Quietly Faithful: Why This Is Important

By Stephen R. Clark

by Danielle Dolin

The full title of this column is “Quietly Faithful: Being a Christian Introvert.” The goal of the column as stated in the very first entry, is to “explore the world of introverts, examine why we are different, discover ways to manage and thrive, and learn that it’s very okay to be how God has made us.”

This is what we’ve done for the past 10 weeks. But some readers – particularly extroverts – may be wondering why this is important.

It affects how we perceive and treat one another

In their book, Type Talk (1988), authors Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesen explain, “…it’s almost second nature for us to pigeonhole and catalog people around us, though not always accurately or positively.”

We know this is true. We meet someone new, watch how they behave, and label them as outgoing, shy, chatty, cute, boring, sweet, rude, goofy, or something else. These on-the-spot labelings are based on brief and mostly inaccurate assessments. Yet they stick. Kind of like that nickname you hate that’s followed you all the way from grade school.

By having a basic understanding of personality types, our understanding of one another gains depth and accuracy. Knowing the basic traits that mark introverts and extroverts, we can recognize how these play out in social setting. Instead of viewing someone as stand-offish, we can recognize their introversion and know they just need time to become comfortable in a new situation. By understanding what drives extroverts, we can see them as gregarious rather than obnoxious.

It affects how we recognize and use our giftings

The MBTI was developed by Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers during World War II. In the book Type Talk, the authors share that this grew out of observing “that many people in the war effort were working in tasks unsuited to their abilities.” This happens in churches a lot. It’s due to individuals not fully understanding how they are gifted coupled with the frequent need to fill slots with volunteers, aka any “warm and willing body.”

If you’ve ever been matched to a task for which you were not suited, you understand the frustration that ensues. Even though you have a heart to serve, doing this task is a grind. You feel guilty every time you recognize you’re dreading serving in the role.

It affects how we read and understand the Bible

Karen Jobes, in her excellent book, Esther: The NIV Application Commentary (1999) states, “We can gain valuable insights from listening to readings of the biblical texts from others who have been shaped by experiences significantly different from our own.”

When it comes to understanding scripture, context is king! Part of context is understanding, as much as we are able, the personality types of the characters. Or, at least viewing them through both extrovert and introvert lenses. Doing so can open up new insight into familiar passages.

Many people view Gideon in the Bible as lacking courage. In the next two columns, we’re going to take a closer look at Gideon as an introvert who is truly a mighty warrior of God. Those who think him cowardly are likely looking at his story through the eyes of an extrovert.

Taking the time to understand and appreciate the God-given differences each of us possess is all part of loving others as ourselves and acting with unity as the body of Christ.


Agree? Disagree? Have a question about this column? Email Stephen at cnjintrovert@gmail.com. Share your thoughts about being a Christian introvert!

Stephen R. Clark is a writer who lives in Lansdale, PA with his wife, BethAnn, where they are members of 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. The content of this column is copyright © by Stephen R. Clark.

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