Quietly Faithful: Mary, Did You Know You’re An Introvert?

By Stephen R. Clark

by Danielle Dolin

A loved and also derided song that pops up a lot this time of year is “Mary, Did You Know?” It asks of Mary, the mother of Jesus, such rhetorical questions as did she know her son would one day walk on water, heal the blind, and basically save the world.

Author Adam McHugh might add to this list the question, “Mary, did you know you were an introvert?”

While it’s possible to look at characters in the Bible and speculate as to their introversion of extroversion, we can’t definitively label any one way or the other. But we can suss out some clear markers of both personality types.

For example, the Apostle Peter is one of the clearer examples of extrovert behavior in the Bible. In his book, Introverts in the Church, McHugh writes, “Peter stands out as a man with highly extroverted tendencies. He was upfront and aggressive, quick to speak and quick to act.”

But what about Mary? Of her, McHugh observes that she “showed a reflective, introspective side as she ‘treasured all these things in her heart’ (Luke 2:51).”

But is this enough to declare her an introvert?

In the Matthew version of the Christmas story (chapters 1-2), while Mary is clearly a character in the story of Jesus’ birth, Matthew places her in the center of the action but she doesn’t speak. Joseph takes the lead in all that’s happening. She could be characterized as passive and withdrawn. However, neither of these characteristics is a true sign of introversion.

Luke (chapters 1-2), however, casts Mary a little differently. We see her encounter with the angel Gabriel and her reaction described as “she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be” (Luke 1:29, CSB).

She listens carefully and then seeks more information from Gabriel saying, “How can this be [being pregnant], since I have not had sexual relations with a man? (1:34)” Note that she is not at all questioning what she’s been told, but simply seeking clarification on an important detail.

Gabriel patiently explains and then broadens the context of what’s happening to include Mary’s relative, Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary visits Elizabeth, perhaps to validate what she’s been told, and then commemorates what’s happening with poetry!

Finally, Jesus is born and shepherds show up telling an amazing story about how they were directed to seek out the newborn babe. How did Mary respond? Verse 2:19 states, “But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.”

Listening carefully, seeking clarification, validating information, expressing emotions and praise in poetry, and then quietly observing, taking everything in, and meditating (or mulling) on what’s happening — these are all clear introvert markers.

My point? Introversion is a good thing. It is a valid way of being. Introverts can be (and have been) powerfully, even though quietly, used of God to further the gospel and accomplish great things for his kingdom on earth.

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 (tinyurl.com/cfwriters). 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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