As part of the fulfilment of the church theme of “Reaching Out, Transforming Lives”, the bulletin reflection on the second Sunday of the month will feature special articles on outreach and evangelism.
Are Introverts Better Evangelists?
By Mike Schumann from Desiring God website (www.desiringgod.org)
We introverts are prone to feel like evangelism is really just for extroverts. When Jesus commissions us to preach his good news, who’s naturally more excited to do it: those who are rejuvenated by crowds and conversations or those who’d rather recharge with a book and a quiet room? If you’re a fellow introvert, a quiet-room dweller like me, perhaps you’ve thought this way before. You may have even concluded that since God made you an introvert, he’s probably not expecting you to evangelize. After all, it’s not your gifting, right? Well, you’re right and wrong. Claiming that something important is not your gift, however, is a perfectly disastrous plan for skirting responsibility. If you don’t believe me, try it out on your spouse or roommate next time you’re asked to do the dishes. Beyond yielding a poor track record amongst spouses and roommates, what else makes this excuse so lame? Well, for one, it flies in the face of the clear words of Christ, and that ought to be reason enough for any of us to cough up this cop-out to the Great Commission.
In Matthew 28, Jesus does not say, “Extroverts, disciple the nations.” In fact, Jesus neglects to say anything to his disciples regarding their personalities. Instead, Jesus claims that the reason they can and should share the gospel is because “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). It’s not about the disciples, but about the power and authority of Christ. He expects all of his followers to share his story not because it is our specific gifting, but because it is our shared calling, given to us from, and empowered by, Christ himself.
Why God Calls Introverts to Share
But if this is so, why wouldn’t God have made us all extroverts? Wouldn’t it have worked out a whole lot better if the people charged with the task to go out and talk with others naturally wanted to talk with other people more often? Certainly he could have done it that way, so why did God choose to call introverts, along with extroverts, to engage in this global cause?
1. To Show Us His Greatness
Perhaps one reason God called introverts to evangelism is so they can be a living example of the gospel’s surpassing greatness. After all, most of us know that introverts are naturally inclined to spend time alone or avoid large crowds of people. Therefore, when we witness introverts going out of their way to meet new people or invite others into their home, it demonstrates to us that the gospel is much more precious to them than their own comforts. Picture the most introverted person you know, and imagine them sharing the gospel out on a street corner — or maybe even harder, with a coworker, neighbor, or family member. You know this would be difficult for them. Because of this, you would listen all the more intently, knowing that the message being spoken must be special if it’s prompting even that person to step out and share it with others.
2. To Grow and Mature Us
God has called introverts to evangelize because it is a means of growing in sanctification. Choosing to die to one’s preferences in order to obey God is a mark of a maturing believer. And dying is exactly how an introvert can feel after a long period of being around people. The temptation for introverts, therefore, is to find loopholes in the system, such as claiming that evangelism involves “preaching the gospel and using words when necessary.” But is this really what Jesus means when he says, “proclaim the gospel” (Mark 16:15) and “[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20)? No, the hard truth is that Jesus means exactly what his words suggest, that we are to devote our lives to sharing the good news of our risen Savior with others — and yes, that means using words. Therefore, introverts have to actively fight the temptation to balk at the call to evangelize, and this fighting is a major part of our sanctification.
3. To Reap a Harvest of Joy
God has called introverts to evangelize because it reaps a reward of joy that far surpasses any comforts received through social detachment. As an example, consider the 72 whom Jesus sent out to preach as lambs amongst wolves (Luke 10:3). This doesn’t sound like a venture that many of us would volunteer for. However, these same 72 came back later in a joy so great that they could hardly hold back from proclaiming the thrill of their evangelistic efforts (Luke 10:17). In fact, they were rejoicing so much that Jesus had to warn them not to let their great excitement overshadow the value of their own salvation.
4. To Make Good on His Design
God has called introverts to evangelize because he equipped us for it. Yes, God has blessed all believers with the Holy Spirit, who equips us for bold and effective ministry. This is a great truth for introverts and extroverts alike. Being the channel to communicate the most important message in the world is not about us, not about our personalities and preferences, but about the authority of Jesus and the power of his Spirit.
Four Ways Introverts Are Equipped
Introverts are as called to evangelism as anyone. In fact, God may have equipped us introverts for evangelism in a unique and unusual way. First, introverts naturally gravitate toward one-on-one interaction, rather than large-group conversation. While large-group conversations are certainly helpful, one on one typically allows for deeper listening and sharing. Second, introverts often prefer listening and internal processing over speaking and verbal processing. This can greatly bless those who feel a need to be heard, known, and understood before seriously considering another person’s viewpoint (which, in this case, would be the gospel). Third, introverts tend to develop deeper relationships with fewer people. The level of intimacy in these relationships has potential to foster an atmosphere in which the gospel can be more effectively shared with genuine love, sincerity, and trust. Fourth and finally, introverts enjoy spending time alone, especially after a long conversation, and what better thing to do while alone than to pray for the person with whom you just shared the gospel? We might even go so far as to say that God designed introverts to be even better vessels for the gospel.
From One Introvert to Another
For introverts and extroverts alike, love can inspire us to do difficult things. Whether that means an introvert going to meet with groups of people, or an extrovert leaving a crowd to spend time alone interceding for others, both are actions motivated by a love that surpasses a desire for comfort. Together, whatever our personalities or preferences, we revel in the ultimate act of love, the sacrifice of Jesus, who forsook his own comfort for our eternal comfort and joy. And we step out in faith to declare that love to others.