Just as in the public life (politics etc), extroverts tend to dominate churches, and the cultural perception of how church people should behave tends to fit the extrovert mold. Bubbly, excitable, chatty, uber-friendly, going to every advertised event in the church bulletin. And I would venture to say that in many instances, this is as much an internal perception as it is an external perception. Historically there have been a lot of “expected” behaviours in churches, but I think that’s all changing with the rise of Gen Y (who have highly tuned BS meters and don’t tolerate fakes)…and the authenticity movement that is bringing a breath of fresh air and a healthy dose of real-ness to modern churches. (In the words of John Burke…come as you are…no perfect people allowed!)
So what is an introvert to do? How does an introvert fit into a community that (whether they admit it or not) often judges your spiritual health by whether or not you come out to the whole-church potluck dinner, or by the number of other social events you attend?
I want to encourage you to NOT attempt to fit the cookie-cutter church-person-mold. Ultimately that will burn you out, you will be faking who you are to please people, and you will wind up resenting your community.
I want you to be who God created you to be, and to live up to the potential He has placed in your life!
I have found that there are two things that you need to understand to be able to be all that God created you to be and to function as a valued part of the body of Christ:
- understand and accept who you are as a child of God; and
- understand that God is in the people business. His whole plan for the salvation of humanity revolves around relationships.
Do not judge yourself according to what the people around you say or expect. Measure yourself against the standards that God sets. End of story. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
I have found that this approach has brought me a tonne of peace in my life. What have you discovered in your life?