There have been times in my life when I felt insecure because of my introverted personality. I’ve been in environments which made me feel less-than because I’m not the most gregarious person in the room.
One such instance took place in my college cafeteria. I happened to be sitting near one of the most outgoing individuals on campus. He asked me several questions about my personality which felt more like an interrogation than mere curiosity. He continued to probe, asking me, “Why are you so quiet?” I had reached my limit and took him by surprise when I retorted, “Why are you so loud?”
Introversion has been getting some good PR as of late, and I’m thankful. I’ve felt validated as I’ve perused articles and watched videos expounding on the unique contributions introverts can bring to personal and professional settings. I’m worried, however, that the pendulum might be swinging from overvaluing extroversion at the expense of introverts to making the same mistake to the detriment of the more outgoing. I’m convinced that no personality type or temperament is superior to the rest. Furthermore, while I believe labels can be helpful, an individual is more than the sum of his or her labels.
When I was making final preparations for my student teaching, I took a class on effective classroom methods. In our final few sessions together, the professor counted down the top ten most valuable methods for teaching the Bible. Videos, real-life stories, and pictures were among the listed items. I waited in anticipation for number one. What is the most effective way to communicate the truth of the Bible to students, I wondered.
Dr. Cooper advanced to the final slide, and the most valuable method appeared on the screen: YOU. She explained that our greatest tool in the classroom was not what we would bring but who we were. Videos can help illustrate a point. Pictures aid in visualizing important places and events. But the Bible would be most compelling to students when they could see how it was influencing me personally. Dr. Cooper called this asset “your own redeemed personality.”
I’ve never forgotten the words. They sustained me through student teaching and have encouraged me ever since. Who I am as God continues His work in my life is not divorced from how God chooses to use me.
My personality is not an accident. Neither is yours. We were made by God on purpose and for a purpose. He will stretch us beyond our comfort zones, of course, but the way He wired you was intentional, and it is a gift to your particular sphere of influence.
Maybe you prefer to spend your free time alone. Maybe you’re the life of the party. Either way, persuade those around you to know, love, and follow Jesus according to His Word. And if you’re wondering how to go about it, I’d be willing to bet your own redeemed personality will be the most effective way.