I was recently asked if I consider myself an introvert or an extrovert.
It seems a simple question that merits a simple answer, and the simple answer is that I consider myself an introvert until I've had a cup of coffee. But there is a deeper and more nuanced answer in what it actually means to be an introvert in the first place. The more I ponder it, the more complex and intricate that answer becomes, and it gets me thinking, which then leads to writing.
Which reminds me of how I tend to find ways to draw complex answers out of simple questions, simplify it once again after filtering it through a different lens, somehow turn it into a topic I end up writing about, and this process alone is a significant part of what lands me squarely in the introvert column.
In popular perception, the Introvert is portrayed as that strange kid standing alone at the dance, emerging only to sneak a drink from the punch bowl when no one is looking before walking awkwardly back to the corner, avoiding any eye contact along the way.
The Extrovert is the life of the party; the one that knows all the right people, says all the right things, and is the quintessential 'popular kid' that everyone wants to be.
But is this an accurate picture? And what does it have to do with Jesus?
Jesus spent significant parts of His time pouring into people. We must start with the fact that Jesus was the perfect man; God in human flesh. Still, we can examine His personality and His habits in order to learn more about who He was and what He was like as He walked this earth. When we look at the personality of Jesus from a human perspective, He was clearly more than comfortable in any kind of group situation: speaking to crowds of thousands, teaching and leading His small group of disciples, initiating tough one-on-one conversations, and even facing down the national leadership of His day. He was constantly engaged with people and I'm not really sure when he slept. All extrovert material, right?
Not so fast. There is no doubt that Jesus excelled at interacting with and leading people, more so than anyone who ever lived, but there is another side of Jesus that tells us how He recharges and gets His strength to go about all that extroverted stuff.
Some folks ask how an introvert such as myself can be a leader of people.
The answer is in how I recharge, prepare, and get energy to go about doing all that extrovert stuff. I crave the idea of spending time and engaging in conversations with all kinds of people, but the introvert in me likes to think about what I am going to say and how I am going to say it for a bit before I articulate any of those thoughts. I love discussing the big picture, but the introvert in me ponders the small brushstrokes that will be necessary to create that picture.
That introverted side of me is why I tend to be a better writer than a speaker (the same was said of the Apostle Paul, by the way, so I'm okay with that).
As a writer, I crave time alone with a coffee and a keyboard. But the payoff of writing is interacting with others who have read those words, and being able to share thoughts and engage in conversations.
As a musician, I crave time alone to write music. But the payoff is sharing those songs with others, and being able to listen and learn from other songwriters and musicians who add their own personality to music.
As a husband and father, I crave time alone to read a book, read the news, or read my Bible. But the payoff is investing, leading, and pouring into my family, and being able to create a legacy of faith and fun memories.
As a pastor, I crave time alone in prayer and in the Word. But the payoff is when speaking truth, mercy, and grace to the hurting, and being able to encourage others in my sphere of influence.
As an introvert, I am not afraid of people or annoyed by people (after coffee, remember. That's important...) and I am not the weird kid in the corner at the dance. At least not usually.
Being an introvert simply means I recharge through alone time. When I do that, I am okay to be around and have something significant to contribute to the conversation.
Below are some examples of how Jesus seemed to recharge through alone time before major events:
Before Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, the disciples had gone into town to buy food, and Jesus had been spending time alone: "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”(The disciples had gone into town to buy food)" John 4:7-8
Before Jesus fed the five thousand, He was alone and recharging: "He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." Matthew 14:13-14
Before He walked on the water, He was alone in prayer: "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." Matthew 14:22-25
After a run-in with the Pharisees, and before choosing His apostles the next morning, He spent time alone and in prayer: "But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles." Luke 6:11-13
On the most emotionally charged night of His life (or any life in history for that matter) He was once again seeking to be alone and in fervent prayer, with only the support of His closest friends (another introvert trait): "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Matthew 26:36-38
So was Jesus an introvert? The simple answer: in Jesus we find the best of every personality type! If you consider yourself an introvert, find joy in the fact that sometimes Jesus came across a bit of an introvert as well. As to the complex answer: A closer look reveals that few of us are fully introvert or fully extrovert, but to some degree are ambivert, or a mixture of both, so it stands to reason that the God who created us would also reveal Himself as the best of both. Whatever personality you consider yourself, it is a valuable lesson for all of us to take time to recharge, disconnect from the noise around us to engage in quiet and in prayer, refocusing our eyes on Jesus before facing whatever is ahead of us.
As a writer and musician, Jason Soroski strives to be mindful of the small things that we may otherwise overlook in our everyday lives. Jason holds an M.Ed. from Missouri Baptist University, and is the author of A Journey to Bethlehem: Inspiring Thoughts For Christmas and Hope for the New Year. Read more from Jason at his blog The Way I See It, and keep the conversation going on Twitter and Facebook!
Publication date: August 10, 2017
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