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Introverts vs. Extroverts

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Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

 

The Myers Briggs Personality Profile has been out for over three decades. Your four letters describes your personality. The first Letter is either “I” or “E” for Introvert or Extrovert. In the life of the church, these two letters have often been at odds with each other, and have sometimes been unsympathetic. Even the way we do worship is affected by the Introvert/Extrovert phenomena.

 

About four or five years ago, our order of worship changed, with the inclusion of a Passing of the Peace. When I came to Westminster almost eight years ago, one of the first changes people requested was the inclusion of the Passing of the Peace in worship. Those making the request were all Extroverts. They gave their examples of how greeting each other would make us a friendlier, warmer congregation.

 

Funnily, the Introverts were too quiet to defend themselves. The Extroverts couldn’t begin to empathize with the discomfort greeting each other would engender. A number of Introverts would feel uncomfortable with making small talk, by saying “The Peace of God be with you,” or some other quick response. Shaking hands feels like an intrusion to the more Introverted, or God forbid a touchy-feely Extrovert who tries to place a hug on some nice, unsuspecting Introvert. I served a church where the Introverts had informally gravitated to the balcony, and did not greet one another during the Passing of the Peace. Introverts found a way.

 

The key is recognizing that we are not all the same. What is natural for one person, can be uncomfortable for another person. Today, spend some time noticing how other people carry themselves. The more we do so, the more sensitive to the level of openness each person feels. Pray that you can find a way to be a gracious person, who makes other people feel comfortable and respected.

 

I share this because I am an Extrovert, and a hyper one at that, and often I am not sensitive enough to the comfort level of those around me. When I remember to be mindful of the Introvert, I seem to make other people feel more comfortable. Jesus had a way of relating to many different people. That is our goal as well. It takes mindfulness. For the Introvert, it may require you to stretch your comfort level enough to warmly greet an Extrovert. The Introvert might even be filled with the Holy Spirit and give an Extrovert a hug, and make their day. Trying to make the other comfortable is a special way of passing the peace.