I find it hard to fit in at church.
Social gatherings make me nervous. The dreaded pause in the middle of worship to shake your neighbor’s hand causes me to have sweaty palms. In general, being around a lot of people makes me feel overwhelmed and drained.
I am an introvert.
Introverts, like me, have a hard time in the typical church culture because the expectation is for the Christian to be gregarious, charismatic and the all-around “life of the party”. In church, those who are often praised are the go-getters—those who are expressive, social and involved in numerous activities. On the other hand, those who are a little more solitary, quiet or reserved may be looked at as “weird”, “uncaring” or even worse, “unloving”.
In the extrovert dominant culture, it can be very easy to misunderstand the introvert and dismiss what they have to offer the body of Christ.
Introverts are those individuals who process things differently. Rather than being overtly expressive (like the extrovert), the introvert deals with things internally. They learn by observation and are introspective. In other words, the introvert spends a lot of time in their own head.
In addition, introverts do not get a "charge" like the extroverts do from being around a large number of people. In fact, introverts need a "recharge" from being in social gatherings because they are expending a significant amount of energy trying to process everything around them.
While the introvert may find certain social situations uncomfortable or even debilitating, where they thrive is in one on one relationships or more intimate social settings. There they can focus and think deeply, listening to the individual and paying very close attention to certain social cues that may be overlooked by some.
It’s one of the reasons why introverts make the best counselors and why they are such a blessing to the church. When you speak to an introvert, you can know that they are listening to you and are actively taking in what you are saying. Moreover, because the introvert is self-aware of their own feelings that makes them keen to empathize and give compassion to others.
As introvert speaking to other introverts, church can be hard for us. I get it. Yet, God uses all kinds of people, even the quiet and reserved ones, for his glory. Our introversion should never be an excuse for us to give up on fellowship or avoid being around people, rather we should take every opportunity we can to use the particular set of gifts to bless others.
Besides, our introversion doesn’t define us ultimately, Christ does. So, before we put ourselves in a box and remain content to never get out or be stretched, let us remember this: That we are Christians who just happen to be introverts.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable because in those moments God is doing a work in you and through you.