Monday, April 26, 2010

Introverts in the church - pt. 6

Chapter 5 of Adam McHugh's book 'Introverts in the Church' is a good one, with lots of practical help for both introverts, and extroverts seeking to understand introverts. I will share of a couple of lists (minus the details - so you need to read the book), and then share my usual underlined items.

The chapter is on 'Introverted Community and Relationships.' This is a toughy for most of us introverts, because community and relationships can be difficult, but they are a vital part of the Christian faith. And, as he shares on p. 87, "Though I feel the universal human desire to know and be known, my knowing is more intellectual than emotional." And later... "So much of me wants to be lost in my grand ideas and reflections, away from the noise and urgency of other people, but I cannot escape the fact that growth invariably involves the messiness of genuine human contact and the struggles of intimacy."

With helpful insights about 'Participation and Belonging' (Myths of belonging, Belonging and personality, and the introverted spiral), he then shares some very helpful GIFTS THAT INTROVERTS HAVE TO OFFER:
  1. Compassion
  2. Insight
  3. Listening and giving space
  4. Creativity
  5. Loyalty
  6. Service
  7. Calming presence
After that he offers insights for the introvert - a few things we can do to help build relationships and increase our level of participation in the community:
  1. Make friends in high places
  2. Find mentors
  3. Play a role
  4. Join a group
  5. Socialize with a purpose
  6. Reveal your process
  7. Be available
  8. Ask questions
  9. Overexpress yourself
  10. Look for who is initiating with you
Some of my underlined highlights...
  • p. 93 - "...'no' is an indispensable word for introverts who need solitude and space to refuel and reflect. Without 'no' we are unable to fully engage with others and to exercise our gifts in our communities. Saying 'no' at times enables us to wholeheartedly say 'yes' at other times. When we say 'no' for good and important reasons, we are saying 'yes' to the God who has formed us as introverts."
  • p. 94 - "Too often churches ask introverts to change, rather than stretching their own understandings of participation." (I'm even guilty of doing this).
  • p. 96 (under the gift of Compassion) - "Henri Nouwen asserted that 'compassion is the fruit of solitude and the basis of all ministry.' He discovered the paradox that 'it is in solitude that this compassionate solidarity grows. In solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us, that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy, and envy are deeply anchored in our own heart.' The further we probe into the depths of our hearts, and the good and the bad that lies within, the further we are able to enter into the inner worlds of others. Introverts, therefore, are capable of powerful compassion and are often very effective therapists and counselors."
  • p. 98 (under 'Listening and giving space') - "Good listening can change the world. Listening itself communicates the value of the other person and his thoughts, so the act of listening is itself an act of love."
  • p. 101 - "Introverts often give off the appearance of calmness, while self-doubt and social anxiety rumbles around inside of us... Psychologist Marti Olsen Laney said that one of the most significant gifts introverts have to offer extroverts is that they 'help them slow down.'"
  • p. 104 (under 'socialize with a purpose') - "When it comes to conversational grace (grace as in dancing), many introverts have two left feet. Our need to think before we speak slows the pace of our repartee, and by the time we have a contribution to make, the conversation may have already moved on to the next topic. For some introverts, small talk is so uncomfortable that they consciously avoid social situations."
  • p. 104 (under 'socialize with a purpose') - "For some who are particularly tormented by unstructured social events, having a semiprepared script helps ease the stress of small talk. Do some research on the day's news. Think of the questions you like to be asked. Rehearse open-ended conversation starters or interesting responses to inevitable questions such as 'What do you do?'"
  • p. 106 - "Because introverts are typically good listeners and, at least, have the appearance of calmness, we are attractive to emotionally needy people."
  • p. 107 - "...it is true that many introverts are conflict avoidant and that we will retreat into ourselves when tension rises."
  • From the bottom of 109 and onto 110 is a good section on the benefits and dangers of technology and relationships. Why I prefer email and texting to phone calls and chats.
Again, this was a nice practical chapter. It is worth noting, though, that not all introverts are the same. Not everything applies to me, and just because these are highlights I picked out of this chapter doesn't mean they are perhaps the most applicable to you - if you are an introvert also. But this is my blog, and I basically use it for my own personal benefit, so... whatever. :)

Peace out; and in.