where you may feel you should be “doing more” with the people around, my heart feels the weight of longing for a stronger ability to sit still, unplug my mind and be still and present before God.

    The beautiful thing about community the way God designed it is that it was not only designed for all of us, but to function fully and completely, it requires each of us. And it requires that we come exactly as we are (and as who we are). Loud and gregarious or quiet and contemplative, for a community to have life in abundance, it every one of us.

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