14 Ways To Handle A Christian Introvert

Wow! This was written by…. some guy who is my other self? He totally put into words the way most introverts feel, MOST OF THE TIME. And, like the author, I am often in a leadership or speaking position (and no, I can’t explain how I can handle that but become exhausted after 3 hours with a group of friends).

originally posted here: http://jsparkblog.com/2012/12/13/14-ways-to-handle-a-christian-introvert/
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If you ever met me, you would think I was an extrovert — I preach, I lead praise, I talk to everyone, I talk too much, and you can hear me laughing from across the street — but I am a full-blooded introvert.

If it were up to me, I’d rather be in my boxers all day eating Godiva while browsing food photo blogs and bothering my dog and cracking up at YouTube videos of Whose Line Is It Anyway and leaving dry ironic comments all over Facebook while reading the latest theory on how Sherlock survived the second season finale.

I intensely guard my personal space and my private life. It takes a herculean effort to step outside my comfort zone and interact with messy, fleshy, real live human beings.

Here’s how you handle us.

1) In a small group or Bible study or cell meeting, do NOT make us talk.

Introverts are much more methodical and tend to process things. In a group discussion, our silence doesn’t mean we’re not listening. We’re just trying to fit the pieces together in our own head. We aim to be thoughtful and deliberate. Please be sensitive to our secret mind palace. We’ll talk when we dang well feel like it.

2) We just don’t sing like the front row.

It’s great that extroverts can freely express themselves during worship time. But introverts sometimes just read the lyrics, connect inwardly, and keep their hands inside the vehicle. If you see us raising even one hand and singing a few words, we are seriously pushing the gas pedal all the way to the floor.

3) Do not ever rebuke us in public.

Or you and I are done. Forever. You should never do this anyway.

4) Extroverts: be patient in conversation and don’t treat my every word like your personal victory.

Extroverts, it’s okay if you monopolize the conversation. We do like to listen. But please don’t treat us like your personal project with a precious pearl inside. And don’t try to squeeze out my life story as if you’re trying to save us. Earn trust by being a friend first. Unlike extroverts, we’re not good at being best friends on the first day.

5) Fellow introverts: find us quickly.

See me standing awkwardly on the side of the sanctuary watching everyone else have fun? Hurry up and find me so we can make amusing sarcastic comments about life and possibly grow a lifelong spiritual bond that these extroverts can’t understand.

6) We can do anything an extrovert can do.

I’ve seen an entire spectrum of personalities take the “front stage” of church. Not every introvert is meant for “behind the scenes.” Just coach us with extra grace.

7) We get super-tired around a lot of people.

My limit is about four hours, and then I actually get a headache from just hanging around human beings. My Sabbath rest is leave-me-alone-time with my non-judgmental dog. Give us that time without trying to counsel us about it.

8) Don’t be offended if we don’t reply right away.

Sometimes when we see a Facebook invite to that next big church event, we just let it sit there and think about it periodically throughout the week and then come back to it before committing. We do the same thing with text messages, emails, phone calls, and you showing up at the door.

9) Don’t be offended if you see me being extra talkative or friendly with someone else.

Sometimes introverts just interact with people in different ways. It doesn’t mean we don’t like you: it just means we choose to reveal that specific part of us to another pastor, another church buddy, or that cool introvert I just met five minutes ago. You should be cheering us for even opening up at all.

10) Please do NOT bring a lot of attention to us.

Not in the church bulletin, not the church site, not for my birthdays, not for that nice thing I did for the homeless — just please, no spotlight.

11) Sometimes we’re just moody. It’s not depression or a “spiritual attack” or “unconfessed sin.”

One word: space. Lots of it.

12) We don’t always know what to say, but we still care about you.

We use less words and we don’t always use them well, but if we chose to spend this time with you, that means we care.

13) When life gets hard, you don’t have to say anything. Just be there.

Sometimes we just get totally flustered and want to give up: but that’s not the time for lectures or theology or super-awesome advice. Bring a movie or something; bake a cake; bring cookies. Be there for the meltdown and we’ll eventually ask for the wisdom. We very much treasure your scalpel-like gentleness with us.

14) When we get hyper, we are weird and corny and loud and awkward — so be ready for that and embrace it.

On the third day of a church retreat or when it’s five in the morning at a lock-in, the inner-beast might be unleashed. But it’s not very cool and calculated and witty like an extrovert. It’s all kinds of nerdy and neurotic with a shaky voice and twitchy flailing, as if we’re learning to use our bodies for the first time: and in a sense, we are.

When that happens, please don’t humiliate us. Roll with it, laugh with us, and endure our horrible dance moves and bad impressions.

If you do, we are loyal to you for life.

What Happens when Christians become Divisive

….and what we can do about it. Please watch the video for a couple of my thoughts on this topic. Based on Galatians 5.

I’ll post a link here shortly with the “love” verses I promised. 🙂

God’s Name is Father

Does anyone have trouble referring to God as “father”? I did a little survey recently based on this question. I mostly found that people who are close with their own father, the earthly father, are able to relate to a heavenly father in a good way. They pray with a feeling of familiarity, a closeness.

But those who are less close to their earthly father have a hard time referring to God as father.They pray to someone distant.

And then there are those who take it way too far, calling him “the Man upstairs” or other familiar names. To me, this lacks completely and reverence and isn’t how we are supposed to address him.

So here’s my question to you. How do you personally make sense of the awesomeness of God when there is the ability to have such intimacy with him at the same time? How do you strike the balance without being irreverent?

Hint: This is part of my next book!

And thinking of “Our Father” reminded me of the Don Moen song, so here it is for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!


How We Approach God

 

Do we approach God from a beggar’s perspective or as His cherished child? If we have any difficulty seeing Him as our loving Father, we need to ask Him to help us develop a healthy Father/child relationship. ~ David Jeremiah

It’s Decision Time, having trouble?

Do you have trouble making decisions? Whether big decisions or smaller ones, God wants to be a part of every choice you make. Do the little ones matter to Him? YES they do!

Every decision we make, large or small, has the potential to move us closer to God or further away. Rarely do we remain static. So …. when trying to discern His will, what do you do?

Watch the video for some answers. Verses are listed below that are mentioned in the video (I forgot to embed them on the screen!). The whole list is a good set of references for times when you’re trying to decide anything at all. 🙂

Verses, reading mostly from NIV:
Psalm 91
Proverbs 3:5,6
2 Chronicles 15
Isaiah 12:6
Jeremiah 33:3
Hebrews 11:8
James 1:5
Isaiah 30:21

One Song’s ability to Affect lives

For some reason today I was thinking about a time when I was Music Director at Elizabeth Chapel UMC. It’s been a few years ago now. I absolutely loved that church and its members.

One day we were warming up to sing the anthem, when I looked up at my choir. All their faces were strained, and their sound was…not good. It was my fault; I had given them something to learn that was beyond their ability, and then misjudged how quickly we could prepare it. I slammed my book shut.

“Would you guys like to sing something else today?” I asked.

Heads nodded, some ashamed, some relieved. All in agreement.

A quick prayer, then “How Great Thou Art?” I suggested.

So that’s what we sang. Now, this song has affected nearly every listener who’s ever heard it since it came out in its current version in the 1950s. It was particularly effective at Elizabeth Chapel, because while facing the choir I stood at the foot of a huge stained glass depiction of Jesus. Literally–at his feet.

Interestingly, during the song I felt the sudden wind of the Holy Spirit come onto the choir. Their voices were audibly different, stronger, almost as if there were more of them. My hands shook so hard I could barely direct. Afterward, many members came forth to tell us how moved they were by the song.

That was God moving among the congregation that day. I’m so thankful He gave us, you and me, music that we can love and enjoy and allow Him to use to break through to our oft-hardened hearts.

Here is a great video of Vince Gill and Carrie Underwood performing How Great Thou Art. If you aren’t covered in goosebumps by the end, I’d like to know why! 🙂

Whatever happened to the “H” in deity?

So, my Bible Study is in the hands of an editor. (Yay!) A real, live person who is finding all my mistakes and showing me girl, you might have been writing for that past 7 years, but you don’t know how to write.

Ahem.

Yeah ok, I usually have editors for that kind of thing. I had to laugh when I was researching editors (I finally picked one I knew, and who I knew had experience with Christian writing so she would speak the lingo). Anyway there was a suggestion someplace that you check out the potential editors for your manuscript at preditors & editors, that you check their references, that you make sure the person you talk to is really the one who will do the work and has a resume you can see. This is all very good advice. The final suggestion was this:

Take an English class.

Well. If I haven’t learned it by now (I created my first “book” in the 3rd grade, complete with a hard cover held together by yarn) I am probably not going to learn a whole lot in yet another English class. Not to mention that I’ve been repeating my mistakes for lo these many years. Also not to mention that there’s no way that in the next month I’m going to stop making them, English class or no. I’ll just shell out the bucks for an editor.

So back to the title of this post. My editor asked whether I wanted deity pronouns (that’s like “Him” or “His” when referring to God or Jesus) to be capitalized. I was taken aback. I thought that’s what we did! I thought everybody knew to cap the deities. Not the false ones, but the 2 real ones.

Turns out, that’s not even right. The writer’s guidelines say not to capitalize. Furthermore, she said only TWO VERSIONS of the Bible use caps for those pronouns these days. Are you as shocked as I am? Did you know this?

Color me stupid. I thought you always capitalized them, out of reverence. That’s what I’ve decided to do, and I’ll put some sort of disclaimer [disclaimer! What a word to have to use] in the front explaining why MY God still has a capital H in His name.

Do you have any time stealers?

Yep, time-stealers. Those little things that worm their way in and then suck up your time…or the things you begin to think about instead of what you’re supposed to be doing….or the things you begin to obsess about.

The thing is, they can easily turn into idols. But nobody wants to call them that. Idols seem too large, too much, too heavy…..time-stealers are just little annoyances, like no-seeums [tiny gnat-like things that bug you to death, pardon the pun].

Some people call them false gods, or functional gods because they are functioning as your god. Whatever you want to call it — let’s get it outta the way so you can go forward worshiping Jesus! Agreed?

This is a short lesson from my upcoming Bible Study, Come Back to Jesus — and Don’t Bring your Blackberry. It’s only a little premature; the book should be out in Feb. 2013 and will be available wherever books are sold. There is also an ebook version.

What you’ll need: a Bible, or you can use http://www.biblegateway.com to look up passages

To get the survey mentioned in the video, visit this link and click print page.

We’ll cover these verses

Ephesians 55
Ecclesiastes 9:7-10
Colossians 3:5-11
Psalm 1:1,2

Book Review: The Blessed Church, Robert Morris

Robert Morris is the founding senior pastor at Gateway Church in Texas, which in twelve years has grown from a living room to a megachurch with 24,000 members. Many people have asked him how he’s built such a church. In response, his latest book, The Blessed Church (Waterbrook Multnomah 2012), is a discussion of the principles for building a godly, growing church; he calls these nuggets “Keys to a Blessed Church.”

The book is aimed mainly at pastors, but it would be a useful read for any leader or elder who is interested in applying a different strategy to church leadership. Usually, churches apply one of two models for leadership; Morris has successfully created a third. Having been a church staff member myself for some years, I was eager to see what he had to say.

At the beginning I found the book a difficult read; the writing is choppy. He states that he’s not a writer and, well, he’s right! Too, the beginning of the book was a summary of the early days, so part of my problem may have been that I was eager to get to the meat: what are the secrets to building a strong, cohesive, godly church?

Morris is remarkably open, honest, and humble about the church he leads. He shares insight as a man of vast experience, knowledge, and vision. Again and again, he reminds the reader that this is God’s story, not his own. Every key statement is backed by Scripture passages. By the middle of the book, I was dying to go hear him preach.

Some of Morris’ Keys are:
•You can’t communicate vision unless the vision is from the Lord.
•If you are called to pastor, you are called to lead.
•The true shepherd models where he wants the sheep to go. He leads by example.
•Power doesn’t lie in the office of pastor or in the office of elder. Power in the church lies with Jesus.

Morris states: “True and lasting unity comes from valuing relationship above corporate accomplishment, personal fulfillment, and mere policy preferences. Remember: “Relationships above issues.””

This, I believe, is why his church has grown. It’s not about the numbers, or growth. It’s about feeding the sheep and maintaining relationship. He believes that growth without church health is not sustainable.

I recommend this book to anyone who is considering revamping their church’s organizational structure, or who is starting a new church. It would also be a fascinating read to those who are curious about the inner workings of a church.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for free in exchange for creating this review.