I will come right out and confess it. I am a professional extrovert. That means that I converse with people in large gatherings as part of my job. However, I am an introvert by nature. For every large event I attend, I must have ample time to recover mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In my case, I become physically ill if I stay on the go too much.
According to Myers-Briggs (and I have taken this at least twice, both with the same results), I am an INTJ (introvert-intuitive-thinker-judger). This means that I am more introverted than extroverted—introverts need more alone time than extroverts; I am more intuitive than sensing—intuitives are better at processing abstract ideas than concrete ones; I am a thinker rather than a feeler—thinkers desire objective truth and logical principles rather than emotional issues; and I am more a judger than a perceiver—judgers are more structured and desire a plan, whereas perceivers are more spontaneous.
But what does it mean to be an introvert? Do introverts dislike people? Well, no. The difference between extroverts and introverts is in how the person recharges. Extroverts (sometimes spelled “extraverts”) enjoy being around lots of people for extended periods of time. They tire more quickly and become quickly bored when they are in small groups, or when they are alone. Extroverts hate being alone! I know because my son is extremely extroverted. In contrast, introverts enjoy being in small groups and having time to themselves. If you want to tell whether a person is introverted or not, tell them that they must go to a function where large groups of people will attend. Extroverts will jump for joy and are excited about the event, whereas introverts will try to hide their displeasure with a forced smile. Think about the difference between Tigger and Piglet or Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh series. Tigger is a rambunctious extrovert. Piglet and Eeyore are introverts.
Is introversion something that can be fixed? In an episode of the Andy Griffith Show, Barney Fife claims that if Opie studies too much then he will become an introvert (Andy Griffith Show, “Opie Flunks Arithmetic,” Apr. 19, 1965). But is this true? No. People are created differently and for good reason. God has a plan and a purpose for both extroverts and introverts.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12–31, Paul notes that God created a variety of people with different gifts and abilities who are unified as part of the same church, created by the same Father, saved by the same Savior, and filled with the same Spirit. But why did God make some extroverts and some introverts? I offer a few reasons why I think he did.
Evangelism and Discipleship Relationships. Extroverts make great evangelists, whereas introverts make great disciple-makers. Extroverts are good with large groups of people. They can quickly stir interest with numerous people. However, extroverts aren’t so good with one-on-one conversations and small groups. Enter the introvert. Introverts excel at interpersonal relationships in one-on-one scenarios. Extroverts have high motors which can stir up interest in Christ. However, introverts can fine-tune a person’s life to personally help them be a better Christian. Some of the most stellar preachers I have ever heard have been extroverts. However, some of the greatest pastors I have encountered were introverted.
Teaching. Extroverts and introverts can both be good teachers. Extroverts will razzle and dazzle you with stellar presentations that leave you wanting more. While introverts may not have the whipped cream on their presentation, their content is incredible. For instance, I heard the late Norman Geisler speak in Charlotte at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics. He was not energetic. In fact, he spoke mostly in a monotone voice reading his talk from a manuscript. Yet, the content he presented was deep. He spoke of the attributes of God and who God is. Even now as I type these words, I remember the awe that I had with the content of his lecture. In my opinion, I think that extroverts make the best speakers and introverts make the best scholars.
Ministry. Extroverts make the best program developers. They can handle large amounts of work in a short amount of time. Due to their high-energy motors, they thrive on staying busy. Extroverts can make a huge impact when their energies are directed in the right path. Introverts make for the best counselors. They take time that extroverts won’t to listen to the problems that a person has and help the person with their troubles.
As people, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Extroversion and introversion are no different. As one examines the pages of Scripture, extroverts and introverts are readily seen. Peter and Paul were strong extroverts, whereas John and Barnabas were introverts. Yet, Peter and Paul could not have possessed the ministries that they did if it were not for John and Barnabas. Peter wrote a couple of letters but focused his attention on evangelism. But where would the church be if it were not for the theologically rich documents written by John? If it were not for the introverted Barnabas, the extroverted Paul’s ministry would never have taken flight. Where would the extroverted Martin Luther have been if it were not for the introverted Philip Melanchthon to keep him grounded? By the way, some believe that Melanchthon’s theology was deeper than Luther’s.
This is not to say that extroverts or introverts are better than the other. It is to say that God created us differently so that we could work together to do great things for Christ. So, stop trying to change introverts into extroverts, and vice versa. Accept each other as we are, creations from God. Use your gifts and strengths for the glory of God while challenging one another to strengthen our weaknesses.
© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.
Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, and the author of the soon to be released book The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for nearly 20 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.