Russell and Duenes

Introverts Need Not Apply

with 3 comments

I’m not an introvert.

But I know a few of them, and they get a bum rap, especially in Christian circles.

Let’s think about this. When I was in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, we were told that “Jesus values people.” Of course he does. But what this translated into is: “You should be hanging out with people all the time.” The not-so-subtle message we got was, whenever there’s a choice between hanging out or doing something with people versus holing up in your room or studying, well, you should always choose doing things with people. A dorm room full of traffic was the best kind.

You see this in Christian ministry in general. Think of the adjectives we use to describe extroverts: Outgoing, people-oriented, warm, peppy, energetic or “relational.” These are the people who are usually identified as leader material. But introverts may have to apologize for their introversion with excuses like, “Sorry I’m not feeling very social tonight,” or “I’m not trying to be anti-social or anything,” and the like. It’s probably a rare thing for an extrovert to be confronted over their extroversion: “You know, you’re spending too much time with people,” or “You know, you may be trying to cover over your spiritual insecurities and weaknesses by hanging out and doing ministry.” But what of the introvert? “Maybe you’re just fearful of people.” “People are more important than your own pursuits.” We look at Jesus and Paul and we think that they were spending almost all of their waking hours with people; total extroverts, right? And of course, our peppy, chipper, “get out there and get to it” American culture confirms our notions.

But this seems like a “one size fits all” paradigm for the Christian life and ministry. It seems to infer that everyone whose heart has been captured by Jesus should always be interruptible and willing to drop everything and be with people (except for “quiet times”). Further, it implies that Jesus wants to overcome a person’s introversion and make them all “people persons” in a rather similar manner. And it brings a burden of guilt upon introverts, and a sense that they will always be spiritually inferior to their more “relational” brethren, unless they can overcome their reticence to always be social, with God’s help of course.

I think we need to re-think it.



Written by Michael Duenes

May 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

3 Responses

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  1. Amen


    May 22, 2010 at 7:52 am

  2. Have you heard of InterVarsity Press’s “Introverts in the Church”? It’s basically what you’re saying except a whole beautiful book on it. I loved it. So eye opening.


    May 22, 2010 at 9:59 am

  3. I can definitely relate to this as a Christian and an introvert. I often feel very guilty that I’m not around people all the time like many extroverts are. But I’ve been learning to accept myself and trying to take away the guilt and of course, giving in a way that works for my personality.


    May 22, 2010 at 11:12 am

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