Over at his blog, Tim Challies has written a review or, as he calls it, a reflection on the contents of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. As an introvert myself, I was interested in his take on the book.
Pastor Challies writes that reading the book gave him fresh insights into his personality, but also gave him too good of an excuse for his own behavior:
Quiet allowed me to better understand myself. In some ways Cain introduced me to me. I had all kinds of those “Aha!” moments where things I’ve long thought or felt suddenly made sense. It was refreshing. Yet as I progressed through the book, I found it doing something unexpected deep inside. I began to feel a kind of peace with my introversion that may have gone a little too far. Even Aileen noticed it in me and pointed it out. She noticed that I began to feel justified in fleeing crowds and being by myself. She said I was becoming selfish.
In reflecting on being an introvert and also a Christian, Challies came to the conclusion that while his natural inclination is to retreat from crowds and to crave solitude, his calling as a believer means he must practice self-denial:
I believe that God made me introverted. It seems clear that some of us are naturally more outgoing while others are naturally inclined to be quiet. I am naturally quiet and this is part of God’s good design. Neither one is inherently wrong and neither one is intrinsically better than the other. But what Cain does not acknowledge, writing as she does from a secular perspective, is that we inhabit a world of sin where any trait or quality can be used for God-glorifying ends or for self-glorifying ends. Not only that, but God calls us to be always willing to deny our desires in order to serve others. Both introverts and extroverts will face particular temptations to sin. My temptation as an introvert is to run away from people instead of serve people. It is to be selfish instead of giving.
The Christian life is a life of self-denial. It is a life of saying, “Even though this may be what I want, duty compels me to do something different.” There are many times when I am to deny my own desires in order to serve others. Even the desire to be alone.
If you are also an introvert, or live with one, I recommend you read the whole article, and maybe the book too.
One thought on “The Christian Introvert”
I appreciate the general thrust behind Tim Challies’ reflection. The last time I visited a “Christian” bookstore, books I would call Christianized pop psychology- personality types, ectera, took up a lot of shelves. I fear we as Christians are becoming predisposed to, at least subconsciously, think “that’s just the way God made me”, and excuse our sins, whether they come out of strengths or weaknesses.