the weblog of Alan Knox

Introverts, Extraverts, and Community in Christ

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in community | 4 comments

Yesterday, Dan from “Cerulean Sanctum” left an excellent question/statement/comment on my post “He invites us to live side by side as a family.” Because of his comment, I’ve been thinking alot about introverts and extraverts as part of community in Christ. (Please read Dan’s whole comment, because he brings up several other excellent points.)

In my post, I pointed out that the deep friendships that make up community in Christ do not happen overnight, especially among people who are not accustomed to those kinds of friendships. Of course, because the Spirit dwells in each of us, there is an immediate connection. However, it takes time to develop the kind of familiarity and trust necessary for community. (By the way, I think that any healthy community will actually have different people with different levels of relationships with one another. But, those relationships will be growing.)

So, what does this have to do with extraverts and introverts? Well, first, let’s admit that there are very few pure extraverts or pure introverts. Everyone is somewhere on the continuum between being a pure extravert and a pure introvert. And, in different situations, some people are extraverted or more introverted or vice versa. But, for the sake of this post, let’s consider people either introverts or extraverts.

For both introverts and extraverts, there are strengths and weaknesses related to community.

For example, extraverts typically meet people easily. They quickly come to know a little about a lot of people. They can have a tremendous number of acquaintances. But, extraverts often struggle at deeper relationships.

Introverts, on the other hand, struggle meeting people initially. They may not have very many acquaintances at all. But, for those people they do meet, they tend to relate to a few more deeply quicker.

If you’ve followed along so far, you may recognize something: extraverts and introverts need each other. (Of course, that should be pretty obvious, since God created us to need and rely on one another.)

So, why do extraverts and introverts have such a hard time getting along many times? Well, the same reason we have a hard time getting along with anyone. We focus on ourselves, our needs, our desires, and our personalities instead of focusing on the other person(s).

Extraverts won’t get to know introverts by forcing them to act like extraverts. Introverts won’t develop deep relationships with extraverts by forcing them to be introverted.

If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s the basis of our relationships with one another in Jesus Christ and the basis of our service to others in Jesus’ name. This passage probably says it about as good as any:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:1-5 ESV)

How can extraverts and introverts relate to one another as community in Jesus Christ? By caring more about the other person(s) than themselves. How can they do that? By having the mind of Christ – a mind that pushes them away from their own rights and toward a life of serving others.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-3-2013

    Hi Allen,

    A # of ways that extroverts & introverts can help each other, that I have seen in action in community are: (1)that the extroverts, who tend to talk a lot, can be constantly looking for queues that the introverts display in a gathering, that they have something to share and interrupting themselves to encourage them to share what they have on their hearts. Generally in a gathering, I as an extrovert, will come with at least 3-4 things on my heart/brain to share & so can frequently tend to dominate a gathering. But I am finding that if I look for those queues from the less out there brother & sisters I am greatly encouraged & built up by what they have to share. When I am new to a gathering I know I tend to hold my peace But if someone draws me out it gives me boldness to share what is on my heart. (2) For the introvert they can choose to overcome their tendency to hold back remembering that the things on their heart that Christ has in them are supper important to the functioning of His body. If they hold back the Body will end up limping along at greatly reduced capacity. Both the introvert & the extrovert need each others gifts.

    David H. Lucas
    Merritt Island, FL

  2. 5-3-2013

    We were just discussing this the other day. It seems that these differences can fuel frustration when the extroverts fill every pause and introverts just sit back and judge/fume/become apathetic. However these differences when taken as an opportunity to see and extend Jesus in and toward one another can be transformative moments for everyone. In order to see the opportunity we must heed the wisdom of your words:

    “How can extroverts and introverts relate to one another as community in Jesus Christ? By caring more about the other person(s) than themselves.”

  3. 5-3-2013

    yes! by caring more about the other than themselves. and when there is a group when there is only 1 or 2 doing that… it is very evident. but the only thing we can do when that happens is to love & pray. we can’t make people care or love. love & respect is not something we can take, it must be given.

    which takes such time & effort – to build trust – to be able to be honest with each other about how we are feeling and be able to focus on others’ needs more than our own.

    it’s amazing to me how learning to communicate is so difficult and takes such effort. yet if we can really learn to use words to be honest about what’s on our hearts…. such simple steps to explanation can breakthrough such amazing misunderstandings!!

    Ever since the tower of Babel I guess – we speak different languages. What is a painfully awkward silence for one is a beautiful reflective moment of unity for another. What is a moment of silent reflection and processing for one can be seen as a disrespectful lack of response to another. What is an outpouring of the heart, trying to be vulnerable and share… can look like too many words and meaningless chatter to another.

    Yet if we are focused on the heart of the others and trying to see from their perspective…. we can look for ways to both validate words and understand silence. We can look for ways to draw out hearts through probing questions. We can look to see what the heart is going through behind the words & behind the silence. The underlying message.

    It’s important to know our own tendencies/weaknesses.

    And final thought…

    it’s a fine line between caring about others… and caring what others think (people pleasing)….

    a fine line between trying to see from other’s perspectives….. and judging/assuming other’s perspectives without hearing it from them.

  4. 5-5-2013

    I really love the examples here. Thank you!