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Introverts & Fellowship

Introverts & Fellowship

Postby Jason » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:37 am

A while back a friend recommended that I read a certain book and at the front is a personality quiz. The results very much confirmed what I'd always known; namely, that I'm of the melancholy persuasion (introverted, too cerebral, etc). As far back as I can remember, this has always been the case. My siblings all seem very extroverted, although we grew up in the same home. So I'm convinced this is something we're born with. I certainly wouldn't choose to be an introvert, since it can be socially limiting.

So my question is: how does a severely introverted person engage in true Christian fellowship? I have a small group of close friends but have been wanting to branch out and meet new people each week like extroverts do. Partly because I like doing apologetics (a rather ironic gifting) and meeting and engaging with lots of people is really the way to properly do that. At times, it feels almost sinful to be introverted and I wrestle with this. I'm never comfortable in a crowded room of strangers but I have friends who thrive in those situations. They love it. My son is even an extrovert.

This issue also comes to bear when dealing with worship. I prefer a quiet, meditative practice (such as the Catholics do) and find loud music and lengthy, unscripted prayer utterly distracting. This also feels sinful at times, as if my personal whims are what's most important. And yet, I haven't found a way to "make" myself into an extrovert. Does anyone else wrestle with this sort of thing or are you guys and gals all extroverted?

Cheers.
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby TruthInLove » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:30 pm

Hi Jason,

Many people can sympathize with what you are experiencing, I'm sure. I struggle with exactly this same sort of thing myself on a daily basis. You might find it encouraging to know that to a large extent, I think I can honestly say that I've managed to overcome my tendency towards introversion. It's still a conscious struggle though.

Like you, I have a strong interest in apologetics and have a passion to somehow make a tangible difference for Christ. But I do enjoy long bouts of silence and reflection. Somewhat surprisingly though, I'm actually finding myself in career that's progressing more and more toward the social side of the spectrum every year.

Have you thought much about what makes you tend to prefer time away from people? What do you currently feel when you fellowship?
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby Jason » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:04 pm

Thanks for sharing that. I have thought about this and I always tend to run from superficiality. And meet-and-greets and most social occasions seem to revel in the superficial. "Hi, what's your name?" "Tell me what you do again?" "How long have you been in the area?" I learned to overcome some of the unease when a close friend told me to always ask people about themselves. Unless they're also an introvert, most folks love talking about themselves. Then I can just listen and ask questions; something introverts are good at. But that's a technique, not a solution. A solution would be to feel comfortable meeting and having fellowship with new folks. Have you arrived at that place of comfort yet?

One thing I'm not proud of is that I can fake it pretty well. Most people who engage with me probably wouldn't suspect I'm itching to run away from them. So I'm not awkward around people, I just feel superficial putting up a front. This will probably make zero sense to extroverts. :?
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby Jason » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:16 pm

Oh, on a side note -- I once heard that A.W. Tozer was fairly introverted and this caused him to gain a negative reputation among some of his congregation. Not sure if that's true or not.
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby TK » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:36 pm

Introversion is a mystery- it definitely describes me. There are paradoxes to introversion. For example, I would rather give a speech to a large group of people than mingle informally with them afterwards. I enjoy church services but don't like mingling in the lobby afterwards.

In my mind, I am terribly uncomfortable making small talk with strangers or semi- strangers but my wife, who is my extroverted opposite, says that I do fine in those situations. So the feeling I have on the inside is not necessarily what folks perceive.

So my advice is to not change how you are because you can't.

I just heard a guy give a short talk on how to get people to listen to what you have to say.
He gave 7 things to avoid:
1. Gossip
2. Judging
3. Negativity
4. Complaining
5. Excuses
6. Exaggeration/embellishing
7. Dogmatism

And 4 foundations for speech(HAIL)

H onesty
A uthenticity
I ntegrity
L ove
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby steve » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:45 pm

Oh, on a side note -- I once heard that A.W. Tozer was fairly introverted and this caused him to gain a negative reputation among some of his congregation. Not sure if that's true or not.


This is correct. There were people who resented him for this. I think some people are not interested in small talk (to which one is invariably subjected in social situations), because they are often meditating on deep things, which they find more interesting.

I am also something of an introvert, and have always been. Speaking in front of a group is comfortable for me, but it is difficult for me to strike up a conversation with strangers, or to remain long in a conversation about trivial matters. I have a broad social circle, due to the nature of my ministry and travels, but enjoy being alone most of the time with my family and my books. I think it is a good thing for some people to be introverts. They spend much time alone with their thoughts, and can often think things through more thoroughly (and even write more alliteratively) than they would have leisure to do if they spent more time socially. I don't mean to say that extroverts do not think things through. In the right company, they can process ideas in conversation with others (which I also find helpful).
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby TruthInLove » Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:10 pm

Jason wrote:A solution would be to feel comfortable meeting and having fellowship with new folks. Have you arrived at that place of comfort yet?


I think that I have in most situations. I can understand how you feel about the superficiality of social gatherings. I agree that the way most people handle these situations is mere socializing and profits everyone involved very little aside from entertainment. Granted, sometimes a little human contact is quite encouraging. Especially, when someone is overwhelmed with troubles and needs someone who can relate to them. However, I don't generally think of that as fellowship in its most edifying form. I find social interactions to be most satisfying when I feel I've laid some groundwork to really being of service to the people I've interacted with.

To that end, I think the advice your friend gave is quite good. Asking questions and listening to the answers is a great way to survive social situations. However, beyond mere survival, that technique is a great way to learn how you can genuinely help people, serving Christ in the process. The tricky parts are knowing what questions to ask and perhaps even more so, appreciating just how much of an impact such an approach to servitude can have for the Kingdom and one's own relationship to Christ. Those are things I'm still learning to appreciate, but it seems I'm reminded almost daily how small impacts made with humility over time can cumulate into significant gains, for time and for eternity.

There are some great tools to help with these items if you truly feel the Spirit leading you to modify your approach. However, as others have alluded to, God uses all sorts of personality types to accomplish His purposes. Engaging lots of people is not a prerequisite for carrying out God's will for your life and quantity is no substitute for quality.
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby dwight92070 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:10 am

I'm off to work, so won't have time to elaborate but my son has this on his wall: "Do you worship God or what others think about you?" I think that has some relevance here.
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby TK » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:43 am

Quote: "Do you worship God or what others think about you?"

I certainly understand the gist of this statement, but being concerned with how you are perceived by others does not mean you are worshiping the approval of other persons.

Many folks would do quite well to take a moment to think about how they are perceived by others or ask someone they trust to honestly tell them.
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Re: Introverts & Fellowship

Postby dwight92070 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:15 pm

[quote="Jason"]Thanks for sharing that. I have thought about this and I always tend to run from superficiality. And meet-and-greets and most social occasions seem to revel in the superficial. "Hi, what's your name?" "Tell me what you do again?" "How long have you been in the area?"

Dwight: Superficiality is not bad. Communication of surface issues is often the beginning of conversation. We should be genuinely interested in people's name, job, and how long they have been in the area. Those things are important to them and should be to us, if we love all people.

A solution would be to feel comfortable meeting and having fellowship with new folks. Have you arrived at that place of comfort yet?

Dwight: There's always some nervousness meeting new people for me, but I want to keep doing it.

One thing I'm not proud of is that I can fake it pretty well. Most people who engage with me probably wouldn't suspect I'm itching to run away from them. So I'm not awkward around people, I just feel superficial putting up a front

Dwight: This appears to me to be something that you should not be proud of, like you're being dishonest with people. If that is true, you should ask God to forgive you for your fake front you're presenting, and ask Him to help you to be genuine and to genuinely be interested in other people, even though their talk seems superficial. Again, superficiality might be a bad thing, if people have known each other for a long time, but not for people who are just getting acquainted.

Dwight: There is an issue, however, that I have run into several times. In showing genuine interest and concern for some people, I have found myself almost "trapped" by them - i.e. they will talk my head off and really don't seem to be concerned about anything I say. If I don't intervene somehow, I will be stuck with them for hours. I find that very manipulative and will try to cut it off quickly, once I sense that it is happening. They will go on and on, giving details about things, whether you want to hear it or not. Showing genuine love to these folks requires being firm with them and telling them you have to go. That's not a lie, you should go, if they are trying to "hold" you with their talk.
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