We all fail at being the church.
There, I said it. Let’s just put that card on the table.
Why? Because if we start out with the understanding that we, ourselves, don’t always get it right, then we can accept that others are going to be messy too. When we defeat our pride, we can’t use it as a weapon against others.
Now, I want to say again that, in my experience, extroverts and introverts work very happily together in the body of Christ. I belong to a book club that is full up with both, and there is nothing but grace and kindness. The extroverts are engaging, the introverts are intense, and all are diligent to show love and support. It is a little slice of heaven on earth…with coffee.
However, in “the church” or between people who do not know each other well, the discord between “-versions” is sometimes a wound. The church that will, without discernment, decide that an introvert cannot pastor or a congregation that is fed solely on emotion and action, is not only in practical error but Biblical error as well.
But we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the pitfalls of the introvert, how a good thing can turn into a bad thing (because if there is something we humans know how to do, it is to muck stuff up).
-There is a difference between “gains my energy through periods of quiet” and “I hate people”.
-There is a difference between “thoughtful and studious” and “cold and unyielding”.
-There is a difference between “I prefer to work alone” and “I refuse to participate”.
And on the extroverted side:
-There is a difference between “Love requires action” and “if you are not actively DOING something all the time, you are lazy”.
-There is a difference between “A Christian will show fruit” and “Prove to me your fruit by being as demonstrative in service as I am”
-There is a difference between “The Lord works actively and personally and one is often moved emotionally” and “The mind is to be neglected in worship. Only emotional experience matters or can affect change”.
We introverts cannot let our desire for closeness, quiet, intimacy, stillness keep us from interacting with humans. Period. We have to get out of our comfort zones. We cannot be grouchy hermits. We still have to show love, mercy, care. We cannot just be brains in jars; we have to be hands and hearts. Being a Christian requires sacrifice and that means, sometimes, sacrificing our quiet time and trusting the Lord to provide the strength we need.
We extroverts cannot let our desire for stimulation and engagement cause us to judge the brother or sister in Christ if they are more subdued. Just as we have no business entering into the bedroom of a married couple, we have no business judging the personal, quiet, intimate relationship of an introvert and the Lord. We also cannot crave the stimulation of excitement and action and interaction so much that we neglect personal prayer and contemplation time, for the Lord often needs us to sit still and just know Him.
For both, we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, body, spirit. That means that some of the ways we love the Lord will be visible, but perhaps not always at 10 am on Sunday and not always by raising our hands and crying and not always by attending every event.
That also means that sometimes, the way we worship God is mentally, deeply, quietly, internally. The Lord will make each of us stand in the way He made us. We will each have to overcome our own biases. The timid will have to become bold, the bold will have to learn discretion, the emotional will have to learn soundness, the logical will have to learn to use the heart, the introvert will have to learn to reach out, and the extrovert will learn to be still.