Yesterday, Dan from “Cerulean Sanctum” left an excellent question/statement/comment on my post “He invites us to live side by side as a family.” Because of his comment, I’ve been thinking alot about introverts and extraverts as part of community in Christ. (Please read Dan’s whole comment, because he brings up several other excellent points.)
In my post, I pointed out that the deep friendships that make up community in Christ do not happen overnight, especially among people who are not accustomed to those kinds of friendships. Of course, because the Spirit dwells in each of us, there is an immediate connection. However, it takes time to develop the kind of familiarity and trust necessary for community. (By the way, I think that any healthy community will actually have different people with different levels of relationships with one another. But, those relationships will be growing.)
So, what does this have to do with extraverts and introverts? Well, first, let’s admit that there are very few pure extraverts or pure introverts. Everyone is somewhere on the continuum between being a pure extravert and a pure introvert. And, in different situations, some people are extraverted or more introverted or vice versa. But, for the sake of this post, let’s consider people either introverts or extraverts.
For both introverts and extraverts, there are strengths and weaknesses related to community.
For example, extraverts typically meet people easily. They quickly come to know a little about a lot of people. They can have a tremendous number of acquaintances. But, extraverts often struggle at deeper relationships.
Introverts, on the other hand, struggle meeting people initially. They may not have very many acquaintances at all. But, for those people they do meet, they tend to relate to a few more deeply quicker.
If you’ve followed along so far, you may recognize something: extraverts and introverts need each other. (Of course, that should be pretty obvious, since God created us to need and rely on one another.)
So, why do extraverts and introverts have such a hard time getting along many times? Well, the same reason we have a hard time getting along with anyone. We focus on ourselves, our needs, our desires, and our personalities instead of focusing on the other person(s).
Extraverts won’t get to know introverts by forcing them to act like extraverts. Introverts won’t develop deep relationships with extraverts by forcing them to be introverted.
If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s the basis of our relationships with one another in Jesus Christ and the basis of our service to others in Jesus’ name. This passage probably says it about as good as any:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:1-5 ESV)
How can extraverts and introverts relate to one another as community in Jesus Christ? By caring more about the other person(s) than themselves. How can they do that? By having the mind of Christ – a mind that pushes them away from their own rights and toward a life of serving others.