Quietly Faithful: Home, Home on the Range

By Stephen R. Clark

by Danielle Dolin

Recently I asked a few friends to tell me how they saw themselves, as an introvert or extrovert. And, also, how they came to that conclusion. Most claimed to be introvert or at least introvert-leaning. All based their determination of type on whether or not they liked hanging out with people. And a few claimed to be ambiverts, meaning they believed they could take on either role equally.

Being an introvert or extrovert doesn’t mean you are all one and none of the other. The reality is that there is a range of behavior and other factors that make up both styles. While we may feel most at home on the introvert end of the range (or spectrum or continuum), all introverts will exhibit varying degrees of extroverting over their lifetimes.

Still, once an introvert always an introvert. While over time an introvert may become more and more comfortable tackling extrovert roles, we really don’t change from introvert to extrovert, or vice versa.

Introverts that can behave or function like an extrovert are also not necessarily ambiverts. In fact, I would say in most instances this is not the case.

I am a hard core introvert, yet I am also able to function–for a limited period of time–in a very extroverted way. I can lead small groups, facilitate events, preach, and schmooze. More than once in these situations when I’ve outed myself as an introvert, those present didn’t believe me. What they saw of me looks very extroverted to them.

When introverts are doing something they are passionate about, we are able to move on the range more toward the extroversion side. We are able to do this in part because we can envision a discrete period of time that will come to an end. We are thrilled when you show up for the event we’re leading, but we are also relieved when we can all go home!

So, yes, an introvert can be in a situation requiring them to behave in a very extroverted way, but they are still an introvert. They will eventually need solitude and down time to recharge.

It’s also not about people, it’s about the number of interactions. In her book, Introvert Power, Dr. Laurie Helgoe explains that extroverts are “able to accommodate a large number of interactions.” While introverts “fill up” on fewer interactions. Introverts “prefer spacious interactions with fewer people.”

In other words, introverts love having meaningful interactions with fewer people. In the space (time) in between those interactions, as the introvert thinks about and savors them, they are deepened. Extroverts, on the other hand, “wrap up interactions in the interaction.” Kind of like, out of sight out of mind.

It’s normal to be able to move up and down (or right and left, depending how you envision it) on the range as circumstances require. Where you feel most at home, most yourself, most whole on the introvert-extrovert range will indicate which you are. And whichever you are, it is good!

Stephen R. Clark is a writer who lives in Lansdale, PA with his wife, BethAnn, where they attend Immanuel Church. His website is www.StephenRayClark.com. He is a member of the Evangelical Press Association and managing editor of the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog. He is also a news writer for The Baptist Paper and contributor to the Englewood Review of Books. His writing has appeared in several publications. You can contact Stephen at cnjintrovert@gmail.com. The content of this column is copyright © by Stephen R. Clark.

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