I was expressing to a friend of mine the other day, how I don’t like sitting in large churches where I don’t know anyone. The reason is quite simple. I am an introvert. Now I can be quite charming and sociable when I know people. But put me in a room full of strangers and I can get quite socially awkward. It is one reason I prefer smaller churches and/or places where fostering relationships are easier.
One common piece of advice that I get regarding my introvertedness is that my problem is I need to make the first move. In other words, the reason I often feel disconnected in a crowd or unable to make friends easily is because I’m not an extrovert. Basically, that is what this advice suggests. So the solution is to stop being an introvert but be an extrovert.
I am troubled by this advice, which I’ve heard so much. First, it tells me the problem is that how I am designed is deficient. Second, it is telling me that I should be someone I am not. And while I admire those who are able to overcome their introvertedness, I don’t know that is the best solution.
I recall many times when I’ve been in a situation where I was or had the propensity to be socially awkward and what broke me out of it was interacting with an extroverted person. What this says to me is that the extrovert being who they are helped me with who I am. That is where some really good connections were made.
Taking that a step further, I can’t help but see the application for body life in our Christian communities. Rather than telling the introvert or the extrovert to be someone they are not, they can help each other by being who they are. The extrovert can break an introvert out of their shell. On the contrary, since extroverts can be overbearing, the introvert can calm them and curb the propensity towards intrusiveness.
So I really think we need to evaluate how we advise people to overcome their introvertedness or even extrovertedness. Let them be who they are. They need each other.