what’s it like to be an introverted woman in church circles?

Today I’m happy to have Adam McHugh join us here. He is the author of Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. He is also a Presbyterian pastor, spiritual director, and a hospice chaplain. And he is a better public speaker than you might expect. He is writing a second book called The Listening Life (a book we’ll have to wait until 2013 to read). You can follow him on Twitter and on his blog Introverted Church. I’m honored to serve as the hostess for Adam’s official last guest post on introversion, ever. Take it away, Adam.

I have been talking about introversion and church for so long that I have developed what I call my “introvert stump speech.” Here’s how it kicks off:

Let me paint you a picture of someone who might be held up as the very model of faith in many Christian communities. Imagine a person who is highly social and gregarious, someone with an overt passion, who finds it easy to share her faith with strangers, who is expressive and enthusiastic and transparent, someone who participates in a wide variety of activities, who knows tons of people, who eagerly invites people into her space, who quickly assumes leadership responsibilities, and who wears her faith on her sleeve.

Such a person would be highly praised in most churches, right? Churches would have a bidding war over her. If we met someone like that, we might be inclined to say that she is the epitome of faithfulness, that she really understands what it means to follow Jesus. And it is likely true that you would be describing a beautifully faithful person; however, you would also be describing a very extroverted person.

I chose the female pronoun “she” in that talk in order to be inclusive, but as I think about it, the gender issue raises another question for me. Is introversion and extroversion perceived differently among women than it is among men? I have been talking for several years about the “extrovert ideal” that pervades much of our broader culture, but I wonder if it is an even more acute issue for introverted women than for introverted men?

There is a type of introverted man in our society who is still heralded: the strong, silent type. Perhaps he is more common in older generations, but he still shows up among younger men that I know too. He keeps his emotions and his opinions close to the vest, yet he is perceived as a strong and influential leader. He is rugged, individualistic, thoughtful, a good provider, his own man, a little mysterious – just enough so that women think they can change him. He is a rock in stormy seas. But enough about me.

As far as I know, there is no female equivalent to the strong, silent man. I’m wading into uncertain waters here, but my sense is that a woman who is quiet, less forthcoming about her emotions and inner world, and less eager to participate will be perceived as standoffish or stuck up. If you’re the mother of a pre-schooler and you’re not sure whether you want to join MOPS because of inevitable social exhaustion that will ensue, then you’re in danger of becoming a pariah.

To be honest, I am constantly amazed at the social capacities that women have. Last weekend my wife graduated with her MBA, and I played the role of the proud husband, following her around at the reception and meeting all her friends. I witnessed a 25 minute conversation between my wife and one of her good friends, in which they discussed life, relationships, pets, books, interior design, families, food, and the future.

At the end of this conversation, my wife’s friend said, “Well, we should have dinner soon and catch up.” WHAT?? You’ve covered more topics in this conversation that I have ever discussed with my friends, in all our cumulative conversations since college, and you don’t feel like you’re caught up? If I talked about that much with one of my friends, it’s possible we would not feel a need to talk again, ever.

But such is the wild and wonderful world of female social dynamics. From my outsider perspective, it seems like an incredibly extroverted world, and I have to wonder what it’s like to be an introvert in such a relational culture. So, Emily’s readers, fill me in. What is it like to be an introverted woman in church circles, PTA circles, and any other social circles you participate in?  

We would love to hear your thoughts on that. As a thank you for adding your voice to the conversation, Adam has a couple of copies of his book to giveaway to  a few commenters. I am reading Introverts in the Church slowly and am about half-way through. He did an excellent job with it and it’s not one to rush through. We’ll notify the winners Monday, June 11.

Comments

  1. mary says

    I am often an introvert- 3-5 folks are my crowd comfort zone. to be in a social circle can be challenging. how to break in? what to say? i have many thoughts but i do not quickly and easily share them. I find that at times I long to be the easy to speak loud person, yet i am not wired that way. Yet, i have found that because i am slow to speak, that when i do speak I am often heard and my words have weight that they might not otherwise. I listen, i pay attention to details of lives and people and i recall them and in doing so I am able to bless others with words of encouragement and love in smaller conversations, for that is where i am comfortable and that is where some walls come down that will not in large gatherings.

  2. Linda says

    This is an ongoing struggle for me, especially as my husband wil be a pastor in a few years. I just ordered your book…

  3. says

    I am the only extrovert living in a home of three introverts. You might say I have been a student of introverts since the day I said, “I do.” I often have to run after my family to the car after church or sometimes they have pulled it up to the door to wait for me to stop talking. I used to think something was wrong with them or that I was an alien in my own family. It’s been so freeing to understand its the way God made them and when I understood the differences our communication and understanding became so much better. Would love to read this to get more understanding.

  4. says

    For me, it feels like I wear my extroverted costume to church or to other organizational/social functions then can’t wait to get home and take it off. I think that most of the people in my life have no idea how much of a costume that personality really is. I’d love to win one of the copies!

    • GinaLou says

      Laura, I feel that way too. Sometimes I can’t find that costume. Sometimes I can’t muster up whatever it is that puts that costume on.

    • says

      Laura! You are so right. I’m an introverted pastor’s wife and I’m comfortable speaking, and meeting, and socializing but when I get home I need my alone time to refuel.
      Eyvonne´s last blog post ..The Great Divide

    • says

      You hit the nail on the head. That costume is a burden that makes me feel fake and that people don’t really know the real ME, which brings about a sense of guilt that I’m not being genuine.

      And when the friend you’ve just chatted with says, “Let’s meet to catch up?” I THINK, “Oh, dear! What are we going to talk about?”

      • says

        The burden of wearing the extroverted costume is so overwhelming most of the time. Since I’m a single mama I need the connections and relationships and a place to air out but find it more exhausting than helpful. I’m constantly searching for the happy medium. I waiver always between extremes of loneliness and social exhaustion. Somewhere in the tension, in the middle, Is Jesus luring me in. ‘come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.’

        • says

          And I forgot to mention the ‘ditto’ to Shannon about feeling fake and less than genuine… I often find myself being reactive in social situations and wonder where in the world THAT came from…and feel silly…and foolish…and lacking self control… And wonder where I really fit.
          Nikki´s last blog post ..Does Anybody Hear Her? [a Project]

          • CK says

            Nikki, I so often feel in social situations that I lose all self-control, becoming wierdly extroverted and saying things I’d not normally say, just to say *something*. I totally get the “who is this person and where did she come from?!” feeling, and then I’m ashamed for not being the genuinely gentle, thoughtful person that God made me to be … Thank you all for these supportive notes you’ve shared!

      • says

        I agree with you, Shannon, and Nikki too. With two small kids and a community that is wonderful about selfless giving and practical help, I feel overwhelmed most of the time and just dream of being alone for a whole day. Our eighth wedding anniversary was last weekend, and I was wishing my husband had been okay with us just holing up in a hotel room all weekend instead of the wonderful weekend he’d planned. I’m afraid I’ll be seen as selfish if I don’t go to all the showers and parties and play dates and Bible studies, etc. And I suppose it would be selfish of me not to – we must all continually die to self in our own ways and trust that God will give us His life.
        Danielle´s last blog post ..Her First Bike

        • Amy says

          I just recently heard a new (to me) view on the idea of dying to self. It said we need to die to the false/fake self that so many of us live in. We need to shed that costume, that false self and allow the authentic self that God created to emerge.

        • says

          What does love demand? That we go to every shower or candle party? I don’t think so. Over the decades, learning to be a disciple and wanting to be a loving person, I have asked God many times, “What do YOU want of me, God? Is it You who expect me to show up at all of these draining events, and end up emotionally and physically depleted and less able to meet my true obligations of love?” I never heard an audible answer, but obviously the answer was in my prayer. I think we introverts have to put up with being misunderstood, in order to be ourselves. There are some people who are longing to be loved by people such as we are, but if we nearly always have our costume on, they won’t find us. I think it must rarely be an act of true selfishness to stay away from a party, if God has not made you a “party person.”

      • Phoebe says

        Yes! Until just now, I never thought about how other introverts might also understand that trying to be outgoing internalized as feeling fake. But that’s exactly how I feel. And so, I have grown to dislike small talk over the years.

        Often, it’s a fine line between being polite and feeling fake for me.

    • VHiggins says

      Amen sister! I didn’t even realize how much social situations exhausted me until I met and started dating my now husband how is definitely an introvert. I started staying at home more, saying no to functions when I was exhausted, and I realized that I felt so much happier and had more energy when I had a decent amount of social down-time. I think most people would peg me as extroverted but that’s only because I’ve been playing the part for as long as I can remember. It’s hard feeling like no one actually *sees* me, not my extroverted role.

      • says

        My mother just realized I am an introvert. I am 24, an only child, and have always been fiercely protective of my down time.

        When I was a teen I remember her constantly pushing me to be more out going, to join in more often. I dreaded being told to “go dance with everyone else” at an event or “go talk to those girls” at a family party. But I also crave deep meaningful friendships which require time, communication, and effort. So I found myself in a role as “social coordinator” amoung my friends. I role I still hold to this day.

        I think it’s hard to be an introvert in an extrovert’s world.
        Kasey M.´s last blog post ..Giving Up on Good

        • Betsy says

          Just wondering if you have found that the extroverts have filled their ‘dance cards’ with other extroverts (and are satisfied with the fast dance) so they don’t have time or interest in a ‘slower dance’ ?

          • Linda says

            Yes! I was just mourning today the friendships that have fizzled out because I could not maintain the required level contact for the other person to feel connected. I have a lot of thoughts in my head but when it comes to making conversation, it can often feel painfully awkward to express those thoughts. It takes me a long time to feel comfortable with people to actually speak what’s in my head without feeling incredibly self-conscious. It takes a very persistent and patient individual to wait me out. Sadly, I haven’t found anyone of the girlfriend variety that has the time or inclination.
            I think what is odd is that I have a job that I actually love that requires me to interact with lots of people on a consistent basis. I believe the reason why it works is because it is fast moving and all my interactions are mercifully short so I don’t have to fill unmeasurable swaths of time with chitchat that I agonize to come up with. I long for and both dread getting more connected with these people because I deeply care about them but don’t know how to spend time with them that will not be punctuated by awkward sentences hanging in dead air and downcast eyes as I try to think of something, anything to say that would keep the conversation moving. I suppose the agony is mine because I assume it is completely my responsibility that the conversation goes well. At least that’s what the perfect me in my head thinks. It is absolutely not ok to not know how to talk to people which gives me more stage fright when I do talk to people.

    • lynda says

      I am right there. And the self-directed guilt is there, too. That to be a good friend/witness/group member/CHRISTIAN, is to be an extrovert.

    • says

      Interesting – I never thought of it as a costume but that’s exactly it. In my younger years, I avoided women’s retreats because we always shared rooms. I didn’t MIND the sharing-a-room part but it meant I had to be ON all the time, believing that I couldn’t take the costume off (without looking like a snob) until I got home, at which point I was exhausted. I wonder how many Closet Introverts I shared a room with, each of us thinking we needed to be social with the others!
      Susan´s last blog post ..This week, brought to you by. . .

      • Suzie says

        Oh my goodness…exactly. I never go on the women’s retreats for this reason. At the end of the day I just NEED my own space and privacy to decompress and think but…heaven forbid you tell them you will gladly pay for your own room. You end up looking like a snob or antisocial or weird. Apparently, it isn’t acceptable or Christian to need time to yourself or personal privacy on what is supposed to be a relaxing “retreat” away from the stress of your family. I just don’t go and then I am harangued about going endlessly by the group organizers. I can’t win.

        • Sharon says

          I hope you can learn to just say, “No, thank you” when these group organizers harangue you. You don’t owe anyone an explanation – they wouldn’t understand or believe your true explanation anyway – and you don’t want to lie. Just keep faithfully and courteously saying, “No, thank you – but thanks for inviting me. I hope you all have a wonderful time.”

      • Linda says

        I just blew off a women’s retreat that I was strongly exhorted to attend. I just couldn’t muster the strength to hold up my extroverted mask through a weekend that I fiercely consider my time off. I dreaded being “on” for that long when I desperately wanted some time to myself.

      • Sharon says

        I’m not sure it’s a “costume.” I’m an introvert who everyone thinks is an extrovert – because in social settings I am attentive, can add to the conversation, and enjoy myself – to an extent. Introverts are not socially inept. We have the capacity and ability to be social – it’s just not something we crave or need a lot of like extroverts do. I enjoy the talks at a women’s retreat and enjoy some of the social interaction (which everyone needs from time to time) – but I agree, rooming with a stranger is stressful! Get your own room and just let people say what they’ll say. Extroverts do not understand the idea that “I don’t care to be paired up with someone I don’t know. It’s stressful for me.” Extroverts think it’s really lots of fun to meet new people all the time and be herded in crowds – it’s just fun for them. We introverts don’t understand that either. So try to just be yourself if you really want to go to the retreat and help those folks learn a little about someone who is different from them.

  5. says

    What’s it like? It’s exhausting. And I think it’s even more difficult for a single woman. We have no one to “hide behind”, no one to stand by us in the awkward social situations. We have to forge our own way through the church dinners and the after-worship meet and greet time. I read your book recently. Thanks for putting into words what has been my gut feeling all along!

    • Sarah Luttman says

      Agreed. My church values participation, which they equate to attending events, joining the softball team, and weekly Bible studies in people’s homes. For a relatively new member, an introvert, and single to boot, the idea of this is incredibly overwhelming! It would be far more effective to engage introverts in a small group or one-on-one setting, and not one that requires attending lots of large group events with strangers.

  6. says

    How does it feel? If only I could hand you my ballerina flats and let you prance around in them for a day, or two…or three.

    Recently, intentional choosing to step down from worship leader (all up in your face, extroverted and in the public eye of the congregation) to … well … a blogger who blogs from home (for her own personal blog and “ministry” ) and writes cards to encourage members in my church…I feel, at times, like a bit of a let down. What I’m doing is quiet, small. And sometimes that has the feeling of ineffectiveness. Whether I feel that just from myself, or from the look on people’s faces when I explain what I am doing. And why.

    It’s been about four months since I stepped down – and I must say the guilt and the fears of resentment and disappointment have mostly faded away (well, not faded, but I’ve worked through them…)….but still, there I times when I struggle to be okay with the way that God has made me.

    I never thought that it was okay to not have something to say in a church meeting (only to find out that later on…thoughts and opinions and convictions would come flooding at my door, all to be released in the written, not spoken).

    I never thought that it was okay to be reserved in what I engage myself in. I mean, I LOVE TALKING and catching up with women and people…asking, sincerely, how people are doing and the like. But at the same time, there has always been a part and a side of me that has held off…a part that has and still remains private. I always end up thinking…is this wrong? To refrain like this?

    And the trouble for me starts when I feel as though more is required from me. More insight, more energy, more hoopla, even. Because, when I don’t “deliver” then it just seems as if I’m indifferent. Without a voice…or so wrapped up in fear that I dare not speak my voice. But that’s not the case!

    With me, God is working behind the scenes. In the deep crevices of my heart – He is speaking, illuminating, growing me…challenging me. And I can finally now believe the Word when I read that “I am His craftsmanship” or that “He knows my rising and my going to bed…and formed me in my mother’s womb!” He made me, just the way I am…He knows the pathways of my brain and heart. And He delights in it, too!

    And what’s even better…is I can rely on Him…His Holy Spirit…to show me when I am in fact operating out of fear and cowardice. Haha. I know that, at any given and appointed time, His will overrides my “personality.” When I am called to go, or do something beyond my comfort zone. I do it. I go. Knowing that He gives me everything I have need of.

    So being an introverted woman in the church? It’s scary at times, intimidating…and hurtful. But man oh man, is it exciting :) To shock people, to shock even your own self ;) That there’s actually something going on in this head and heart of mine. I am, in fact, no air head :) !!! <3
    Rae´s last blog post ..in which i explain the importance of chocolate.

    • Michelle says

      “And the trouble for me starts when I feel as though more is required from me.”

      Ditto. I have traced that feeling back to a compulsion to compensate – for whatever gap is the gorilla in the room, the missing piece of the puzzle. So much of my chatter was an effort to fill a void I did not create and could not – cannot – fill.

      Honoring my introversion has gone hand in hand with peeling the layers of that compulsion to compensate.

      I sit with my own noise rather than try to quiet the noise of another. I’m saying “no” with clarity, and hearing “yes” more often.

      I still feel anxiety – that sense that everything that is important needs to be handled instantaneously. It’s easier to get a grip with that, even to sit with what I don’t have done that I wish, was. My subconscious is sorting out the priorities; meanwhile disaster does not unfold. It’s been an interesting, worthwhile, and at turns uncomfortable and rewarding, experience.

    • Emily says

      Rae,
      What a breath of fresh air your coment was to me! I have been struggling for awhile now with my place in ministry and thinking something was really wrong with me. I too have been wearing the “extroverted costume,” pretty much everywhere I go because I have been been under the illusion that is what I had to be in order to be an effective minister, mom, wife, daughter, anything. I get the impression that folks, by no fault of their own, don’t really relate as well to those of us who are introverted. I have worked on the extrovert “act” for many years in my life and I am simply just tired. It is so refreshing to hear that you are not alone, and it is okay to feel this way. It makes so much sense now. Finally, I too am a worship leader. Have been off and on for many years in my life, but I have had this strong desire to step down, but out of fear of rejection, guilt and being misunderstood I have refrained. Not really sure what my role would be or even look like if I were to do that. But, I do love and trust the Lord, and certainly desire to serve Him.

      • says

        WOW Emily – seriously, keep in touch and let me know how everything goes for you. Man, you nailed it…those fears of rejection and being misunderstood from stepping down from worship leading. I can’t tell you how many people thought I was pregnant or in trouble (I’m unmarried)…but God is with you, and He knows you. So continue to trust Him because His will IS perfect…and good.

  7. kelly says

    I am extra – extroverted, and am often praised for it at church, when I think that the folks with quiet strong faith are ‘better’ examples. I feel that keeping my mouth shut and listening would be the true mark of faithfulness.

    My husband is very introverted, but most people are ok with him having a ‘quiet, supportive’ role at church – but I want to ensure that he doesn’t feel secondary to me. I make sure that my husband has opportunities to serve and to contribute in the quiet ways he was made to do – on church committees, service projects, and tech support – so that everyone knows that while I’m talking my faith, he’s doing it.

    One of my friends at church is a female introvert, and people have a much harder time letting her quietly serve her faith – they are constantly asking her to be more ‘chatty’, like I am, which I think is a shame. She has so much to share, quietly.

    • says

      Really identified with this, Kelly.

      I have often wished I was more introverted, since my extroversion can throw my quieter husband into the shade. In that way, I think introverted women have it easier. At least they are not perceived as being “Jezebels” . . .

      Thanks for adding your two cents. Looks like we share more than a name. :)
      kelli´s last blog post ..To the Mother in the Mirror

  8. Tiffani says

    That is a loaded question! And it’s complicated by many things including the fact that I’m a homeschooling mother of three, so my “social reserves” are often running on low before we go to any gatherings.

    While they are many positive aspects to be introverted, there are also significant downsides such as leaving a gathering exhausted, never knowing what it feels like to be the life of the party, wondering why some women seem to be able to accomplish so much and serve in so many ways, etc. It’s wishing to do so much more to reach out to others, but feeling drained by it at the same time.

  9. Karen says

    I tend to listen more than I speak, especially around those who I’ve only just met or don’t know very well. I’m also quite smart, plus I’m 6’1″, so I’m often interpreted – by those I’ve just me or don’t know very well – as arrogant. I think that’s how the female version of the strong silent type man is perceived – because women are meant to be friendly, and if you’re not friendly enough, you must be arrogant.. standoffish.. stuck up.. I think you’re on the right track there.

    And about your wife’s wanting to have dinner to catch up after the 25 minute catch up conversation – dinner isn’t really about catching up. You’re right, they’ve done all of the catching up on the details, there isn’t the need to share any further information. Dinner is about continuing the feeling of connection that started in the chat. The chat reminds us of the enjoyment we get from connection, and dinner/coffee/play date/whatever is a good way to prolong that encounter. To use a bit of a laboured metaphor, some things in life can be taught, others are caught – and often what’s caught is more important. The words are where things are taught, but it’s the non-verbal catching that a woman means when she says she wants to catch up even after all the words are used up.

    • says

      Karen, your comment resonates a lot with me. I am also tall (5’11″), smart, and often quiet in groups of people. And time after time, I have been misinterpreted as arrogant. It’s hard to blend quietly into a crowd as a taller woman! So I find that I force myself to be extra friendly to everyone else, and it is exhausting.
      Marcia´s last blog post ..some thoughts on middle faith

      • Kristine says

        Me too! You girls are right on. I am also tall and introverted, so when I am in social situations I am very aware to smile, nod, and try and talk a lot. I have been told that I come across as snotty and aloof, which is completely not the case! I love relationships, it’s just that being so “on” completely exhausts me and at times is very overwhelming. I think there is also a lot of anxiety involved, and when the levels are that high you can only keep it going for so long before you finally collapse. So, my question is how do we serve and love the body, but still stand up for who we are and how God made us?

        • Monica says

          Wow, thank you ladies for sharing your thoughts, it’s like I’m reading my own writing. I’m 6′ (have been since I was 12), smart (which caused me to skip grades and leave me with nothing in common with my high school peers), and very introverted. I would take a good book, alone on my porch any time over most any social situation. I tend to not speak and let my husband talk for us while I smile in the background. Finding a church has been a challenge in that my extroverted mother-in-law’s life revolves round her church and would like nothing more than for us to attend with her, but I’m not comfortable coming into a church where the expectations for me are on her level, so we attend another church. I’m there for the message mainly, but do participate in the food and school supply drives (as I only have to put a bag in a box in the lobby, not speaking to anyone) to teach my child the charity aspect of the church while we are out buying the items, but each week I feel like I’m ducking out to avoid another invitation to the pot-luck or woman’s Bible study and feel like I’m perceived as a snob for not communicating with these very kind people. I just want to enjoy the event of church as down time, sitting for an hour and listening to music and a sermon, no interruptions of phone calls or children’s requests, just a little me and God time, I have to remind myself that’s what it’s all about.

    • says

      Being an introvert is tough. I’ve been told more than once that I am intimidating, which I think is a hoot–I’m 5’4″ and rarely speak up in a new crowd.

      I have never had large circles of friends, but usually one or two close ones. I don’t have many right now, so when I am in a social situation, I am looking for someone to connect with–I miss that sisterly relationship that friends have. For me, it’s like this: You walk into a new Bible study or small group, and hope you fit in. You glance around the room, looking for someone you know, a lady that grabs your attention, draws you to her for one reason or another. You hope the instinct kicks in because making the effort to intentionally strike up a conversation with a total stranger can be daunting.

      I frequently feel left behind because I am usually a wallflower, lurking and listening in the shadows but rarely engaging. Then the others in the group bond and forge those friendships, and I feel like a pariah and want to find a different group to try, because I wasn’t embraced by that one. Only they didn’t know I was there to embrace, because I never spoke up! I’m not shunned–it’s more like I’m invisible!

      Like several others have said: being an introvert is exhausting and sometimes downright depressing. (Yes, I know–poor pitiful me :-))
      Beth Ingersoll´s last blog post ..Updates from Kenya

      • Michelle says

        I get the “intimidating” comment too (5′ 6″ – smart, well-read, thoughtful, outspoken introvert).

        I wish grown ups would own up to *feeling intimidated* and then take the steps needed to buck up. I find the “intimidating” label to be at best irresponsible, and at worst passive-aggressive.

        • says

          Oh, I have often been called intimidating too, and I am not even 5’1″. In my case, though, I don’t think it has much at all to do with being introverted but with the fact that I am intelligent and unafraid/unreluctant to speak up in such situations as college classes, Bible studies, and so forth. In fact I love being in a good theological or historical or linguistic discussion in class. People recognize that I am an intelligent woman in a theological/ecclesiastical setting, and for some reason that intimidates them. Perhaps it is compounded by the fact that I would rather walk around with my nose in a book than chatting brightly with everyone who comes along.

      • Liane says

        I feel fortunate in that my church has a lot of introverts in leadership, so they leave me alone when it’s appropriate and let me get involved at my own pace. Beth, I understand what you are saying. Regarding small groups and social settings, it is really hard to watch someone who is brand new, come in and establish tons of relationships right away that I have been longing to establish for a number of years. The comparison thing is so pernicious and hard to get past, especially when I feel jealous of folks who know more people but then I realize that I only have capacity for the few close friends I do have. It does make me feel inadequate.

      • Kandi says

        “I frequently feel left behind because I am usually a wallflower, lurking and listening in the shadows but rarely engaging. Then the others in the group bond and forge those friendships, and I feel like a pariah and want to find a different group to try, because I wasn’t embraced by that one. Only they didn’t know I was there to embrace, because I never spoke up! I’m not shunned–it’s more like I’m invisible!

        Like several others have said: being an introvert is exhausting and sometimes downright depressing. (Yes, I know–poor pitiful me :-) )”

        EXACTLY, Beth!

      • Jamie says

        Yes! I completely understand. I’m in my third year of college. I never joined into church youth groups while growing up, because of my introversion (and my shyness, which are two completely different things I’ve discovered); but always heard that it is vital to get involved with church groups during college. When I tried for the past couple of years it has been so difficult for me. I had very similar experiences in my bible study group. I can even remember a time that we got dinner and I was the only person that didn’t say a single word during the whole evening. I not only felt “invisible”, but later I felt ashamed of who I was. Needless to say, this year I have not tried to join in with the bible groups at my college, but I feel a lot more peace.

    • helvetica says

      Count me in as another tall, smart, introverted female in the church, wow there are more of us? We need a support group.

      I have to deal with people trying to “fix” me, trying to publicly humiliate me (I guess teasing brings normal people “out of their shell”?), talking to me like I’m six, giving me stupid tasks because it looks like I’m sitting around doing nothing, and a host of other misinformed tactics. I had to explain introverts to my own family and they were like, “oh well now I understand your grandfather”.

      Additionally, being of far above average intellectual capacity makes most bible study topics way too simplistic for me (I’m studying for a PhD in engineering). My comments at small groups are often met with furrowed brows.

      Additionally, I have to be gluten free so there goes most fellowship opportunities involving food.

      I’m just a whole bunch of different. I’ve had to quit more small groups than I care to remember. I still hold out hope that someday I will have actual Christian relationships with other women.

      It’s very frustrating that so many Christians are so clueless about the range of what “normal” human behavior actually looks like. “Normal” people don’t all have to be emotional extroverts. A friend’s therapist once said, picture a world where intellectual introverts were in the majority, and emotional extroverts were in the minority – they would be the ones looking weird, not us. We aren’t broken and don’t need to be fixed.

      • says

        Whoa! If I know I didn’t type your comment I swear this was mine! I’m a tall introvert and gluten intolerant as well. Go figure! I’ve only known about the gluten thing for a few months, but I’m managing the social part of it ok.

        I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said something at bible studies, only to be met with staring at the floor and awkward silence, then quickly moving on by the group leader. (I’ll never have a PhD but I do have a math degree)

        I don’t know if the support group will happen because we’re not outgoing enough to talk to each other.

        Finding friends is definitely tough. Any chance you live near Columbus, OH?

    • Terri says

      Karen! We must be twins separated at birth! I’m also 6’1″, smart, and tend to be perceived as stuck up when I’m really just painfully shy. I’d like to be inobtrusive, but it’s nearly impossible, LOL.

  10. says

    Reading that first paragraph from Adam about the “ideal Christian (extroverted) woman”, I remembered how far from that I usually feel. I’m the one who is always ostracised for being quiet and “standoffish”. I don’t like small talk, and I don’t like to pretend. I used to, but it was exhausting! And, it never really made much of a difference anyway — as if the other women could sense that I wasn’t being true to myself.

    I found it funny, recently, when my mom told me that a lady from the Bible study group we both attend commented about how she didn’t know I was so “knowledgeable”. It’s almost like people assume that, because I don’t speak up a lot, I don’t know as much!

    Anyway. I would love to win a copy of this book! Thanks for the chance, Emily! mizbooks[at]gmail[dot]com
    MizB´s last blog post ..WWW Wednesdays (June 6)

    • Karen says

      Oh! Yes! I get that too, the ‘Hey that’s a really interesting and insightful comment, wow!’ – yes, people, I am smart. Just because I don’t feel the need to shoot my mouth off at every opportunity does not mean I know nothing.

      & for the chatty extroverts in the crowd, please don’t take that as an insult. I so so so WISH I was good at making small talk, I just have no idea where to begin. But it does seem like people (men and women) equate a woman’s intelligence like her faith as mentioned in the post – if she’s more verbal about it, there must be more of it.

      • says

        Really? I’ve always had precisely the opposite experience. Talking so little means that people really listen when I do say something, and everyone assumes that because I’m so quiet and shy, that means I’m also super-smart and insightful (perhaps the fact that the shyness means I always have my nose in a book has something to do with that). When no one else knows the answer, someone will say, “I bet Katie knows” or they’ll ask what I think about a topic because they know that if I say anything it will be thought-out and not just chatter.

        Now this usually happens in meetings and Bible studies, but that’s the way it was all through school, too. And, honestly, I confess I pridefully cultivate that impression–the female version of the “strong, silent type” which is, I guess, the “bookish brainiac.” But I’ve never, ever had someone think that I wasn’t smart because I didn’t talk. I always thought it was the opposite, that chatty people were seen as airheads or blowhards with not much going on between the ears.

        Or maybe that’s me being just as arrogant and judgmental as everyone thinks I am…I guess I relate more to the commenters above who say people find them intimidating. It’s interesting to hear how the same actions are interpreted differently by different communities.

        • says

          This is interesting, I see my husband in this light: he doesn’t say much, but when he does, listen up! And also my gramps, both are introverts who don’t speak up often, but when they do, it’s worth listening to.
          However, I can’t think of any women I’ve thought this of–well, not until I thought about it more and now I can think of a couple.

  11. says

    People in high school thought I was stuck up and better than everyone else. (which could have been farther from the truth because I had an alcoholic father at home and we were dirt poor…..we were po’)

    At church…I’m not sure…one of my best friends is an extrovert. She is the “popular” one. And I think she is perceived as being very spiritual. Sometimes I wish I had her applause. But then there are those friends who are also introverts, that I see as the really strong, spiritual ladies. The are meek and quiet and have this amazing underlying strength. Very Proverbs 31. And then I stop myself and think that I’d rather have their strength than the applause any day.
    Kat´s last blog post ..An Open Letter for Mother’s Day

    • ~Lynn says

      I can relate to your post. I was always thought of as stuck up and it hurt deeply when I became aware of it. I often felt misunderstood and under appreciated and yes…. tried to dodge people thinking I was ‘stupid’ cause i didn’t speak up as much. Then OVER compensating for it by not being myself, then going home and hating it all. Just wanted to be accepted for who I was and how I was. Introverts are misunderstood I feel.

  12. says

    I agree with the others. It’s exhausting. And I worry. I know some people see me as stuck up or reclusive. I work hard to be friendly and open. I too have stepped back from so much, and I feel as if I am letting people down when I don’t do a bazillion other things.
    Stacey´s last blog post ..Facebook Page Update

  13. Bethany says

    When I think of the “strong, silent” type in women of the church, I think of nuns, devoting themselves to God, taking vows of poverty, chastity, and even, yes, silence in order to serve God alone. What was Maria Von Trapp’s problem except that she was so loud and energetic and extroverted? :-) One of my life dreams is to spend a week at a monastery being silent except during worship.

    An added complication to the “introverted woman in the church” dilemma is that there are still many churches, denominations, congregations where in order to be leaders in the church women have to be loud and energetic and push for acceptance in those positions. Leadership is draining enough to have to push to get the leadership position can be an overwhelming prospect.

  14. says

    For me, it is high school all over again. Certain groups of woman hang out and talk while I MAY get an occassional “hi” as they pass me to rush off to their group of friends. Most of all, I feel overlooked even if I do try to ‘fit in’ and participate in a woman’s small group, which is very exhausting for me! Especially when these leaders feel the need to have everyone talk and will call on you if you do not. To my close friends, I’m not an introvert. But in public (crowds) situations in which I know no one, I’m very much so. I do fear others look at me and judge me as a snob because I don’t talk with the ‘in crowd’ at church.

    I had a situation occur which ended up very hurtful. I was a leader of a ministry after a pastor who really saw who I was encouraged me in. I found out later people do judge people for being quiet and not what their ideal leader looks like. I was even told that I need to talk to others more if I’m going to be a leader even though the ministry was running very smoothly and better than it had in years. And people in the church office judged me because they didn’t think I was “leader” material. People judge if one isn’t outgoing and in people’s faces. It is all very hurtful.
    Deanna´s last blog post ..Online Grace for the Good Girl Study

  15. Phyllis Reklis says

    This was an amazing article and a great conversation starter here! I have loved reading the comments and hearing the various perspectives. The common thread for me is that in female spheres the ongoing battle is in the deeply entrenched default mode of COMPARISON ! It reveals itself in multiple ways daily in the heart of a woman and it brings so many negative dings to her soul and mind. One of the ways women compensate is just as Emily has said so well in her book, putting on the appropriate mask before we enter any given encounter with other women.

    For the introvert, this is especially true or at least it has been a mode of operation for me. We have been in the ministry in churches for over 30 yrs and as a young woman, I observed just what Adam was saying about the “model of faith” type woman. I spent many years perfecting that role even though I often had to “act” my way through the “event” at hand. I have said many times that I should have received an Oscar !

    Not everything I did was false nor was I, or am I, “pretending” all the time. But the package I presented was not always what I wanted to be known as and definitely was exhausting!
    But the payoff kept me locked in!

    Years of life and the grace of His Love has set me free in so many ways….it cost me in church circles when I took off the mask and presented my truer self…loss of equity and opportunities…..but God is opening up truer and better relationships and opportunities! And my equity and influence is actually paving the way for other introverts to be seen and heard as the valuable women they are….God is allowing my voice in these matters to be heard and letting me be my true self at the same time!

    I really want to read this book and go deeper! Thanks, Emily and thanks, Adam!

  16. Holly says

    I think this is why I feel more comfortable in a small church…I too, have a friend who is an extrovert, very involved, leads women’s ministry, sings special music, was head of the hospitality committee, etc. I sometimes think I should be more like that, contributing more to the “visible” work of the church, but I just cannot find the will to do so. I am willing to help, but behind the scenes is more comfortable.

    Thanks you for the insight that there are others who prefer to just listen, ponder and serve in quieter ways. I think that the people who know me know I am not “stuck-up” but I’m not sure what others who don’t know me think…

  17. says

    Exhausting. Intimidating. Pressure-filled. Lonely. Filled with feelings of being misunderstood, or unknown, or “they want me to change”, or “I’m not enough” or “what I can do is not enough”. Sometimes shame-filled (but that is me taking innocent words and letting them shame me though that wasn’t the purpose). I make efforts in friendships, but when those efforts are too small for my extroverted friends to see, or don’t match what their extroverted friends do, the effort is hardly ever reciprocated…

    • Jamie says

      Carisss, I sooo have experienced everything you just put down, especially about the friends not reciprocating, because my personality did not give enough to what they expected or wanted. It’s a lonely, hurtful place. It left me in a place where I couldn’t start any new relationship without thinking that person thought I was inadequate. God is (slowly) bringing me out of that mindset to the freedom of not caring, but to tell the truth, I still don’t completely trust that people like me. I am a little jaded, and it takes me even longer now to open up to others.

  18. GinaLou says

    What does it feel like? Sometimes it feels like being an alien from another planet. Sometimes it feels peaceful in the midst of chaos. Sometimes it feels like you are a freak. Sometimes it feels like no one appreciates what you do because you are not a leader but a do-er. That feeling leads to questioning your motives and guilt because you know your heart should be focused on others and not your own glory – on giving God glory.

    Many times it just feels like you are standing outside the circle.

  19. says

    I have never been seen as stuck up or introverted, even though I am. I think people who are introverts (and a single child, no less!) have to force themselves to be someone ‘else’ a lot. I can play the role of leader, coordinator, nursery worker, etc. etc. until the cows come home, but it’s utterly exhausting and it usually takes a year or so to reach burnout.
    My husband is very balanced in this way and for that I am thankful, because he helps me realize ‘real guilt’ vs. ‘fake guilt’, and doing things out of love instead of obligation or a need to be involved because someone asks me to…people pleasing.
    Just this past month I have given away a lot of my responsibilities in our church, am about to partake on a 2 month sabbatical from our weekly community group (that my husband has led for just under 4 years–talk about exhausting!), and the only thing I kept was something that fits very well, and I’ve done with ease for more than 2 years. Already the month has flown by. I really kept it under the radar that I’m so freed up because that would just mean more coffee dates, dinners, etc. The hard thing to explain is that it’s not that I don’t *want* to see people as they are, in one-on-one fellowship, but a couple nights a week can be so draining, even if it was a great night. It’s a really hard tension that I find myself in, and a hard cycle to break of ‘too much’.
    Sarah M
    Sarah M´s last blog post ..Be Right Back: Blogging Break

    • Phyllis Reklis says

      Sarah, your new venture into doing what fits your personality, giftings, strengths is really the best thing ever! Giving yourself permission to live and serve from a place of desire and not just duty is life-changing and empowering! and really blesses others so much more than we think….blessings on these 2 months and the difference this will make for the rest of your life :)

    • says

      Oh, this has just opened a new door for me. I am what I call a “trained extrovert”. I am an introvert by nature but learned, when leaving my home country behind including friends I’d had since kindergarten, that if I was to make new friends in a land where I knew nobody but my husband I was gonna have to put myself out there. So I know I need time to myself, alone, in order to handle it. But I would say most people in my church have absolutely no clue that I’m naturally an introvert. I made that declaration once and instantly found another gal who was introverted on the inside. I’m not shy about sharing my opinion but it almost seems to me that these days its more important that other voices get heard and really listened to and I think introverts are great at listening.

      Sarah, thank you for sharing your story of taking time to be you and finding how to serve out of your gifts. It really encouraged me.
      Leanne Shawler´s last blog post ..Joy Dare Monday

  20. says

    Seeing the word Exhausting written out so resonated with me. I have been criticized for not wearing a smile all the time. I am missionary so some think that is a requirement. I was actually told one I must do that because I was an employee of the church. Not that the person who was on staff did that of course. What is this? Sorority rush? I do interact. But I am also content to sit quietly. Actually I just can’t think of what to say to all the people. Not so good at small talk. So I am thought of as snobby, intimidating and unapproachable. My husband who is quieter than me has never been labeled in such a way! In other Christian circles this has not necessarily been the case.
    Linda´s last blog post ..Memorial Day from Stem to Stern

  21. Holly says

    As some others have said….How does it feel?….it’s so exhausting!! I pick and choose events so I’m not worn out. VBS is almost pure torture for me.

    • says

      I just have to say that I laughed out loud at your comment that “VBS is almost pure torture for me”. I couldn’t agree more! All that noise!!! And so many kids out of control!!! For several years, I felt I HAD to help with VBS because I have young kids myself. But finally, I had to just own up to who I am and admit that I was doing out of guilt alone. So no more VBS for me. :) Relief!

        • AK says

          VBS leaders everywhere are readying the tomato launch. Just the words VBS make me want a nap. Back in the day, I think my church had it nailed. Grandmas (United Methodist Women- Yes!) taught some kiddos (who came in the morning! from 9-12!) how to make a God’s eye (every year), sing the same songs (every year), eat two sandwich cookies and red Kool-Aid quietly, and play on the church playground equipment. Add a morning prayer, Bible story, popsicle sticks, and instructions to frame your picture of Jonah, and friends! we have Bible School. If you would have suggested to these women that Bible School would involve complete church redecorating, theme snacks, videos, costumed adults, sychronized dancing, and take-home character keychains, I think they would have turned the whole thing over to the United Methodist Men. From that point, the concept would have died immediately. I’m being a bit snarky, of course, but I think Bible School’s original mission– which was likely to offer some love to children, give them an introduction to God’s great glory, and offer a sweet learning experience during the long summer months– has been lost as churches seek to out-do one another in creating the greatest show on earth. Mercy.

          • says

            My younger son, who is also an introvert, loved VBS his first summer because he really connected with one of the teachers. The second summer, however, he didn’t, and it was too noisy and crowded for him. Wednesday, all the kids were in the sanctuary singing VBS songs when I got there to pick him up. I could see him curled up in a corner of a pew with his hands over his ears and a scowl on his face. I wasn’t surprised when he asked if he could stay home on Thursday. We spent the time building things instead.

            He’s 13 yo now, and his favorite times at church are the daily services – a small group of people and a quiet and prayerful service.

          • Donna says

            “If you would have suggested to these women that Bible School would involve complete church redecorating, theme snacks, videos, costumed adults, sychronized dancing, and take-home character keychains, I think they would have turned the whole thing over to the United Methodist Men.”

            That comment should have come with a warning label… “Do not take a sip of coffee while reading”

            thank you for the morning laugh!

    • says

      OH my word yes. We are gearing up for VBS next week and because of the grand push to get EVERYONE to sign up to host a booth (we are doing sort of a camp with games style VBS) and because I have a very extroverted son who insisted that he wanted to do a booth (our VBS this year is for the kids of the community, with our kids helping to put it on), I get to do a booth. Hoo-rah.

      And then, after we signed up, we get the email “Oh, by the way, there is a MANDATORY prayer-walk and invitation handing out through the neighborhoods the Saturday before.” This social-anxiety ridden introvert just about curled up in a ball and cried. And then I set my boundary and just emailed and nicely said ‘sorry, that won’t work for us’.

      What is it like being an introverted woman in church? Full of guilt for not being able to do all the things the extroverts do with such ease.
      Rea´s last blog post ..Eyes for the Father

      • Trinka says

        Church secretary here … currently sitting in my office amidst the whirlwind that is VBS.

        I came in at 3:00 a.m. yesterday, just for the opportunity to get some work done in silence. The amount of social interaction demanded by having the building suddenly filled with people exhausts me, so by the time everyone leaves at noon, there’s no possible hope of getting anything accomplished, and of course, the chaos prevents productivity in the morning!

        I’m so thankful for the ministry; I know it is a great opportunity to share the gospel with children, but I’m ready for a two week vacation when it’s over!

        There can easily be 20-30 people stopping by my office, “just to say hi” every morning. I love them all. I would be delighted to sit and have a true conversation with any one of them. But taken as a group, with only surface conversation, it’s very wearing!

        I also really identify with earlier comments about putting on the “costume” of extroversion. It so often needs to happen (or seems like it needs to happen). But there’s always a longing to take it off and throw it in the corner, once I’ve reached the shelter of my own house … like I would do with a pair of too-tight shoes.

        Oh, man, and the “I’m talking because I’m supposed to be talking, but it’s all inane, high-pitched, shallow fluff” feeling. Yeah … do it all the time.

        I can identify with so many comments on this thread!

  22. Lori says

    My whole life I have always wondered what on earth people talk about when I see them chatting away! I have just learned over the years to “fake it” and act comfortable talking to people I don’t know well. And I have also learned that if you are serving in some capacity at church it gives you something to talk about and frees you from the need to socialize as much.

    • Lisa says

      Yes! People keep telling me “you shouldn’t have to put away the chairs”etc after service as the men should do that, you should go chat. And it’s so difficult to get across the message that I would *much rather* move large stacks of chairs, because my life-week is so draining/demanding that I don’t have the energy to put on the mask at church!

  23. says

    I’m definitely an introvert, but I am very social. Thus, when I tell people I need to just rest alone for an evening, people can take it personally or think I’m being selfish. It’s not that – it’s that when I don’t take that time, I am not pleasant to be around. This is particularly hard in church where women are seen as the primary social caregivers for everyone. So appreciate this post and the comments.
    Andi´s last blog post ..The Details Matter

  24. Flora B. says

    Wow, its like you were watching me this whole time. I have a lot on my plate with at family of five and a family of one vehicel. My little one attends private school and you have to volunteer 40hrs .If you can’t then you have to pay $300 at the end of the yr.
    I love the school but sometimes you just can’t be there. My husband and I wk full time…the poor guy has to drive us around everywhere during school days. I would love to be that mother that is always volunteering at school, but I need those few min to catch my breath sometimes. I would love to win a copy of this book, and tahnk you for talking about this.

  25. says

    I keep seeing the word “exhausting” showing up in the comments… so true!!! I am very comfortable with people in very small groups or 1 on 1 with those I trust, but more than that is overwhelming to me. And that is exactly when/where the devil creeps in. With anxiety. With Fear. Resentment. Anger. Suspicion. The list goes on and on.

    My biggest issue is that I feel I am continually thrusted into positions of leadership in our church. I LOVE serving. I HATE leading. Yes, I hate it. I know that “everyone has a leader inside them” blah blah blah. Here is the other one I hear a lot: Maybe God is growing/stretching you as a leader. I really don’t think so. I think when I am in a leadership position, I am most likely serving outside my gifts and burnout is just right around the corner.

    You really hit a nerve with me, touching on the gender issue. I have been asking these questions over and over for the past few months: Is there a leader inside this introverted woman and I am just not doing it right? Why am I made to feel that there MUST be?
    jamie´s last blog post ..Saying Goodbye: What I’ll Miss About This House

    • says

      Jamie, I just wanted to respond to your comment about serving vs. leading. I think you are on the right track. If you love to serve, but hate to lead, and you recognize that leadership brings you to a place of burnout…then you are probably not meant to be the leader. AND THAT IS OKAY! Because every leader needs people like you – people to help SERVE and get the work done! I have been where you are…pushed into leadership positions that have eventually burned me out. It’s hard to say no when the church asks for us to lead something…but I think we need to be brave and listen to our hearts!
      Marcia´s last blog post ..some thoughts on middle faith

  26. Anne says

    This topic is so close to me that it is actually painful. For years I have dealt with feeling guilty for being an introvert. It seems that extroverts are respected and “normal”, while the quiet people are self-centered snobs. If we would just quit thinking about ourselves and quit being selfish, then we could “get out of our shell” and be like the rest of the extroverts.

    I’ve struggled so long with feeling like my personality is sinful that I have given up. I’m to the point now that I don’t care if I’m “invisible” at church. I’m thankful that God understands me and for a loving husband who supports me.

    Add me to the list of those who are “exhausted”!

    • says

      “If we would just quit thinking about ourselves and quit being selfish, then we could “get out of our shell” and be like the rest of the extroverts. ”
      Oh, yes, that is the perfect description to how I grew up thinking about myself. Thank God I no longer do. I can’t recommend Adam’s book “Introverts In The Church” highly enough for some lovely encouragement on that score.

  27. Susie Daggett says

    It’s a fight every Sunday morning just to get to church. I avoid woman’s retreats and other social activities because I am miserable. I am much better at one on one conversations. I wish I was different.

      • JJ says

        I went to my first women’s retreat once. I told myself I will come home and have friends but it was the most awkward, humiliating ever for me. I was chasing women so I can join their group and it felt like I was not even there. I stayed with two other women who only talked to each other. I cried when I came home and I felt like a little child but I’m already in my late 20′s lol.

        • AB says

          JJ-
          This sounds more like my experiences with trying to connect with other women at church and most other groups throughout my life as well. I am an introvert who tests as an INTJ on Myers-Briggs personality results. Women seem to want to connect with others who have an attitude that is friendly and “appearing” to be open, without actually being too open.

          My problem is, after being rejected throughout life, I realized I was too blunt and honest (but friendly!) when first meeting people, and women (everywhere, not just in church) have an animal instinct that “something is different” and are wary of the person, perhaps sensing desperation which makes them uncomfortable. This makes you a target for *mean women* as well. In my opinion, I have lived and learned and find that it is better to learn to be the quiet one and a misunderstood introvert, then a to put your heart out there, watch it be crushed, and feel like you hate going to church.

          The one good thing out of this is that my bad life experiences in connecting with other women and groups socially, led me to study psychology since I was 13 years old, and now at 32 my husband is making enough for me to go to school for my 2nd college degree which will be in psychology. One day after I have my PhD, I hope to help others find the answers to their problems through the link between our faith and psychology. God made us with brains and knowing how they work can help us greater understand God’s plan for us through knowing ourselves and our personalities as well as identify our weaknesses so we can be more careful not to fall. God has a plan for everyone and uses their strengths. Not everyone learns about God through the extroverts. My son learned through me, my husband witnessed to an atheist lesbian couple over a years time through his online game which only used typing to communicate, and I witness to my coworker who didn’t believe in God. None of that is affected one way or another by me being an extrovert in church, and so I accept that this is His plan, and roll with it!

  28. Amy E. says

    I really can relate to this topic because I have always worn the label of introvert. It was given to me as a child…she is so quiet, she is so shy, on and on. And I put myself in that box, all my life. And now as an adult Christian wife and mother, it kind of makes me mad sometimes. God did not say, you will be born either an introvert or an extrovert! Man created these terms, and we try to fit into one or the other, and blame ourselves when we don’t fit, or do fit, or worry that we are considered by others to be less because of the label we wear.

    Can we just be who God created us to be? And be comfortable there, confident that He doesn’t make mistakes? And not criticize our sisters in Christ for not living up to some ideal?

  29. Blair says

    I am not only an introvert, but a single introvert. I recently started going to a different church, a church where I could blend in and not have too many people ask questions about my life and job and such. It is wonderful for me to be able to slide into church just before the band starts to play, and to slide out after the closing prayer so I can avoid that awkward small talk with strangers.

    That is, until recently.

    A couple of months ago, I realized I needed to be more involved in church. That isn’t a bad thing. I love my church, and it would be nice to understand some of the inside stories that the pastor tells about different people in the congregation, but that means I have to talk to strangers. But I did it. I became involved in the worship team. The practices are still very uncomfortable for me, but I have a stand and instrument to hide behind. Who knows? Maybe some day, I’ll get brave enough to go to lunch with the singles group the next time they ask.

  30. says

    The “greet your neighbor” time is torture for introverts in the church — women or men.

    I’m not sure as a women introvert I’ve experienced that much different from men introverts in the church. I have been on staff and a leader in churches for a good long time. Ministry has worn me out in the past, though. But as I’ve learned more about myself, and about my introversion, it’s less likely to happen.
    AprilK´s last blog post ..Fruit of the Spirit Revisited

    • jess says

      HAHA!! I hadn’t planned on saying anything on this post…just wanted to read the comments.
      And then I read this and BINGO! you hit the nail on the head. I’ve attended the SAME SMALL (we’re talkin’ 5 ppl) church for the past 25 YEARS (I’m 30), and I loathe stand up and greet your neighbor time. i LOVE my church family. LOVE THEM. They are just that–family–! But greet your neighbor time is for the birds. just last sunday I thought to myself, “Jeez Louise. Will we ever STOP?”

      I cracked up when I read your first sentence. :)

      • jess says

        not FIVE people. FIFTY people.
        (if it were just FIVE, then i might actually worry about myself for not liking it. :))

  31. Jessica W says

    I tend to surround myself with other introverts and those I’m comfortable with. I often wonder if some people think it rude that I have not introduced myself to them.

  32. says

    I had not thought of the fact that women are expected to be more social in church, but I think it explains a lot of my anxiety over going to church some days. Sunday is supposed to be my day of rest, and yet I’m expected to go and socialize with tons of people.

    I am currently attending a smaller, more intimate, “coffee house” service that my church recently started. It’s an introvert’s worship dream: low key music, only about thirty people in attendance, even a brief moment of silent prayer mixed in with the service. Because it’s such a small service, the planning committee (which I’ve become a part of) is trying some new things. One of the brilliant ideas presented was to do a pot luck luncheon once a month after the service so everyone in attendance could get to know each other. When the idea presented itself, my stomach sank as I thought, “Great. Now I’m being forced to be social.” We did the first potluck this past Sunday, and I left. I simply did not have the energy to talk with people. I worry that people think I’m a snob, but then I’m so tired I just don’t care.

    I used to attend a lot of women’s Bible studies and conferences, but lately, I have not had the desire. Being around a lot of women is pretty tiring.
    Jamie Kocur´s last blog post ..Entertain me

    • Patricia says

      You are not alone Jamie. I promise. I also find Sunday morning anxiety provoking. I’ve been struggling with a lot of guilt about that lately, in fact. It’s not that I don’t care about others–I do. But I work in the helping professions with a rather intense population, and the past 4 years or so have been quite a roller coaster ride for my husband and me. So, what I seek at church is peace and calm and healing. I don’t really want to talk about myself. And, being a good listener is important to me, but, honestly, I wish I could be “off the clock” at church. I understand where you’re coming from.

  33. Kim says

    I have recently come to realize I am an introvert in the church. However, the Good Girl in me did not feel like that was acceptable so I’ve been masquerading as an extrovert…in fact the very woman you described in your post. As a result, I am exhausted and often confused as to why! I am just grateful that the Father, who knows me better than myself, is revealing this to me and leading me gently through the healing process.

    Kim

  34. kathy says

    My husband is a very outgoing pastor and I am very shy and quiet. There have been many hurtful times in the past where people will come up and talk with him and behave as if I’m invisible. I do a blog now and I think people are surprised that I have things to say. That has helped me a lot in just having a voice.

  35. Diana says

    I don’t know if I can be labeled one or the other. As a pastor’s wife for the past 13 years I have had to learn to be what I’m not naturally bent to be. There are times when I have to step up to the plate and behave opposite of the way I feel. What I want is to avoid the social setting, the crowd, the women who scrutinize every word, every action. What I want is to steer clear of all situations where I might have to carry on a conversation with another woman (men are easier to converse with). I typically dread any and all social events. BUT…when I set my self, my wants, my “needs” aside for the moment and focus on Philippians 2:1-11 (counting others as more significant than myself), I find that God blesses those situations and I come away blessed in both big and small ways. It is absolutely exhausting and often VERY difficult, but it is rewarding. I might add that I feel like it isn’t about being fake (I am very transparent about how difficult social gatherings are for me) but rather, it is about loving my neighbor as myself. My neighbor’s needs might require a conversation or an event that I would otherwise avoid. If I were writing my story it would be a quiet, country life surrounded by only by family and a very FEW choice people. But God is writing my story and he has me placed in ministry (fishbowl) in a metropolitan area. I can choose resist or embrace His plan for my life. I often do both. I always find that He knows best.

    • ~Lynn says

      I love what you said here. I have been in very similar circumstances and agree with how you are going about handling being an introvert. It does work to put our needs aside to minister to others, which requires alot of extrovertism…if there is such a term.

      God Bless You!

    • Chris says

      I have often thought about whether or not Jesus was an extrovert or introvert in His humanity. I think He was the complete balance of both…He easily spoke and ministered in large crowds, yet surrounded Himself with just a few close friends, and needed His quiet times of prayer, refueling, and reflection. I am an introvert and agree with much of what has been said in all these comments, and yet desire to be like my Lord in all things. As I’ve aged (I’m in my 60′s) I have realized that if I submit to the Lord’s ways, like Diana has said, putting other’s needs over my own natural bent and need, I find that Jesus enables me to be more extroverted without the exhaustion that I have often experienced in the past. I hope I can respect the way He has made me, and yet grow to all He wants me to be. I would love to read Adam’s book because the many ways the Lord has made all of us is SO interesting to me, and I want to respect and accept each of those He brings into my life with more understanding of the way they have been created and are wired.

    • says

      This is a very excellent point. I know that there are many ways in which God uses us by stretching us outside our natural selves and many ways in which He uses what He has put into us from birth.
      But we have to be careful that it is *God* using us and not us trying to conform to some external demands that say a Christian has to look a certain way. If we try to run around being everything the world/the church/our family/our friends/whoever says we have to be, burnout and depression will probably be the result, leading to a complete lack of effectiveness. The important thing is doing and being what God wants, not what we’ve been socialized to believe is a requirement.

  36. kristal says

    I’m an introvert, always have been. I grew up in an extremely extroverted family…we actually joke that I didn’t talk until I was 15 and my sister moved away to college. I’ll admit, even in our small group Bible study (6 people when we’re all there), which as been together for 3 years now, I sometimes struggle to say what’s really on my mind. I struggle a lot with the fear of rejection, even when I know the people I’m with will love me no matter what! Now, get me in a one-on-one or one-on-two group, and I’m much more open. I tend to make friends quickly when I am able to be in a one-on-one situation with someone.
    I have found, however, that having a community of close friends is HUGELY important to me. I NEED people around me…just not all the time! I need my core group of close friends that I know I can call anytime, whether it’s just to grab lunch and catch up, or because I need a shoulder to cry on…and I enjoy being that person for them as well. Just keep the group small, and we’re good.

    • JJ says

      I hope I can find a core group of friends in our church. Right now, I don’t have any. I can’t get in the cliques group. I also don’t call attention to myself, so I usually stand there on my own, wishing I can vanish.

  37. says

    I am an extrovert, but know so many introverts who can relate to this. One of them recently said to me that for every one day around people, they need three days to recover. I know it can be exhausting. Great post.

  38. Rebecca says

    Awkward. Exhausting. The feeling of never connecting to any one. I am very very much an introvert. I am also a military wife. It means that we have been going to church for almost two years now and I still have no idea who most of them are…. I go to social activites and mom’s groups because I feel as if I should … and I go and I sit with a fake smile on face having no idea how to to talk to the complete stranger next to me…. And when I do try I always seem to fail miserably. It also dosn’t help that my husband whishes we were more social….

  39. Iris says

    I am currently reading Adam’s book. I can tell you that there are words that are used to describe an introverted, emotionally close to the chest lady…and they’re not words I’d like to put into print. People make very sweeping assumptions about you when you are a woman that isn’t fired from a cannon into social situations. My husband is also an introvert, so we make quite the pair. We are both extroverted with the people we grow close to, but it takes a while to get to know us. So, we make a few relationships that we invest in heavily and don’t worry about getting to know the entire congregation, as an extrovert may be apt to do. I do see a difference between how introverted women and men are revered, and I think it’s more socially acceptable for a man to be closed socially than a woman. I also feel lonely when it seems other women are “clicking” over hobbies or interests; it is hard for me to chit-chat. So, people often assume I’m too serious or am being judgemental. Going to church on Sunday morning can be exhausting.

  40. Kendra Chevalier says

    Honestly, being an introvert in my church circles is a bit daunting. It really seems that everyone I hang around is an extrovert. I almost feel pressured to jump out of my comfort zone so much in conversation and action that it bothers me for a while afterwards. I do try, though. In conversation, I often have something to say, but I don’t feel like it adds too much to it, so I don’t say it. Its like I have a huge desire to be willy-nilly with my coversation, but its not who I am.
    Believe me, I love people and love hanging out with them but I don’t connect with them too well all the time. I’m trying though. I’m big on listening and thinking about what is being said in a big coversation.

  41. Christine says

    You know, reading your guest post, I was struck by your comment that introverted women might often be considered stand-offish or stuck up. I think I’ve been getting that my whole life. I first heard it when I was a cheerleader in high school. I was the stuck up one, but the truth was that I was/am just reserved and keep my thoughts to myself.

    But here’s the thing: I do like to do things that would seem out of the box for an introvert (cheering being an obvious one) but I find that I do it more so that I seem like I fit in. And it works that way at church too. People assume that I’m an extrovert because I tend to get involved in things, but getting involved doesn’t necessarily mean I am the fun, energetic leader girl. I look at it more that I have a servant’s heart, I can still somehow be involved in Kingdom work, yet blend into the background.

    I keep trying to assert myself through these things, but I’m pretty uncomfortable doing it. In small group or Sunday school settings, I always have a gazillion thoughts that I just know, darn it, would be so relevant to the discussion at hand, but I either sit silently, or let the thoughts blurble out incoherently and then blush in embarrassment like I did when I was in 7th grade and the teacher called on me!

    I’m still trying to reconcile who I am with who God wants me to be. But sometimes it’s exhausting enough without trying to be what the “church” thinks I should be….

    • Tracy says

      Oh my goodness! Your Sunday school situations sound EXACTLY like mine! I feel like I have so much to say, but I’m terrified of speaking up!!! So I explain it all to my husband when we leave church, and he says, “Why didn’t you just say something?!” I hate talking in group settings!!!!

      • Christine says

        Tracy,

        I even took a speech class in college (actually one of my favorite classes) to try to help, but it only served to help me be a “prepared” speaker. It’s done little to ease my fears of speaking off the top of my head in a group setting! And yeah, my husband says that to me too… After all these years of marriage, you’d think he’d recognize that look of blind panic on my face! ;-)

    • says

      Every introvert, and extravert, and any kind of human at all, has the right to be different than the norm for their personality type. I’m an introvert who loves to talk in class and loves to go to small groups and likes being alone in crowds and takes enjoyment in being noticed and applauded and never hated Sunday School and VBS and other things introverted children are supposed to hate. It doesn’t make me any less an introvert.

      • savannagramma says

        Me too Christy! My husband and I are both introverts but sometimes people are surprised to learn that I am really an introvert. Being a little of both would be”ambivert”. Years ago my husband became an elder in the small fellowship church we attended. We met in Bible College, both wanting to serve the Lord, but neither of us felt called to pastor a church. I am a deep thinker and I enjoy the intellectual stimulation of class discussions and small group Bible study because I am always interested in learning and growing. The trouble was because I spend so much time alone with my thoughts, I sometimes ended up talking too much in our women’s groups and the Pastor’s wives basically shut me down telling me “I talk too much”. You know, some people just tend to jabber when they feel nervous. You’re expected to talk and share in small groups and I was young, then, in my 20′s and just looking to find a place of acceptance. It really hurt me that they couldn’t look past my faults to see my heart and help me grow in love. Yet many times I would hear comments about how something I shared really ministered to someone. The senior Pastors wife took me aside one time and told me I have so much of the Word in me that I just needed to learn to dish it out in smaller bites as it could be too much for others to take in all at once. Other kinds of interactions tended to petrify me- I remember one time tho’ we were expected to be thrust into a social situation I was completely uncomfortable with and I just couldn’t do it and my husband had to go to the dinner without me. Later I learned to better handle sitting at a table with complete strangers and being ok with it. so we can live and learn and grow too.
        Anyway the point of this post is that I never had a problem, talking to groups, or leading women’s retreats and I enjoyed getting creative in children’s ministry and creating camp programs VBS type stuff and all. The way they do things today tho’ they think they have to be so LOUD with the music and commotion. I’m older now and can’t take much commotion anymore. I’m even drained after all the grandkids get together and it takes me longer to recupe. when you add things like chronic fatigue from stuff like fibromyalgia or MS it just compounds the problem.
        I heard a sermon by Bill Hybels some years ago talking about the pathways people find that make them feel closest to God — for some it is the social aspect of getting together with a community of believers [extroverts] for some it is music, for me it is nature,and music and contemplation. I learned it is ok to be a contemplative. As a protestant I never understood the monastic life or how that could be a way of serving Christ– it always seemed to be to be copping out on the world, somehow. But now, I get it. It is an introvert’s dream. Contemplatives can commune with God and study on their own and write their insights which can be passed on to bless others and that too,is a ministry. So is a life dedicated to intercessory prayer. we all have differing gifts and should not be made to feel guilty if we don’t do things exactly like everyone else.
        As for the way people do “church” these days – there’s nothing in the Bible that says you have to do it that way. Read George Barna and Frank [I forgot his last name - sorry Frank!] book, “Pagan Christianity”. After years of trying to serve God in churches the way the extroverts think you have to — I finally decided to quit playing that game. I always wanted to connect with others on a deeper spiritual level, where you can share your souls in the love of God. when it happens, its beautiful, but sadly too often things tend to remain on such a superficial level and I’ve ended up being hurt too many times. I just feel like I got chewed up and spit out and I don’t have the heart to go back for more of the same.

  42. Deb says

    I am an introvert and the wife of a pastor (who is VERY extroverted). Many years ago I was told that God cannot use me because I am an introvert. While I emphatically do not believe that to be true, I really struggle with my role as a pastor’s wife. The most awkward time of my week is right after our worship service ends when everyone stands around talking. I feel like I should be greeting and getting to know visitors and others I do not know, but this is very difficult for me. I often just escape and go read in the car until my husband is finished. I think some do think I am stuck-up; many have commented how different I am once they get to know me than they first thought. My husband would love to do more entertaining, but he is very accepting of where I am and understands how exhausting it is for me.

    I do agree that introverted men are viewed very differently. No one thinks it’s odd when a man does not readily engage or stands in the background while his wife talks to people.

    • Heather says

      I am also married to an extroverted pastor. On top of that, he worked at the church several years before we got married, so everyone knows and loves him – but I often feel invisible. I’m torn, because I would love to have some friends I could chat with after the service (a miserable time for me to – I flee to the preschool room where I teach!) but it is soooo daunting to have a huge room full of people with no idea of how to begin the conversation! There have been several times when people whom I know are guests are sitting next to me and I agonize over knowing I should say something but being paralyzed by fear. My husband is supportive and tries to help me out when he can. He really wants to understand why social situations are so difficult for me and to help me – but he recently admitted that it really just doesn’t make sense for him. He gently pushes me when he feels it wise, encourages me when I want to give up, and respects that I need time to refuel.

      • says

        @Heather: Does your husband like science? If you do some research on the scientific background, the neurology and chemistry, of the differences between introverts and extraverts, it might help him get more of a grasp on it. Not to mention that it’s just entirely fascinating and clarifying.

  43. Aislinn says

    I know I’ve certainly been perceived as standoffish and stuck up before because of my introversion! I am an introvert, but I really love socializing with people that I know well and trust. With my marriage two years ago to my gregarious, extroverted husband who easily makes friends (and is the pastor’s son at our home church–so he knows everyone or at least everyone knows us!), I think I’m more comfortable now asking questions in conversation instead of just answering questions other people ask of me; I’m still working on this one, though. I know it’s a way I can serve others by actively being interested in their lives, so I’m happy to grow in this way. One of the harder aspects for me is that my husband easily makes friends and many of our friendships turn out to be with other young, married couples. It hurts a little–I think for both of us–to see his friendships with the men deepen at a much much faster rate than my friendships with the women. We’re currently serving as missionaries in Asia, so I’ve had to consider lately what aspects of my personality are sin and what aspects mean I just need to find different ways of ministering than my husband. We’re home for a month right now, and it’s such a relief to be with our families and friends who know us and love us. I would love a copy of the book

  44. says

    Adam, I found your book through Emily a few weeks ago and I’m reading it right now! It has been incredibly helpful–especially the sections on leadership.

    There’s a story I’m sure you know in the gospels about a man who has a visitor come late at night. He has no food in his house to share. So he goes to bang on his neighbor’s door and ask for bread. He uses this freeing phrase, “I have nothing.” Jesus turns that story into an illustration of how if even a grumpy neighbor will hand over a loaf of bread at midnight then our Heavenly Father will meet our needs even more so. As in introvert (INFJ), I’ve learned to pray the “I’ve got nothing” prayer a lot. I had guests I love stay at my house last week and company is exhausting for me much of the time. I just kept praying over and over, “I have nothing for them, Jesus. Please love them through me.” And, somehow, He did. Then I took a long nap and did quite a bit of writing. :)

    It’s freeing to know that loving others is not a one-size-fits-all commandment. It looks different for each of us, introvert or extrovert.

    I will be adding many of your strategies and ideas from the book to my introvert toolbox. Thank again!
    Holley Gerth´s last blog post ..When You Want to Hurry

  45. Michelle says

    I want to echo the sentiment that’s come up over and over in the comments. It’s exhausting. And I’ve spent so many years feeling guilty at how much I don’t enjoy (avoid) the things that are offered to women: Mops, Retreats, Teas, Bible Studies that are really less about study and more about socializing…the list goes on and on). My husband and kids are introverts too but I think on the spectrum I’m a “stronger” introvert. We had a houseguest recently stay with us for 4 days. Not even an hour after she left our house my husband wanted me to get in the car and go to a big party. I liked the people at the party but just felt completely drained. Finally I just looked at my husband and said “My introvert is showing.” And he understood 100%. Life can be exhausting as an introvert if I can’t get consistent time to myself everyday. It’s taken a long time to understand that I’m wired like that and it’s ok. :)

  46. Wanda says

    I am an extrovert-wanna-be but very much an introvert to the core. I find myself in a constant internal tug-of-war desiring to be so much more for my husband and children, but feeling completely lost and unable to make that change and always coming back to the introvert I have always been.

    The Lord placed me in a management position in a hospital before I became a full-time mother and also placed me in a music ministry position (very much a gift…nothing I had any formal training in) that afforded me opportunities to be a featured vocalist in church, at weddings, etc. Somehow I could step out of my introversion for those very extroveted roles but out of the spotlight, on a social leveI, I was very much an isolating introvert. I can only describe it as flipping a light switch, like night and day and the only explanation I can give is that perhaps I hid behind some level of confidence in those career and ministry opportunities while on the social level, I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to just be me?

    I married an amazing man who is a sales consultant, very good at what he does, always connecting with people. He was Chairman of Trustees at the church we attend; he has led many men’s groups in bible study and outreach events. He eventually became an Elder…on any given Sunday, even as I stand beside him in church circles, I FEEL INVISIBLE as church leadership and other church members acknowledge him and somehow look past me. With conversations going on all around me, it is rare that I find myself engaged with anyone in conversation even though we have attended there for almost 12 years.

    I stopped attending Ladie’s events because I would typically find myself very alone in a large group of women who engaged in conversation all around me but none of the conversations included me.

    I can totally relate to those who posted previously who describe their experiences as exhausting. I want so much to just accept who I am and how I am, and recognize that there is freedom in being the me He created me to be and that is enough.

  47. Chris says

    I struggle a lot with this. I’m an introvert, married to an extrovert. And we recently moved back to my husband’s hometown, where he already knows at least half of the people. There are a lot of other new people here, otherwise he would know almost everyone! I envy those of you whose husbands understand you; mine doesn’t. Even HE thinks I’m being stuck-up and self-absorbed when I don’t want to go to every event the church hosts, or the weekly “hamburgers in the park” night.

    I’m trying to break into the established groups around here, but with little success. It is emotionally exhausting for me to spend time in large groups of people I don’t know, especially when we have nothing in common. I’m a southern city girl, and we live in out in the country, near tiny towns in North Dakota. I homeschool my children, and everyone I know here utilizes the public school system. I wanted to join a homeschool group this past school year, but I was too afraid to ever do it.

    That first step is always the hardest. And the ones that come after it aren’t much easier.

    • says

      Hi Chris – do you live in Elgin? That’s the only place I’ve ever heard of having “hamburgers in the park”, during the summer. I grew up around there and can tell you that it will be very difficult for you as an “outsider” to reach into their little community. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that they don’t like “different” or “change” in any form. But one tip I can give is that if you reach out to them with the approach of, “I want to be more like you (and fit in)”, they will probably welcome you more readily (esp. re: homeschool). Admittedly, being a southern city homeschooler is going to be a challenge there! (Do they even have a homeschool group in that area? If so, do take advantage of it because then you’ll know you’re around more like-minded people in at least the area of homeschooling!)

      Does it help that there are so few people that live there, in comparison to the city you came from in the South? Having now spent some time away from there for a while, in going back to visit I feel like I have a much better handle on the situation than before. The “crowds” aren’t as big as I remember them to be, because I’m now able to handle larger crowds from my experience in cities. There are really not that many outwardly dominating personalities in that area to be put off by, which should help.

      Remind your hubby that this already feels like home to him because he grew up there, and for you to feel at home will naturally take more time (regardless of how outgoing you are). He might be wanting to relive “the good old days” and finding that life doesn’t work that way. Remind him that you’re still getting settled and that you will step out to meet people on your own time frame… and that he just has to learn patience! (Ok maybe don’t say that last part.)
      ~MJ´s last blog post ..iPad cover case, navy blue with yellow stripes by CraftRabbits

  48. says

    The introverted woman in church is often overlooked for the few & far between women’s leadership opportunities that come available in church. If she has leadership skills, even though introverted, she must become creative and find ways to lead in non-typical fashion, that still allow the chance to use her gifting.
    Claygirlsings´s last blog post ..Grace: A Gift for Easter & Every Day

  49. Melissa says

    I agree with everyone who said that it is exhausting. I try to force myself to be extroverted (I like the costume analogy above), and it wears me out. I also feel like no one really knows me, like I don’t have any deep friendships.

  50. Ella NYC says

    I’m a small group leader, I know a LOT of people in my large church, I’m often among the last people to leave the coffee hour, and when my parents visited, everybody told them they loved me and couldn’t imagine the church without me.

    And I’m an introvert.

    According to this article, that’s a blatant contradiction. I think there’s some confusion here about the definition of introversion/extraversion. It’s about the source of your energy, which is either external or internal, and mine is definitely internal. OK, fine, perhaps I’m 75% introvert and 25% extrovert. A lot of people that I only know superficially probably think I’m an extrovert. But for my close friends, there is no question as to whether I’m an introvert or an extravert.

    What’s the secret?

    Most importantly, know your limits. Limit the amount of social activities you attend, so you can be at your most social for them. If your job involves a lot of interaction with people, you probably want to limit the amount of weekday activities you attend.
    My job is in research, so often the socials in the evening are the only interactions with people I’ll have during the day. But on days I teach or have meetings, I can’t be as social in other areas.
    Schedule plenty of alone time during the weekend. It’s much easier to be social at church coffee hour and lunch when you know you’ll have the rest of the day to be by yourself. I’m single, so that makes it easier to be completely by myself, but if you have a loving spouse, s/he will understand your need to be alone.

    Other hints:
    - think about questions you can ask. This is something you can do in advance, during your introverted alone time… Questions are good conversation starters, and all you need to do is listen for the answer – especially when dealing with an extravert.
    - you might not talk as much, but observe a lot more. Ask thoughtful questions, let the other person talk. People, especially extraverts, want a platform, they want to vent, have the feeling they are heard. If you are that platform, people are not going to perceive you as stand-offish.
    - another thing that works well is to connect people to each other. I often remember that person A is interested in x, as is person B, and they might not know it of each other. Boom! They can do the talking, and you can listen. Listening requires less energy than talking…
    - remember to nod and to smile or frown and sometimes ask a follow-up question. It’ll make it less obvious that you don’t talk as much.
    - public speaking requires less energy than private conversations. If you don’t believe it, try it out. Some of the best public speakers and preachers out there are introverts. Women who are in churches that don’t allow them to have public speaking roles are perhaps at a disadvantage here…
    - find good friends who are also introverts, and with whom you can be alone together.

    There is a difference between introversion and not being interested in what the other person has to say. In fact, I would say that more extraverted people are not interested in what the other person has to say… I often leave parties not having shared anything about myself, because I’m not the person who’s going to talk a lot about what’s going on with me without people asking me questions first. It doesn’t mean I didn’t talk to anyone – I just asked them questions, and they didn’t return them. Usually I’m actually quite OK about not having shared too much, but it makes me wonder if the ideal of the extraverted, gregariously talking woman is actually so ideal.

    Introverted women, don’t despair: the church needs you! So many people come to events needing to vent something, or connect with someone, and you can be that person just by asking a simple question.
    Extraverted women, don’t write someone off as stand-offish just because they don’t interrupt your conversation by starting to tell you all about themselves. Just continue your story, look for small signs that signify your interlocutor is listening (smiles, nodding, frowning…). And perhaps every once in a while you could ask a question as well, and truly listen to the answer… Warning: introverts will stop talking when you interrupt with your own story, because they think it’s way easier to just listen to yours rather than having to make you interested in their story. So hold your tongue until they finish their story, and ask a follow-up question if you want to hear them talk more, rather than immediately responding with your own story.

    • KimiG says

      I loved this post and all the comments. This was the post most helpful to me. As an introvert, I WANT to explore relationships and situations but don’t really know how or go home feeling left out. Thinking back to my most successful outings, it was when I did this very thing. I would be interested in some your questions, for an example.

    • says

      Love this Ella! I heard a quote once that describes me so well. “People that don’t know me think I’m quiet. My friends wish I was.” I’m not like some women here who have said they’re afraid to talk to new people, I’m just not the kind of person to come into a group and start talking or ask to join in with what they’re doing. (And I’m still a teenager, so as I’ve been getting out more, I’m finding myself in those situations a lot.) It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I feel really shy doing that. And conversing with people is great! if they’re my best friends that is. others? I’d like to talk to them and make them feel comfortable, I just can’t think of anything to say! With an extroverted person, it seems like the extrovert in me is drawn out easily and we can talk and talk and talk! But then when I meet another quiet person that has no clue what to say? can we say, “awkward silence!” I go to a very small church(only two youth girls besides my sis and I) and one of the girls is very introverted. And let me tell you, it is hard to carry a conversation with her. But we’ve gotten to the point where we can talk if we have something to talk about, we have fun together, and we’re comfortable being quiet together too. we probably won’t be going out to chat over coffee anytime soon though. :)

      To the introvert women here, may I gently and humbly suggest that sometimes the reason we’re accused of being selfish or snobbish is because(Gulp! dare I say it?) we are? Ladies, who is our concern and love for? Is it for the lonely young mom who is also introverted and is too shy to do anything but stand quietly with her husband, or is it for the discomfort we may feel by reaching out and trying to engage her? We can get so busy worrying about what we’ll say and how we can say it and if we’ll be able to carry a conversation, and become so self-focused that we don’t think about what she might be going through with her teething baby and 2 year old, or whatever the case may be. As Christians, our first priority is to love. Not ourselves, but others. Introversion is not an excuse to avoid loving. Lets not use it that way. Lets put others first, even when we’re shy.

      • Sarah says

        Wow Tanya,
        Leave it to the teenager to have the most poignant and insightful comment I’ve read yet in all these comments! You are so right that we get so caught up in our own discomfort and don’t think of the other person, that *part* of what we like to pass off as a personality difference is really just self-absorption and self-consciousness.

        The suggestions of just asking people questions are so right. It seems so easy, and can be. I’ve never been good at this because #1 my memory is terrible, and the “how is your mom’s knee healing?” doesn’t come to me because, although I truly cared and listened when someone told me about her mom, I just don’t remember. #2, I think it must be something about introversion, I get that deer-in-headlights mind shut-down when I need to start (or continue) a conversation. What question to ask?

        What could be helpful in this situation is to say, “Tell me about…(how the kids are, life, how the job is going)” – something super general. I always feel like this is too general, especially for a closer friend, but when I think of how it would sound if she asked me the same question, it sounds fine.

        I’ve also found, for meeting church people I don’t know, saying “I don’t remember if I’ve met you. Have you been at (name of church) for a while?” And then the basic questions: do you live close by? Do you have kids? What do you do/where do you go to school? I always feel like these are such trite questions, but they do the trick, and the other person doesn’t examine your questions.

        I’m definitely an introvert, but strangely enough I love entertaining at my home – the decorating, cooking, preparing, and thinking about the event afterwards. I’m behind the scenes at my own parties, and I’m thankful that my pastor husband can be the gregarious conversationalist! But it drives me crazy when someone starts talking to me and asking me questions while I’m cooking, setting up, etc. because I forget what I’m doing!

        So glad to know there are other struggling, introverted pastors’ wives!

  51. DA says

    To be honest, people think I’m an extrovert because I’m a teacher. And because I moved from east coast to west coast and then to other countries. Add another culture into that (My marriage is cross-cultural) and living in a big city and there is a real sense in which I live life on the edge of exhaustion. I used to be with a mission agency but when I left and married cross-culturally the church stepped back. Unless I create and maintain the connections, there aren’t any. With the churches that used to support me in the states and with the church here. I just got tired and said never mind. My only importance is when I give something and being a foreign worker was kind of extroverted because I spoke at churches, bible studies, etc. Now that has all changed and reading these posts brings both clarity and sadness. I feel quite rejected in general by the church.

  52. says

    I am not sure what I am.
    I think extroverts naturally communicate more which makes them leaders by default. It is hard to follow someone who does not really communicate.
    I also think that extroverts who come into a room “mouth first” do the whole church a disservice. I am interested in learning more about this topic. :)

  53. AmyC says

    I AM an introvert. I am not one to get out and ‘chat’ w/ the other moms at preschool/school. I am not one to be the 1st to walk up to someone and start a convo. Had my neighbor not knocked on my door when my youngest was 3 days old and invited me to a moms group – I would not kno any of them. I wouldnt.
    I dont like large crowds. Lots of noise.
    I too am married to an extrovert and we have birthed 2 extroverts altho our oldest has a few introvert characteristics, still they are both (all 3 including hubs) social butterflies.
    I am not one to start talking about myself – IF you want to kno something you are going to have to ask.

  54. says

    oh this is so so good! I recently went on a womens retreat. Something introverts cringe at a bit. But expected of church leadership! I was rooming with two complete extroverts (also two of my best friends!) When I would sneak out of the room at 6am to go fill up on my alone time one chimed in “don’t worry Katchen isn’t being rude or doesn’t want to hang, she is an introvert and needs that time otherwise she won’t be able to hang out later.” It was so nice to be known but also truth was spoken. I like how being a people person is not limited to being extroverted. I LOVE people but prefer one on one. I love having new people to my home, but cringe in a room full of “newcomers” to welcome into church. I think that many secret leaders are cast away because of this. The church needs discernment and not personality test to define this.

  55. says

    One challenge of being an introverted woman is developing the deep friendships that we all probably need. I’m not very chatty, so it takes work for others to stick around and get to know me. Your description of extroverts is helpful to me. I can better understand that just like I can’t change how God made me, extroverts can’t suddenly become like me either.

  56. says

    exhausting, frustrating, awkward, makes me want to be invisible most of the times.

    my husband is an extrovert so i hide behind him, but when he’s not there, or if he’s busy chatting with someone else which is usually the case, it is awkward.

    i avoid those situations as much as i could help it, but i’m also torn because i want to reach out to more. so i try really, really hard, for it seems like the christian thing to do to be amiable and talk to people. then it takes me a day or two to recover. each time.
    flo´s last blog post ..what makes me smile v.4

  57. Jeannie S says

    It feels like I am invisible, that I don’t matter and don’t count. Finding out the hard way when you pretend to be extroverted and jump in and do things you just get hurt by grown women who seem to have never gotten out of junior high emotionally. I have pretty much had it with the women who have to control others. I go to church keep my head down and go home. There is no fellowship there for me.

    • says

      Jeannie, your comment made my heart hurt. I, too, have dealt with some very immature women, but I’ve also found some really fabulous and supportive ones in the most unexpected places. I will be praying that you will also find someone to connect with, but, above all, I will ask God to fill you with His peace and the pleasure of His intimate presence.
      Marie´s last blog post ..Expanding the Definition

      • Jeannie S says

        Thank you Marie, you are very sweet. I haven’t given up, just praying for a miracle! I’m so glad you have some great women in your life, it gives me hope! Be blessed!

  58. Mel says

    There is nothing comfortable about walking into a room of people where I may or may not know someone. Even with my husband by my side, I find it awkward. I used to avoid those situations as much as I could and would even show up late in order to avoid the social time before a function or Bible study. I began to realize how self-protective that was and how little I was trusting God. I now do a lot of talking with God and a lot of talking to myself before going to group functions. I bathe myself in the truths of who God says I am and remind myself that I am not alone- God is with me. I seek to love others more than wanting to feel loved in return, I encourage myself to step outside of my comfort and take some risks, and I remind myself that there is a spiritual battle going on and to not let the uncomfortable feelings that occur keep me from attending or keep me from talking.

  59. Tracy says

    Deacon’s wife, homeschooling my children, behind the scenes, behind the scenes, behind the scenes…… My husband has always been my voice, but it gets frustrating being seen as the “quiet one”, while everyone oohs and aahhhs over your “husband’s” ideas and opinions. “Wait, that was my idea!!! I’m the one who came up with that! I just told him my opinion of that last week!! It was ME!!!” But alas, I am invisible, I am unheard, I am overlooked, and to top it all off, I come across as “stuck-up”!!! I do not want to be jealous, or resentful. I just know who I am, but I feel as though I’m full of things to say, just no courage to say them. I know that through my husband all my insights are well received, but I’m not well received. But would I be if I spoke up??? I would love to get a copy of this book, it is on my wish list on Amazon.

  60. Ashley says

    I am introverted. People initially mistake me for an extrovert because I can be cheerful and expressive – but the real deal is that being around a lot of people feels draining to me and I don’t feel able to focus my attention in socially demanding situations. I enjoy being introverted – I feel that I’m able to be focused and sincere when I’m face-to-face with someone, I’m able to recognize when a situation may leave others feeling on the fringe. Still, most “women’s ministry” events tend to be the most difficult for me… the extroverted women know and find one another and have overtly pleasant conversations; the introverted women often get pity-introductions from people but no real opportunity to connect comfortably – and be remembered. That’s the thing – at the next event I feel forgotten, like I’m socially starting from scratch. This changes only when I find that I truly “belong” and have at least a friend or two who truly value my introverted nature and want me to be there.

    My husband and I met in a post-grad church program that basically “gave” us our friends – we’ve remained a part of that church community after the program, going on four years. But we’re set to move this Fall and will have to start all over – no program peers in place, no church activities scheduled for us. We’re excited for the adventure – but we’re both introverted and know it may be a challenge to find a new church, new community, new sense of “belonging” and being “valued”.

    A copy of your book, Adam, would be an amazing gift – and encouragement – as my husband and I prepare for our next steps! Thank you!

  61. Amy says

    Wow – so many thoughts flooding my head I don’t think my hands can type fast enough. And the comments too — a big, quiet hello to all my introverted sisters! You speak to my soul as well. I glanced at one that said, “It’s like high school all over again.” I can’t tell you how many times I have thought that same thing when I have to deal with group dynamics!

    I am an introvert married to an even more introverted introvert. So first I want to say that yes, I do think there is a difference for introversion between men and women. When you described the strong, silent male – bingo. You are spot on with who my husband is and how I think he is perceived by others. Of course, he has a hard time believing he’s perceived that way (as STRONG and silent – he thinks silent is wimpy). Because even for men, the more extroverted the better. It’s not just church, it’s society on the whole (I think) that values the extrovert more. The church is a reflection of that. And yes, I have had women, good friends even, tell me that before they got to know me they thought I was stuck-up because I was quiet. Oh my, the opposite could not be more true! Now that I’m a bit older (past 35) I do get women who tell me they think I’m wise. But, like my husband, I have a hard time accepting that. I think they think that because I don’t talk a lot. It makes your words seem more weighted when you do. And maybe they are, I don’t know. But I think that is part of what exhausts introverts about people. You spend so much time listening to people. Genuinely listening. But then you usually don’t get people to stay around long enough or get quiet enough to listen to you.

    I too agree that the church is geared more toward extroverts than introverts I can tell you a couple of my more recent experiences. I was on a small committee to explore mentoring in our church. There were four of us. And as we talked about what we thought mentoring should look like, I felt that I was the only one who described it and saw it as a one-on-one, long term relationship. And that it wasn’t as simple as finding someone and saying “I want to mentor you” or “I want you to mentor me” – that there needed to be a foundation there. An opportunity to first know the person a bit. And then have it grow over time as a relational ministry. The other three on the committee were all extroverts and they saw it as a group thing – 2,3,4 – jump in and do it for a short period of time (6 months, a year) then send them out to do the same. There is nothing wrong with that version either, absolutely nothing wrong with it. Obviously that is a way of making disciples. But I felt dismissed. And when I tried to tell them I was just not comfortable walking up to 2 or 3 people I didn’t know, or getting “matched up” with them (I tried to emphasize the one-on-one again) there were glazed looks and then kind of a “just buck up and do it” response. I felt stupid and that my faith was not as great, as though I was somehow less spiritual than these others because I couldn’t do it the way they were comfortable doing it. And since there were pastors among the group it was intimidating.

    More recently, our church has started a small group ministry. They are supposed to help us grow community in a more intimate setting. However intimate is clearly not defined by everyone the same way. The mark of extrovert is all over it – we are encouraged to invite others to be a part of it, especially non-believers (this I have no problem with except that it was supposed be done immediately upon forming); the group should grow as big as possible and then people should split of into other groups; we should be sharing our lives regardless of how comfortable we feel with the people in the group or how well we know them – we need to be vulnerable and just accept that things may not be kept confidential and we will get hurt (yes, this was actually said). This is how we take the gospel to others! So if I’m uncomfortable with this and it makes me want to hyperventilate what does that say about me? If I want to grow intimate community by starting small and getting to know the others in the group, building that relationship enough that I then feel comfortable sharing my real self, my deep hurts and concerns, the open wounds, does that make me a bad person? A faithless Christian? I realize any group situation is going to push me out of my comfort zone at one time or another, but can’t there be a middle ground? And yes, of course the group should grow and we want non-believers to come in and hear the gospel and be saved. But I can’t get my head around this priority of more and more people = growing intimate community.

    Sometimes I do want to be alone – it is a need to refresh recharge. Even as an introvert, as a woman I crave relationship. But relationship, to me, is not how many women can I talk to before I leave the church parking lot, or how many parties can I throw or attend, or how many women can I get to a bible study. I want to spend time with women, one-on-one or in small groups (3 to 4 people). Quiet enough that everyone can be heard. I want to get to know others in a real way, and I want women to get to know me. Yes, I WANT people to get to know me, the real me. I’m tired of feeling unknown. And I’m tired of feeling bad for wanting that in small numbers.

    • says

      “Yes, I WANT people to get to know me, the real me. I’m tired of feeling unknown. And I’m tired of feeling bad for wanting that in small numbers.” <–THIS

      I feel you, sister. I attend a fairly small church (around 400 members or so, probably less attend church regularly) and even with so few members, I feel it's hard to connect with others. The few times I have tried to talk to other women, I've gotten interrupted answering THEIR questions so I just sort of stopped talking. The quickest way to hush an introvert is to interrupt them and it bothered me that I was interrupted answering questions that she asked me. It felt like she didn't care to hear the answers. We are in a rebuilding process of our church too, so we don't really have a women's ministry right now. I so crave relationship with other women. I am so lonely, as two of my best friends have moved out of state in the past few years. I am not really close to anyone my age or stage of life and it doesn't help that I work outside the home (I have a 2-year-old son and most of the moms at my church are SAHMs). I did work with our youth for awhile until I had my son but that was sort of awkward too because I had no idea how to start a conversation with someone 15 years younger than me.
      Leann´s last blog post ..Study on 1 Peter

  62. says

    I would have to say that I’m not sure…yet.
    I feel like recently, I have heard so many great encouragements to introverts and finally am giving myself permission to come out of the introvert-closet. I have been social (especially at church), since I was in junior high…and it’s been exhausting, every step of the way. So, now as I have read a few of Adam’s posts on different blogs, and I look forward to reading his book (and I think it will really bless my husband too who is far more introverted than me). And I watched a Ted Talk the other day by Susan Cain on the power of the introvert (http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html), I’m feeling more and more freedom to learn what it means to live out my God-created introvert self (with a side of extrovert), and live out His love in the way I am created to!

  63. says

    I recently reconnected on Facebook with a childhood friend & neighbor. She said to me,

    ” The main thing I remember about you is, you had a hard time getting your opinion heard.. And you had a very big voice, for such a tiny body, and you would finally scream, “YA’LL SHUT UP AND LET ME TALK!”

    I was so startled to hear that, as I’ve felt that recurring theme my entire life, that people don’t listen to me. Of course, the setting of her memory was from a small group of people who I knew well (my sibling & hers), so the shyness wasn’t there, as I’ve always felt comfortable among close family & people I know well. Clearly, now as an adult, I can’t go around screaming at people to shut up and let me talk. ;-)

    I grew up always thinking (but never saying out loud) that I was some kind of freak, because I couldn’t speak up. I was sexually abused by male relatives (on several occasions), yet I never told my parents, or my babysitter (my grandmother). I look back and wonder, “WHY” didn’t I say something?

    I’ve always formed attachments with extroverts, as it would take an extrovert to bring me out of my shell. Once I get to know a person well, I begin to feel at ease enough to speak.

    When I was 3 years old, my Sunday School teacher, who’d had me in her class for a year, asked my mom if I’d been born mute. She seriously thought I was unable to speak, as I’d never uttered a sound in her class. My mom made the financial sacrifice to enroll me in dance class when I was about 4 or 5, but finally withdrew me, because I’d never leave the wall at the edge of the classroom.

    Granted, I do think the chaotic & dysfunctional home life (alcoholic father who abused my mother), combined with my natural introvert tendencies, made for a super introvert.

    I’m not nearly as introverted now as I was when I was young. I find, that the more I discover who I am in Christ Jesus, the more my confidence level grows. I’m not at all afraid to speak in front of groups or strangers (though I used to be!). My biggest aversion to my introversion is the lack of having the gift of gab. I would love to be able to “chat up”, as the British put it, with strangers. Paired with another introvert in a one-on-one situation, very little talking goes on, unless they’re a christian who likes talking about God. I find I have plenty to say on that subject! ;-)

    Attending church had always been a painful and awkward occurrence for me until we began attending a small church several years ago. Of course, it was very uncomfortable for me at first, but having a very extroverted husband helps ease me into friendships. I now feel very comfortable with my church family.

    One of the greatest things that has helped me, as an introvert, is learning about the temperament theory, the brainchild of Hippocrates. I read a book many years ago, titled “Why You Act The Way You Do”, by Tim LaHaye. It’s a very thorough description of the 4 basic temperaments. When I read that, I realized, probably the first time ever, that I’m the way I am because this is how God created me to be. Naturally, environment, family dynamics, my birth order position, and even my sex, all contribute to my personality, but the bottom line is, God created me as an introvert. With that knowledge, and the knowledge of the strengths & weaknesses that accompany my temperament, I am able to accept who I am, but still work on my weaknesses. As I learn to be more led of the Holy Spirit in my daily life, I become less disabled by the weaknesses of my temperament.

    I’m sorry to have written a small novel here. I always get carried away with this fascinating subject. I loved reading the responses ahead of mine. :-)
    Renna´s last blog post ..Autumn, Season of My Heart

  64. Shannon McKemie says

    I’m an introvert and struggle with my place in the church and ministry settings. Group gatherings are always exhausting and bothers me to never get past the small talk and into the really deep stuff of the heart. Then, those that have asked about meeting up one on one–it never seems to go through. As a single introverted woman; I see how the extraverted Christian woman is placed on the pedestal and feels like I can never meet that standard.

  65. Allyson says

    I’ve read your book, Adam, and honestly it made alot f things make sense (that I hadn’t connected with me being an introvert although I have known that’s my personality type for a long time now). Since I can remember, I’ve always be labeled as standoffish or stuck up, especially within female groups. Because some really great friends and I have discussed this, I know that’s what they thought of me before they knew me. And it came down to the fact that I didn’t walk into a room and feel the need to “work the crowd.” I still don’t feel the need, but I tend to go out of my way to be more friendly and to smile alot because of knowing how my quietness can be construed.

    But to answer your question directly, I agree with what the majority fo women have said here. To be a female introvert in church and other social circles is just exhausting. I feel as if there is pressure to take the leadership, up-front, visible jobs or roles because only those are deemed to have much meaning. I’m constantly feeling pushed into these roles, and if I decline or (heaven forbid) resign from one, it’s assumed I’m not committed or that I’m lazy. Neither of those are true, but I am learning where God is calling me and who He has designed me to be….and who I’m not!

  66. says

    Wow! As an older woman, who has worked through most of these issues and left them far behind, reading this post and the comments makes my heart hurt for these young women. So much exhaustion. So much pain! So many women trying to be something they believe they should be in the church, in their homes and in society…when the only real requirement is to be IN Christ.
    In him is fullness of joy. The very word Christ-ian (Christ like) has the answer so many wounded souls are crying out for. I wonder how you would describe Jesus? Leader? Speaker? Exhausted? Introvert? Extrovert?
    Over many years the Holy Spirit has taken away the wounds inflicted by unthinking, uncaring religious church goers and taught me to follow Jesus’ example: be who God made me, give love and support where possible, remember not everyone wants to be helped; don’t take criticism personally, Jesus didn’t; and most importantly, go away to a quite place for communion with the Father whenever possible.
    God made each woman, and man, differently. It’s okay to be the person He made you to be.
    Nana Ellen´s last blog post ..nanaellen: Summer grillin’ – tri-tip Nana style : http://t.co/JDtmDwm6

  67. Ev says

    I am an introvert. There I said it out loud where other people can see it. Despite that I was a worship leader for years, but because of my personality I was very hurt. I am a melancholy person and artistic by nature. I wanted to give God my very best, and worked very hard at leading worship and forgetting that I was deathly afraid of speaking in public and being around people. When my personality was attacked at the end of a church service, out loud, over the PA system, while the enitre congregation was filing out, I crawled back into that shell where just God and I live, and dare say I haven’t crawled out again. I love Jesus. I walk along side the one who sticks closer to a brother but I rarely add things to the conversations that others have. I can happily talk about the things of God, but then my “Christian” scares people off as it did before and I silently go back to my quiet place. I am happy there and I have learned that maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. This morning this post ended up in my box and I really should read this book, and the one by Tim LaHaye! Perhaps there is something that I can learn so I wouldn’t always feel outside of every conversation looking in, or feel that what I have to say would be of no interest to anyone else. Like others, I have always had trouble being heard. Even now at 53, I have trouble being heard in my birth family. I always have had. In fact I used to pack a small bag and run away on a regular basis because I just am not like the rest of them; the ugly duckling in a group of birds who are definitely different than I am. I look at life differently than most people and constantly find myself having to stand up for what I believe is right. I’m not very good at being heard then either. I get called things like odd and weird, and I pretend to laugh it off but inside where I actually live, it hurts. You won’t find me in the back pew. I sit at the front, near the cross where I know someone knows my heart! Praise God that Jesus has already walked in this place!!

  68. says

    Being an introvert makes me feel very lonely at church. I have a circle of close friends but I tend to hide behind the children rather than socialize. I know church is where I can make the best friends but I am too shy and often so busy wrangling young kids that I let those “excuses” keep me from talking to people. I guess I need to stop hiding my kids.

  69. says

    For me, as a young (24-year old), single woman in the church, there is already a certain disconnect. No one knows what to do with me, other than offering to let me hold their babies and trying to set me up with men, or asking me if I’ve considered that I may be called to singleness. In addition to this, I’m a writer, an introvert, someone more comfortable with a few people at a time, warms up slowly, doesn’t share too much too soon. This is all seen as snobbery. In fact, I’ve been told that I seem so “together” so “above it all” that people (even in leadership) don’t feel that they can come close. If they were to come close, which I welcome, as long as it’s not en masse, they would have a chance to understand what I’m going through in life. I am not for public consumption. All this “togetherness” is a mask. I’m scared to be in social situation where I only know a few people, especially large groups. I’ve been hurt by people, I’ve been ignored, I’ve been scarred and rejected. I’m lonely, but I need time to myself. I don’t think that any of this makes me less of a person, less valuable or less relevant.
    Cara´s last blog post ..Shaky Starts

  70. says

    Being not just an extrovert, but an extrovert TO THE MAX, I am totally intrigued and would love to know more about how to love, serve, and relate to my introverted friends. I think introverts are the bees knees!
    Meg´s last blog post ..Cooking Club At Crabtree Farms

    • Karen says

      Step 1: Acknowledge her existence. A bit of eye contact, a smile, a wave.
      Step 2: Offer to start a conversation. Don’t go in guns blazing, gently does it. A simple compliment, a ‘how was your week?’, or ‘it’s good to see you’ is nice. Be interested in her because you want to give her your energy, not take hers away.
      Step 3: Sloooooow down. A big way to show an introvert respect is to give her your full attention – not because you want something from her, but because you want to give something to her in the form of encouragement and affirmation – and let her know that she has it indefinitely. And then when she’s had enough, she’s had enough.
      Step 4a: Respect her decision to refuse the offer for conversation. It doesn’t mean she hates you or that anything is even wrong, her ‘social interaction tank’ might simply be empty.
      Step 4b: If a conversation goes ahead, always let her finish her sentences and stories. Believe that she has something important to say that will enrich your life, but you’re not going to get the full benefit if you interrupt with ‘Oh, I know exactly how you feel, the same thing happened to me last week…’

      At least, that’s what I would appreciate, based mainly off interactions with extroverts that went the exact opposite!

      • says

        That was really a helpful little list. Though I am extroverted, it seems like all my close friends, and my husband are introverts. These are exactly the kinds of things I do (and I appreciate others doing) in relationships.

        Thanks and amen.
        kelli´s last blog post ..To the Mother in the Mirror

    • helvetica says

      Second the not interrupting thing – also, don’t finish sentences or thoughts for them. Half the time people presume you said something that you didn’t intend to say, and introverts don’t feel comfortable correcting people sometimes.

      Don’t try to fix people or “bring them out of their shell” (how I hate that phrase).

      Don’t tease, patronize, or comment on them being smart/quiet/whatever.

  71. Denny Marie says

    Being an introverted woman has been a challenge and a blessing. The blessing first: since I prefer to watch and listen, I often feel more confident in my understanding of other people. I feel blessed with a keen intuition. However, when I engage in conversation much of my energy is now focused on tackling my fear of being in the spotlight, and I am no longer confidently picking up the cues and nuances of those around me. The challenge: making friends. It seems difficult for me to make strong female friendships. Friendships require a mutual commitment and some give and take. If there is a disconnect in one being introvert and the other being extrovert, I often feel the extrovert “takes” more and feels frustrated at “giving” the introvert time to recover from being social. In my experiences, the extroverted friend often requires more time (thus energy) from the introverted person. As an introvert, I always feel like I am letting my extroverted friends down because they “need” more from me than I can easily give. Instead of recognizing introversion as a strength or just a “type of person”, I often feel judged as being selfish with my time, or not a devoted friend. I feel that introverted women are often very loyal friends, but are also often under-appreciated by the more extroverted types.

  72. says

    I love extroverts because I am an introvert. Most extroverts are so welcoming and open and friendly, that the quiet introvert that I am feels most comfortable. We introverts can love and serve like our extrovert counterpart, but it is just a little bit more difficult and uncomfortable. If we are paired up to serve with someone more outgoing then you may have a very successful team. I know that I was drawn toward my friends and my husband because they were extroverts. I don’t know if this answered any questions or created more, but just my 2 cents.
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Survey Question

    • Amy1 says

      I’m the same! I am an introvert and I gravitate toward extroverts for my friendships. It is so much easier. Being with other introverts wears me out. It requires too much tap dancing to keep the conversation going. I need someone who is going to hold up their end of the conversation. While sometimes all that talking can be tiring, extroverts give off a lot of energy and that really helps.

      • says

        this is so true! I have always glommed onto one or two good extroverts that I can trust :) Great analogy about the ‘tap dancing’ in conversations with fellow introverts. Now that I’m in my 30s and I know myself a little better, I give people a head’s up about my personality when we start to get to know one another… that way she knows what to expect of me (don’t like talking on the phone, being around a lot of new people at once, etc).
        jamie´s last blog post ..Saying Goodbye: What I’ll Miss About This House

  73. says

    Oh, when you mentioned MOPS? You hit the nail on the head. I know people have seen my introversion (and shyness on top of it) as me being stand-offish, and I have often looked at women who seem to ease into conversation with anyone and who look forward to getting together with as many people as possible and felt “less.” But, I’ve been learning to see being an introvert as part of God’s creation and my introverted husband and I are both finding a niche in our fellowship as small group leaders and behind the scenes helpers. So we are still investing in relationships and community and being used for God’s purposes, but in a way he designed us to do it. Not by trying to be like other people.
    Emily´s last blog post ..The Good, the Honest, and the Messy

  74. Lisa says

    I am an introvert in an extroverted church, one that encourages outward, audible, visible worship during services. When I feel true, deep down worship, it is such a private and intimate time, that it is not something that I want to display for all to see. Sometimes I think that this is looked on as a lack of spiritual depth or maturity.

  75. says

    When I was in high school and college, I was definitely an extrovert. Social gatherings energized me. Now I am 34, and it seems the older I get, the more introverted I become. So I have had to do some self-examination to figure out what things bring out either side of me, and how to find a good balance in my life. I can be very social in smaller settings. I could talk for hours with a girlfriend if we are one-on-one. But large group settings overwhelm and exhaust me. Ironically though, I am gifted for leadership and have felt God strongly calling me to lead in women’s ministry. But when I lead, I pray for God to give me the strength to be “on”, and I need a lot of quiet, reflective time to recover. It doesn’t always make sense to me why I seem to be getting more introverted as God continues to push me forward in ministry. My suspicion though is that He is using this as a way to remind me that He alone is the source of my strength. If I was still my extroverted self, I think it would be easy to think I can do it all on my own. I also think I am becoming more introverted as my own faith grows. I find that I am often “lost in thought” or in prayer, and making small talk with people feels so much harder than talking with God.
    Marcia´s last blog post ..some thoughts on middle faith

  76. Lisa says

    I am an introvert in an extroverted church, one that encourages outward, audible, visible worship during services. When I feel true, deep down worship, it is such a private and intimate time, that it is not something that I want to display for all to see. Sometimes I think that this is looked on as a lack of spiritual depth or maturity and that I am expected to grow and change and do it the “right” way. This has caused me to withdraw even more from this type of expression of worship because it seems so fake for me to do it, that it is something I am expected to do it to meet others expectations and beliefs about worship.

    • says

      Oh, this comment hits home! I, however, have the opposite problem. While most of the people in my church are very outgoing, they tend to be very reserved in worship. Raising a hand is a BIG DEAL. When I’m singing praise to God, if I let myself truly worship Him, I want to clap, dance, cry, lift my hands. It’s the one time where I don’t feel introverted. I’m afraid of distracting others or looking like I’m putting on a “show,” though, so I find myself trying to fit the mold.
      Marie´s last blog post ..Expanding the Definition

  77. says

    It’s so very true: being an introvert woman gives others the impression of being stuck-up or too proud. It is difficult to find deep friendships when the only way to find them is through large social groups, especially when you are a stay-at-home mommy. You either become resigned to being alone or you dive into a group setting which leaves you feeling exhausted with nothing left for your children.
    Elizabeth´s last blog post ..A Year of Writing

  78. Stephanie says

    I am an introvert that tries to be an extovert. I had to laugh at the comments about hating VBS and dreading the “meet and greet” at the beginning of the service. That is so me. I know that people sometimes label me a “snob” for not being in the center of the chatter. I am more comfortable in small groups or with people that I know. I struggle with feeling inferior and that I am a disaster socially. I volunteer at school and church and am comfortable serving in leadership positions that have specific duties. Give me the notebook and I can do it! (As long as it isn’t asking for donations…complete disaster) I love hosting things but don’t like attending things as much–I am just more comfortable when I have a purpose and not just trying to see who I could possibly talk to. I love my friends and the women at school and in my church. I just hate large social situations.
    I wish that I were more outgoing but I am not. I need my alone-time and crave it when our schedule is packed to the top. I worry sometimes that I am not being all that God intended me to be because I lean toward introvertedness so much. I hate that being introverted bothers me so much. I would not fault someone else for being an introvert and need to be as nice to myself as I would be to someone else.
    Funny that my Pastor commented that he is an introvert and I see him as incredibly extroverted. When he said that I thought, “maybe there is hope for me!”. I wish I didn’t want to be different–it isn’t a thought all the time, just in social situations…ok, maybe lots of the time!

    • helvetica says

      I hate the “meet-and-greet” too!

      Just don’t make eye contact and try to apply chapstick or something. Or just spend a really long time shaking one or two people’s hands. (half kidding here)

  79. says

    This is me in so many ways. I do share a lot of my faith on my sleeve at my blog, but definately not in large groups face to face. It is not easy for me to make new, close friendships. I can definately relate to being thought of as stuck up. I was always told to smile more in High School and I think that is why I smile so much now. I want people to understand that I care and am not stuck up just because I’m quiet. I feel misunderstood at times. As far as introversion goes, it’s funny too, b/c I don’t like to speak in public and I wrote very specific about my struggle with it (a testimony) at a ladies retreat for my church. It’s on my blog and I titled it “I Knew There Was A Reason I Liked to Blog”.

    As an introvert, I love spiritual conversation, but with just one or two more people, in a large group around a table even, it can be very difficult to have all eyes on me. Walking into a big room there is insecurity esp. as to where I will sit and converse with people. Before several social gatherings, I would say a prayer that the Lord would be with me “socially” and you know what? I found out that He loves to answer that prayer. He also has always provided friendships for me, esp. as an adult when it became more difficult. This is how I know our relationships are important to God. In the end, I know God created us all for a very specific purpose to glorify Him and I have to be content as the introvert He made me to be and though I want to be my best for Him, I shouldn’t try to push being an extravert. God makes introverts shine for His glory too.

  80. says

    To answer your question… Hellish. From past experience and in observing others it seems an almost social suicide. I think people often ask, “why did I even bother coming?” In several circumstances I know I’ve felt like – “oooo, I’d so love to be part of this. But how do I wriggle in?” In other instances I observe and think, “whoa, you couldn’t pay me to be part of this.” Perhaps the very reasons for the surge of the women’s blogosphere?? No strings attached. If I’m not a fan I can simply move on. I hear this all the time now. So are we using that excuse to get out of risky real life friendships? I think a lot are. Especially to escape the churchy cliques and the hurt of it all. Breaks my heart as I’m in the role of “Pastor’s wife” now…. And I don’t consider myself the ‘typical’ PW and I feel like I run here and there all over our little church trying to prevent many off-putting personalities from tainting the whole, so to speak. Can’t we all just get along? But no, we can’t. We’re creatures of habit. And habits die hard. Striving for improvement is still always an option though.
    Kerry @ Made For Real´s last blog post ..Just because… (and Bible Study Link)

  81. says

    Adam and Emily,
    First of all, there are many lengthy comments here. This is clearly an issue that has not been thoroughly covered in the western church.

    I, like Emily, am a minister’s wife. And I honestly need to know where this book has been all my years we’ve been in ministry.

    I need to read this one. Need to.

    Blessings to you both.
    Dawn´s last blog post ..I Got Nothing

  82. janet says

    To be an introvert is one thing but to be the pastor’s wife and the introvert is an entirely different thing. I have great difficulty talking to people to begin with but the pastor’s wife (at least in my case) is not seen as someone to be included in conversations or social events. They were all there before I was, have known each other for years and don’t see the necessity of getting to know who I am. I think they all assume that they already have me pegged. It’s exhausting, yes but also disheartening. I do try to always force myself to talk to the ones that I see who seem to be on the outside edge like me. I know how they are feeling.

    • Jen says

      I have totally felt this way where we currently are. We’re about to move to a new church and I hope things are a little different. It’s not quite as insular a community. Here everyone is related, and I’m an outsider in a lot of ways, so it’s hard to find the questions to ask.

      • says

        Ditto, ditto. Same situation. ESP the part about people having you pegged as the pastor’s wife when really they don’t. And many don’t try to get to know. Always a challenge when I feel like I’m investing so much but feeling empty on the return. Exhausting, but as someone so insincerely told me recently (about another issue) “it’s part of (your) job” – with an added ‘live with it’ type of look thrown in for good measure. Ouch. And yes, everyone is related in our church as well. It doesn’t exactly shout WELCOME to outsiders.
        Kerry @ Made For Real´s last blog post ..Connecting

  83. Diane says

    I am an introvert at church, I try to fit in just by being myself which means I am a little stand offish and it’s not them, it’s me. It takes me years to relax around people and just be myself. I seem to have to know you, to trust you before I can let my guard down and just be me. I have a few friends at church, no one comes looking for me not really, if I go looking for them I find myself standing there and no seems to know I am there. I wonder if maybe I am a super hero with powers beyond me…I seem to be invisible at times. When I do get a chance to talk I seem to over react becoming loud sometimes. I think to myself where did that come from, who is this lady? Did God make me this way or did I do this to myself. You know you set these standards for yourself and they govern who you are in certain situations. I am in the box trying to get out.

  84. says

    I am definitely an introvert. People often assume this means that I don’t like them, but that’s far from true. What it does mean is that I find social gatherings exhausting. Even one-on-one time with friends can be draining.

    This, however, does not even begin to define the issue for me within my church circle. The problem is that I am an introvert AND I don’t have children AND don’t like to cook AND couldn’t figure out how to do a “craft” if my life depended on it. Add to all this the fact that I live with CFIDS and struggle with depression, and the reaction usually seems to be, “How impossibly abnormal can you be?!”

    It is certainly a very lonely thing to exist outside the accepted parameters.
    Marie´s last blog post ..Expanding the Definition

  85. Carolyn says

    When I was 11 years old, a friend told me she thought I was a snob when she first met me because I was so quiet. In some ways, I feel like I have been fighting that stereotype ever since. I want to be involved in women’s ministry, and the PTA, and group playdates, etc., and I often fight my instincts just so I can be a part of all these things. At times it is fun and rewarding, but it is almost always exhausting. I would love to read your book!

  86. Emilee says

    I’m definitely an introvert…most of the ladies at my church don’t really know what to do with me because I’m usually the one sitting at the table listening the whole time while they talk…I have a hard time introducing myself to new people, but the people I know I am fine around….at parties/fellowships I’m usually the one sitting off to the side just watching and listening, and thoroughly enjoying myself! Lol :) its funny, the husbands of the more extroverted ladies just look at me like “wow! A woman who doesn’t talk much!” lol!

  87. says

    I used to try to put on that costume … the extroverted, always smiling, mainstream mama … it’s too exhausting. I’m naturally quiet unless I’m comfortable with a person. If I know you well and you know me and we have that kinship that breeds ease, then I can create small talk with the best of them. But put me in the midst of a large group of people and expect me to automatically cozy up and get to know them? It’s a challenge that I struggle to achieve. It’s true, people often perceive me as being self-involved or in your words “stuck up” … in reality, I’m listening and learning and expanding my comfort zone. If I feel I can trust the people around me, I automatically open up. Sometimes it takes longer than at other times. Truth be told, the older I get the less energy I have to fit in. It’s just so much easier to be me … all the time! :)
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..Oh deer

  88. Heather says

    I don’t know if I’m an introvert or a shy extrovert. I crave time with people and long for deep relationships, but find it SO hard to initiate “hang out” time and even harder to call people on the phone. Like seriously, I am terrified of making phone calls. Thus I feel lonely a lot. But I’ve discovered there are others in my church feel the same way, so I’m trying to force myself to invite them to things.

  89. Heather says

    Social situations of any variety are stressful and exhausting, but church situations have the added bonus of guilt! I feel guilty for not being more welcoming of guests, for not participating more, for not sharing my faith with others more, etc. I get nervous asking a stranger their name, much less having enough of a conversation with them to feel comfortable to share my faith! It just occurred to me that perhaps this is the reason sharing my faith is so difficult for me: not only am I talking to someone (challenging enough!) but I am forcing my introverted, very private self to share intimate parts of my life (my spiritual walk) with someone I don’t know very well. I hardly feel comfortable doing that with close friends!
    My husband (an extrovert) and I often joke that my personality is like a turtle. I can poke my head out to engage the world but then I need to retreat and hide inside my shell for a while! He is learning to know when to push me to challenge myself, and when to respect how I am made. It is a continual lesson for us both.

  90. says

    Wow! I can’t believe how much I agree with this post. I had a picture in my mind of the extrovert woman in my congregation and it is so true. The comment of the “extrovert costume” hits the nail on the head! I’ve often been mistaken as a snob or stuck up because I’m not the kind to share all my personal experiences good or bad. I’m happy living my life and enjoying my family and close friends. Sometimes the congregation can be a breeding ground for gossip and I’m not the type to want to be involved so I’m not “in” at all. That’s ok with me because in the end I’m there to praise Jah and he see’s all.

  91. Christena says

    Exhausting is true, but it is not the first word that came to my mind. Awkward is my first word. Just recently I participated in a women’s Bible study at a new church where I knew no one. The actual Bible study was great, but it was the before and after time that was bad – the time when people hang out and make small talk. These moments, along with “everyone stand and shake hands with your neighbor” and Wednesday night meals, and small groups are absolutely excruciating for an introvert. My husband is a classic social butterfly extrovert and I actually think that makes things worse — I always wonder if people are thinking “How can he be married to such a dull girl?” I *hate* to go places with him and he mixes and mingles in the crowd and I am just left hanging…I feel like I should be able to do that too, and I can to an extent, but it is incredibly hard & uncomfortable for me. Another time I feel awkward is during praise & worship. Now, I love to sing & praise God and trust me, the emotion & feeling are in my heart….but I am never going to feel like I need to raise both my hands, throw my head back, and dance to the music. There is nothing wrong with doing that but there is also nothing wrong with NOT doing that.

    I have had positive & negative appraisals of my introverted tendencies. Of course the negative stay with me longer – I have been told that I’m stuck-up, shy, bashful, weird, smug, and flat out that I have a “bad personality.” (Not kidding – and it was a family member!)

    • helvetica says

      Nice – I’ve been called standoffish, aloof, prickly, rotten to the core, mentally ill, snobby, bashful, shy, and once someone even told me that I was so messed up that not even God could fix me!!! (and that was a family member too)

      • Liane says

        Wow. In Jesus’ name I rebuke those lies.

        (don’t mean to be cheesy but just felt a very strong urge to stand up against those descriptors!!)

      • Liane says

        Growing up in a very typical evangelical church, I was completely ostracized during youth group in junior high and high school because I wasn’t loud and cool enough. No wonder that, when I went through a real life crisis during college, I ended up leaving the church instead of finding comfort in it. After a long crisis of faith, I was invited to a church that was way more welcoming and where I feel much more accepted. My current church is completely different than my upbringing and has been very healing for me.

        One thing I struggle with is that while my husband is introverted and definitely needs down time, people automatically put their trust in him because he can talk off the cuff easily and knowledgeably. He is constantly being handed leadership positions that he doesn’t want, but takes on because no one else is doing them. I feel like I have to work twice as hard for people to trust and respect me at work at and church. It is draining to do all that work just to feel on par with the treatment more effusive people are getting.

        All that said, in two of those leadership positions, I have seen my husband’s lack of desire to lead and have stepped in to help him out. I find that co-leading with my husband allows me to have a voice during small group (our “small group” is a huge 20+ members) and the comfort of leading with my husband gives me a step up for speaking my mind when I want to. I do like leading and definitely have skill at organizing people and getting them moving. It was just revealed in a different way! Aaand, if I happen to lead worship, I try to bring in more introspective ways, like reading psalms and reflecting on them, instead of always singing.

        And regardless of my need for inner reflection and alone time, I do love to work the room and talk with lots of people, as long as I have plenty of down time afterwards. It rankles me when people describe me as shy. Not talking as much during a Bible study does not mean that I am shy or repressed or less spiritual than those talking. Extroverts need to strike that from their vocabulary because it is rubbing salt in the wounds of introverts. (Sorry to sound bitter – I do appreciate extroverts too!) It just happens that my job requires me to interact with lots of people and by the time Wed night small group rolls around, I am just so tired. When I don’t go to work on small group days, I am way more energetic and excited to be there.

  92. Marcia says

    I am an introvert who loves 1 on 1 but am often stretched to participate in larger groups. I have been told that people preceive me as stuck up when I don’t talk. I have learned to ask leading questions of another person so the attention is on them not me.

  93. Chrissy says

    I am identifying with so many of the comments already made. I know that God has been doing a work in me by showing me this blog and Grace For the Good Girl.

    Although I go to a rather large church, I sometimes feel lonely among all of the many people around me because I don’t seem to fit in and haven’t found my place. It is difficult for me to initiate a conversation, much less jump into a new class or activity at church. I see women at my church who seem to have found their niche and are running with it, which is wonderful for them. But I feel envious towards them so many times because I, on the other hand, am exhausted just thinking about trying something new that would require communication with new people. When I get the energy to try to engage in a new group, it will begin well, but quickly falls apart when the mental drain from socializing zaps the energy and initiative right out of me. By the end of it, I am longing for my comfy couch, hot tea, and my books!

    I feel like I have so much to offer – I have a degree in Religion with a concentration in Biblical Studies and am on my way to my masters degree in Theology and I enjoy so much discussing these things with people with whom I am comfortable, whether they are fellow Christians or not. But when confronted with it within a group setting, I don’t speak at all.

    I have felt that my introversion has been viewed as standoffish- a friend recently admitted that that was her first impression of me. Cringe.
    I have tried to change my introversion because society is so set against it. I have even heard a pastor preach that being introverted and shy was a form of selfishness and a sin.

    I know that God needs introverted “Andrews” right along with those extroverted “Peters”, but if only more people today would understand that and not judge others so quickly as “uninvolved” and uncaring.

    This is God’s timing I know, because this issue has been placed in front of me repeatedly over the last couple of months. I am anxious to read this book. I want to know how best to use the gifts God has given me. Thank you for this post today; I know that I am not quite as alone in this as I had felt before!

  94. says

    What of the opposite? The church that (as a whole) is more introverted than extroverted.

    I weary myself every week initiating conversation with people who will (usually) respond but not initiate. If I let myself go there I could be in deep despair about the lack of outreach our little body seems capable of, *because* we’re not extroverts.

    I’m an introvert that needs to be seen– that is, I have to conserve my energy, but my energy and delight comes through words and ideas connecting with other lives.

    I have that deep desire for connection, but as “no one” around me initiates interaction, I have to play the extrovert (honestly, I think this comes of being in a largely introverted small church: no one invades anyone’s space, but if you want interaction you have to drum it up.)

    So I go home tired, having barely broken even between giving and receiving. I see lonely introvert women in my congregation, and wish I had more (real) energy to share myself with them, but I’ve already spilt what I have. And I’m still lonely, and it breaks my heart to know I can’t even walk across the room.

    I end up praying more, but my “do the right thing!” voice won’t quit scolding. And I am reminded that there is a time when I really can’t. take one more step.

    Though I still end up wondering if I’m lying to myself.
    Amy Jane (Untangling Tales)´s last blog post ..Hope (not) in a Bottle

  95. maria says

    I find this topic fascinating! I would be considered an extrovert by most but have definite introvert moments – maybe due to fear of provoking others to grab on to me or to dislike me, both of which happen to all of us at some time or another, of course, but after a couple of painful experiences, I have gone inward!! I would so love a copy of this book!! Thanks for the opportunity!!

  96. says

    I am an introvert who is active in the church, and am also reading Adam’s book (though I’d love to win another copy to give to my pastors at church!). The book is like a gift of grace for me, as just the realization that being an introvert in church is difficult has helped me so much! It has helped me to understand myself, to forgive myself, and to explain myself to others. I am sure that other people have misunderstood my quietness, have considered me stuck up at times (when really I am just painfully uncomfortable with talking and introducing myself at times), and have written me off as “too good for them” because I am sometimes in and out of groups.

    When Adam wrote in the book about introvert involvement in group activities like church being more of a spiral than a straight line upward, I totally got that! That is so true for me. I will get involved in something, wear myself out quickly, and pull back. I have felt so much guilt and shame over this. I have also learned to say “no”, and perhaps too often, because of the pain of this. The book and others on being an introvert (specifically Quiet by Susan Cain and The Introvert Advantage by an author whose name I can’t recall at the moment) have helped me to understand how I might use my gifts better, how to not burn myself out so quickly while still being able to contribute to my church and the world. These books are all such a blessing!

    I feel being an introvert is as God-given as being brown-eyed. It is and has always been a huge part of who I am. Because we live in such an extroverted culture, we introverts need a little extra advocacy and care right now, if we are to use our gifts in the world.
    LisaZ´s last blog post ..A Reminder To Myself: About Iced Tea in the Summer

  97. Karen says

    I commented above and I thought I understood; but I’ve just read through most of the comments, and wow. It seems as though most of the introverted women here don’t like that about themselves, and think their introversion makes them a bad person. And since we all want to be good people, we want to change and be like the people we think are good – the women your church ‘celebrates’ – and we want to avoid conflict, so we put on the brave face and the costume and bite the bullet. Can I suggest that the awkwardness and exhaustion come when we’re acting outside of our natural ‘grace zone’ – that is, outside of the zone in which God has gifted us to live? When we’re doing things He hasn’t asked us to do? If He made you an introvert, He is NOT going to ask you to behave like an extrovert. He has a specific set of things for you to do, things He has ALREADY equipped you for. If you’re not good at making small talk, then don’t. I know how awful it feels to wait on the outside of a conversation and not be included, but I also know that barging into said conversation will be painful and awkward for everyone. But do you think maybe it’s not the Introverts’ fault? If God made Extroverts good at small talk and starting conversations, then maybe it’s their job to include the Introverts? Maybe the ball has been dropped by them, maybe it’s got nothing to do with whether the Introverts are ‘good enough’?
    I think there are enough comments above that describe the difference between how we think people perceive introverts, and how introverts really are. It’s clear that quiet or shy does not equal rude, stuck up or stupid. So maybe we can start to change that mindset. Quiet just means quiet, period. Let’s stop assuming people think the worst about us – on every level! I don’t think that way about other people, why would they think that about me? People really do appreciate you for the person God made you to be – some of them are just a bit slow in realising it, and not everyone knows how to express it.
    It’s time we stop hating ourselves. Believe that God made you exactly the way He wanted, and you’re capable of doing what He asks of you. The tricky part is separating what He wants from us and what people want from us – and then telling the People ‘No, I’m sorry but I can’t do … I just don’t think it’s a good fit for me right now.’ Don’t use your personality as a crutch, but put your boundaries in place so you don’t get walked over. The Extroverts don’t usually mean to hurt, but they do need to hear clearly when the line has been crossed. At the end of it all, you have to answer to God for the things you’ve done in your life, not people – yes, some of those things are obedience to your leaders, but some of those things are about loving yourself so you can love your neighbour properly.

  98. Lori says

    I smiled when I saw you wanted comments about being an introvert. Wouldn’t you say introverts are less likely to comment, ever, on a blog, in a classroom, etc.? Just thinking that might be the case with more people than just me. :)

  99. Liah says

    As a longtime introvert, with a sister who could be the woman described, I long stuggled with this very issue. I thought I was wrong and my sister was right, but it never made me feel any more comfortable in my own skin. Every church I went to where they greeted visitors warmly scared me away. That is until God directed me to a church where there was a place for me where I wasn’t expected to be extroverted and (thus) popular. My first week there, the minister “forgot” to welcome first-time guests, and honestly if she’d remembered I may never have gone back. But I did go back and found myself volunteering in a behind-the-scenes area where there were only a few of us, and I was able to find my place. Now, a lot of people know who I am, but I’m not the first one people think of, as a go-to volunteer. I have friends, but only a few, yet I know many people in my 350-member church. For me it was a matter of being okay with being introverted, and then finding the place that worked for me to serve (I am the sound-board operator).

  100. Terri says

    In every test (Myers-Briggs for instance), I peg out at full introvert. It means that sometimes even in my small group I can’t get a word in edgewise. It means I’m frozen with regard to evangelism, and that makes me sometimes question my walk. My FAVORITE activity is craft night (my church has had two so far), because I can just sit and knit and listen to everyone else talk and not feel like I HAVE to say anything.

    I’ve often felt like women’ns ministry assumes all women are extroverted… that we’re all chatty and touchy-feely.

  101. Terri says

    In every test (Myers-Briggs for instance), I peg out at full introvert. It means that sometimes even in my small group I can’t get a word in edgewise. It means I’m frozen with regard to evangelism, and that makes me sometimes question my walk. My FAVORITE activity is craft night (my church has had two so far), because I can just sit and knit and listen to everyone else talk and not feel like I HAVE to say anything.

    I’ve often felt like women’s ministry assumes all women are extroverted… that we’re all chatty and touchy-feely.

  102. Christa says

    This has been a struggle for me for a long time. You see, I didn’t realize I was an introvert and that it was OK, until I entered my forties. I was raised in the church and it definitely seemed to be a world where being out there and on the go was they way to be. Why then did I want to pull in? Why did it exhaust me to go to church? (I just thought naps after church on Sunday were a normal thing.) in the last several years I have been coming to the understanding that there is nothing wrong with me. I have so appreciated hearing other voices of introverts coming forth and sharing their stories. We belong. We are important. We have a place. It is well.

  103. JennyB says

    I am learning that it is ok for me to be an introvert because that is how God wired me but that I need to also find ways to let my voice be heard because I have things to contribute that are unique to me. My church is very arts oriented so I can share my gifts in ways that do not require me to pretend to be someone I am not.

  104. says

    This subject is right on time for me. I grew up in a church where I participated in everything. I was a little social butterfly as a child, but being apart of everything opened some doors that never should have been. After leaving home for college and attending other churches, I realized that there was too much concentration on the social aspect of church and less on the connection with Christ. Since then, I’ve chosen to nurture a more quiet relationship with God. I still believe in the fellowship of church but there needs to be balance and I have not yet learned what that balance is for me.

    Needless to say, I need to get this book!

    Thanks for this post.
    April´s last blog post ..A Little Time Away

  105. Erin says

    It is exhausting. Church pushes- volunteer here, serve there, attend this, make sure your kid gets to that, etc. And all of those things are good, truly. But I need a wide margin. I need more days free than filled. ….I love to listen deeply and connect in a one-on-one setting over coffee. Sign me up for that.

  106. says

    I’m a bi-polar in this extrovert/introvert discussion. Online, I am definately a extrovert – I manage a team of 160 people who don’t know anything about me. I have been a moderator of a chronic pain group for over 9 years (again, not a single person really knows me, yet I have a lot to say in both of those groups). I have over 200 friends and people who “like” me on facebook and nearly 1000 twitter “friends” who have no clue who I really am.

    I’ve attended churches, but really have never had what others call a “church home”, because I really don’t allow others to get into my space (personal or business wise). I’ve been told by my mother that I am “secretive”, but the reality is that I really don’t have secrets, but it seems that others enjoy talking about themselves, and I enjoy hearing about their lives….and there never ends up being any time to share my own thoughts or experiences.

    I think I have often questioned my spirituality and my relationship with God if I am in a mode where I compare myself with others (really – how transparent is that – to tell all you people I don’t know that I have questioned that relationship!). It’s only in recent years (I’m over 60 now) that I can look back and shake my head that I would have ever questioned that relationship….but I can see how easy it was, as it often seemed that gregarious woman that lead the choir, planned the annual women’s tea and fashion show and invited half the women in the church to her house for bible study, seemed so much more “spiritual” than I was.

    There is never anything good about not feeling as though I was less than because I didn’t share as openly. I think the eye opener for me was that I found that I was so very comfortable on a one on one basis with my friends. I always had a great time with three, a better time with two and an awesome time with one. Seemed like conversations were opened, honest and interesting the fewer people there were. Still, I doubt if most of my “friends” could ever tell you what my favorite color was, what books I like to read or anything personal about my family. Yet, I know that much and more about them. The one thing I do know about my friends….they know that I will be there for them…..that they can count on me to be supportive if they need me to be…..and each and everyone of them know that I have a very strong faith in God….not because I stood up in front of a crown and pronounced it or anything like that…but because of a single intimate conversation between one friend at a time, in which the friend was sharing a struggle, and I could say, “I understand, I think the way that I deal with these things is through my faith in God…” The conversation is never long and drawn out, but short and sweet….and somehow, I God does his thing….puts the words in my mouth.

    Some of of us a reverant and still and others are roof raisers. God uses us all to get His message across. It takes all kinds of personalities, all kinds of music styles….Thank God he made us different!
    GeeMom´s last blog post ..THE BLUE RHINESTONE NECKLACE – A Wedding Story

  107. says

    I have a vivid memory of being the new girl in the second grade and overhearing the other girls talking about me. They said I was stuck-up. The truth is I was painfully shy. I’m a grandmother now and at times I can convince myself that the shy, introvert has grown up into an extrovert – but it isn’t true. Once I’m out of my comfort zone she comes sneaking back.

    I think being introverted in church is also rather guilt-inducing. I often feel as though I don’t do enough. I am so much more comfortable with someone giving me a small behind-the-scenes job. And yet there is that longing to be out there doing something “big” for the Lord.

    Exhausting fits the bill too. I really do love being with other people, but once I’m home I just want to curl up with a good book and be quiet.
    I’m so grateful to know I’m not alone.
    Linda´s last blog post ..My Dad and D-Day

  108. Karol says

    I love how someone called it the “extroverted costume”! I have worn this so many times. My husband is also an introvert. Our children are extremely social. They can’t understand why we don’t go to parties, out with friends. Its hard to explain to them. I like how one of the first comments said she chases her family to the car after church – our daughter does that all the time and begs us just to stay for alittle bit and talk with people. Thank you for everyone’s comments – it is very comforting. It would be so nice to win!

  109. says

    When we, as introverted women, compare ourselves to the extroverted ladies, we can run ourselves into the ground with thoughts of inadequacy, self doubt, and even covetousness. Why can’t I sing like ______? If only I could have an outgoing personality like_________.

    On the flip side, the extroverts may wish they were more soft-spoken like _______ or why I can’t I listen like ________?

    It all comes down to comparison! Whichever side we fall on, we’ll always compare ourselves. It’s part of our human flesh. Kind of like how the girl with curly hair wishes for straight locks and visa versa.

    When we remember that we are perfect in His sight just as He has created us and that our gifts (soft or loud) are pleasing to Him, we can be content in how he formed us as hands or mouths (or whatever part) in the body of Christ.

    And, to open a can of worms, this makes me think about introversion/extroversion in the little boys and girls that grow up to be these men and women in the church. That would be another discussion for another book, I suppose!
    Erika´s last blog post ..A Tribute

  110. says

    This word has been hanging over me my ENTIRE life. Being an introvert has me being labeled as Shy (which I am a little), standoffish, a snob, (and other mean words that go along with snob) I agree that the issues might be more acute for women. Silent men are strong and revered, Silent women are told to smile more and be more out going.
    Being and introvert in social circles leaves me questioning who I am, it makes me feel a little insecure.
    I am getting better at accepting my silence and being more confident about it. I am also getting better at socializing, but still don’t feel like i am any good at it.
    But I am leading a women’s bible study this summer (thats something)
    So glad I am finding other people “struggle” with this too :)
    Jimmie Lee´s last blog post ..Weekday Musings

  111. says

    Wow, you are so right with what you said about the perceptions of introverted women, especially in the church. I had also never thought about the differences between how people see introverted men vs. women, but that’s also right. I’m a very introverted woman and have a small handful of trusted, female friends (all of whom attend other churches than I do). I also have an extroverted husband who was very involved in church activities before he met me, so when I joined his church and we were married the expectation (by our church, not my husband) to perform was certainly there. I often feel that the more extroverted women in the church have a low tolerance level for introverts, particularly in our choices not to participate in certain women’s ministry activities or when our worship doesn’t look like their worship. It seems hard for them to understand that an introverted woman can have a strong relationship with God, can have friends she talks to openly, can serve in quiet ways, and be happy without going on women’s retreats, publicly volunteering, or getting to know every woman in the church. Honestly, it’s exhausting to feel that misunderstanding every Sunday and to give the unnecessary guilt over to God. The women in our church are fantastic people, but if I’m going to be social I want to put that energy towards spending time with those close girlfriends I already have and strengthen those friendships and family relationships that are most important to me.

    This is the second time I’ve heard about your book in the past week, too. My husband found it first and mentioned it to me, so I think I’m going to need to purchase it and read it. =] Thanks for thinking of us introverts.
    Stacey´s last blog post ..LIST LOVE

  112. says

    The timing of this post is impeccable, for me. I whined and groaned over having to attend a birthday party for a friend of my son’s, to wade uncertain into those waters of the mom club and hang out with a bunch of women I didn’t know. I nearly broke out in hives over it. In 3 weeks, I have signed up to attend a mom’s retreat at my new church and don’t know a soul. I may have ulcers from the anxiety of wondering how I am going to spend 24 hours and share a bunk bed with someone when I have literally not spoken a word to any of these women. It’s exhausting. You don’t get picked for dodgeball in the 6th grade, you don’t make the cheerleading squad in the 9th, and spend the rest of your life stuck under the what-will-they-think-of-me thumb. I’m 32 years old now but situations like this reduce me to a 12-year-old. Because I’m introverted, it is very hard for me to initiate conversations, get to know people, and as a result, we have spent the last 10 years attending churches where even when serving in ministry, we wound up only knowing a few people. The concept of Christian “community” is tricky for me for these reasons. If someone talks to me, is kind and opens up, well then… that’s a whole different story. Then they can’t get me to shut up. ;)
    Cara @ WhimsySmitten´s last blog post ..What Lightning Has to Say

  113. says

    I am a part of a large church family and have found it vital to connect with a group within the group. Even still, making friends is hard when social gatherings are so exhausting to me. I often find myself overcompensating at church events and becoming hyper and chatty (in which case I’m almost too tired to drive home) or becoming reclusive and worrying my friends that I’m “not okay” in some way.

    I am preparing to fill a leadership role in our college ministry this Fall and, despite my excitement and the encouragement I’ve received on the subject, my introversion keeps me hesitant to commit to any more than I have to. Leadership retreats are just something I’m going to have to push through and evangelism trips are not even on my radar yet!

    I am alright with being an introvert, it’s just that explaining my introversion to extroverts can be so incredibly exhausting! It isn’t that I don’t like parties. It isn’t that I don’t like you. It’s just that if I see another person in the next 24 hours I’m going to jump under my covers and take to hibernating!

  114. says

    I experience that feeling of being perceived as “stand-offish” or uninterested when I really would just rather listen or observe at the moment (and refill my verbal/social tank). I LOVE one-on-one conversations, but also need quiet time after social time (and often before to prepare, if I can manage it).

    As an introvert, one minor occurrence I would prefer not happen occurs when I join a group for the day/meeting. I get nervous whenever I walk in to a group already in session and folks all stop and immediately turn attention to me. I’d prefer not to have that attention and instead just slip in quietly, get settled, listen, then join the conversation. I just don’t want the immediate attention. Is that bad? Sometimes I feel bad, but I also am thankful for many of my introverted tendencies.

    I hope to be reading this book soon. I’ve read so many amazing thoughts about the book.
    Caroline´s last blog post ..From A Cocoon

  115. Janet says

    I think the hardest area for me as an introvert are not the conversations but meetings where the eyes are on the one doing all the talking around the circle. Drives me nuts!!

  116. Lisa H. says

    I just turned 25 years old in the Lord…. and in those 25 years in the church, I’ve always been amazed at the variety of people God has made and the variety of gifts He gives to each, perfectly suited to the proper workings of the Body!
    As a quiet person, I have been accused of being stand-offish, but I also know Whom I have believed…. those who actually take time to know me, know I am not. We quiet people often have more horse-power in us than appears to the casual observer. We also love very deeply, and take things to the Lord rather than to others first. We are often “listeners” and delight in the intimate one-on-one relationship. And isn’t that where disciples are made? Isn’t it this kind of relationship that sharpens other iron?
    I’ve been on the receiving end of the extrovert, and while I learn a lot from her (or him), I like my quieter space, where I can hear His voice more easily, and invite others into that intimacy, where I stay charged and ready for the behind-the-scenes action….where nearly no one sees, but my Father in Heaven. We each have a place. If we were all mouths, where would the listening be?

  117. says

    I’m just about half and half on the extrovert/introvert scale. I’m fairly confident meeting and talking with someone new, but struggle with the week-in, week-out small talk God took compassion, and allowed me to discover the power of a prayer ministry. Most of the social time at church is spent following up on requests I’ve been praying for during the week. It allows people to see that I love and care deeply for them, and frees me from that squirrelly fake feeling. I’ve also enjoyed working in children’s ministries for the last 15 years: the noise and busyness can be difficult at times, but kids have no expectations for conversation.
    Rebecca´s last blog post ..Inductive Bible Study, Part 6D: It’s About Time

  118. says

    I’m an introvert. I’m a loud introvert. People who run in a close social circle with me, but don’t know me well always assume I’m an extrovert because I speak loudly. I guess it doesn’t hurt that I have a degree in group theory/facilitating groups. However, on the Myers/Briggs, I’m 9/10 toward introversion.

    That said: I do have social comfort zones of about 3-4 people that I’m aquainted with. If I’m with 3-4 people that I don’t know… I’m likely not to talk. At all. In fact… I’ve been told it’s 8 weeks of regular meetings before I’ll talk. My current closest friend confirms that it was 8 weeks before I said anything at all of substance in my Ladies Bible Study group. And then a week later it took me 20 minutes of sweating profusely courage to ask her to let me come with her and her kiddos to the zoo. I nearly wept afterward! And then spent 3 days panicked on how it would go!

    In large groups, I feel like the social outcast still. Extroverts flit about talking to other extroverts (and occcasionally spending the time to draw out the one introvert they might know in the circle) and just when I get up the courage to speak, the topic changes. I leave everytime nearly in tears. I’m pretty much convinced that I now only go to these larger gathering of ladies/playdates to simply wear out my children so they all nap well enough that I can recharge. Ha! But in all seriousness… I feel like I don’t belong. Like socially there is something missing in me. Like indeed, these women either see me as a critical judge of them or the person who has absolutely nothing to say. It hurts being an introvert in this church culture.

  119. Cathy says

    Conversations often do not flow, true. But I’m often found much fulfillment and enjoyment in other areas of life. Plus, this is an area that, who know God may change! I do believe in miracles.

  120. Caroline says

    Getting to know Jesus and who He is will show us how much we are ALL loved.

    For a believer whatever the labels the world has for us, we are free from them all,
    as new creations we live in Christ Jesus by His Spirit.

    We are IN CHRIST ! He died so we might be free to Live in Him, our sins washed away by His blood.

    As Christians we belong to Him : ) Our sins are forgiven and our Life is found in Christ, He has conquered death and sin !

    “We are All One in Christ Jesus ” (Galatians 3 v 28) We are free to abide in Jesus !!!

    “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” (Romans 6 v 8-10)

    “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galations 2 v 20)

    “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives”. (Galatians 5 v25)

    “Looking to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith”… (Hebrews 12 v 2.)

    “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. ” (Isaiah 30 v 15)

    “let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” ( 1Peter 3 v 4)

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is best GOOD NEWS for everyone !!! : ) JESUS is the Way The Truth The Life. (John 14 v 6).

    “Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you” (Pslam 63 v 3)

  121. Dee says

    This book is on my wish list. I don’t know that I can add anything to the conversation that hasn’t already been said. Yes, I am an introvert. Yes, being an introvert (in or out of the church) is a lonely place to be. I do have three very close friends, but unfortunately none of them live in the same town as me. As an introvert, it is nearly impossible for me to make new friends. Additionally, I am tired of my extroverted family & a few acquaintances treating me like there is something wrong with who I am and telling me that I just need to “talk to people” and I’ll be cured!

  122. JULIE says

    yes, this describes me. social settings are hard. have to really gear up for them mentally and emotionally. sometimes leave feeling very bad about myself, like why can’t i just get it together? why can’t i fully participate in a conversation without shaking or feeling on edge? when will it get easier for me to make friends? but really, these problems are small potatoes in this big world of ours. i’m okay. i am loved. i am known.

  123. says

    If I could describe being an introvert in the church in one word, that word would be Shame. Shame from feeling that there is something wrong with you, that you aren’t listening to God closely enough if you aren’t compelled to do more, go more, be more. Shame from the sense that there is something missing in you that is present in other women of God. Shame that if all women are made to be one way (extroverted), then there is something wrong with me as a woman.

    This feeling of shame is one thing that led us to a less mainstream evangelical church, where I feel like it is more possible to meet God quietly and privately, instead of only corporately and with great fanfare. As a mom of three daughters who range from introvert to extrovert, I don’t want them to feel shame (especially in the church) about who they are.
    Shannon AKA WordGirl´s last blog post ..BODY

  124. Jen S. says

    I’ve always been an introvert and have been mistaken for stuck-up all my life. I have a hard time in large crowds and also one-on-one as I go home wondering if I said anything wrong or talked too much. I often praise those who are not like me instead of asking God how I can be used by Him who fearfully and wonderfully made me just the way I am.

  125. says

    Sometimes, being an introvert in church is easy. In one-on-one settings and small groups–easy to connect and easy to listen and talk. In large auditoriums for church services–easy to sit back and listen, to be one in a huge crowd, almost invisible.

    Other times, it’s hard. Like when a pastor tells everyone to get up out of their seats and shout and cheer for Jesus, “with all you’ve got now!” and you stay in your seat, fighting the urge to put on a mask of shouting just because you want the people around you to know you love Jesus and not because shouting and cheering is the way you react to anything you actually love, and you sit in your chair, praying that you believe it’s God’s opinion and not anyone else’s that matters. Like when they say, “shake hands with the people around you now!” and you say hellos and good mornings to people who barely make eye contact with you before they’re off to greet someone else. Like when you serve in children’s ministry and another leader tries to force all the kids to rev up and “get excited” and you wish you could help those quiet ones who remind you of yourself.
    Shanna´s last blog post ..16 X 20 Canvas Giveaway (with a Twist!)

  126. Cara says

    I am an introverted woman missionary, homeschooling mom to three young kids, in constant transition, always meeting new people, and have my closest female friends an email or expensive phone call away. All of this can easily get overwhelming if I am not rooted in the Word. If I am constantly thinking about what others think of me and not about what my God thinks, I am going to burn out quickly. He knows me. He loves me. He knows what I need- I need to be humble, to serve, to love. These things take different shapes according to our gifts. He doesn’t call us to be social recluses, although if left to myself I think I would be content to do that. He also doesn’t call us to be people that we are not. He places on our hearts convictions at the right time and place. When we are in the Word, He is our standard. We act to please Him. Lately, His challenge to me has been to love my kids. To be present with them. They are bundles of energy and noise but He has placed them under my care and I need to pour myself out for them. It is challenging. It doesn’t always feel natural. But at the end of the day, He doesn’t pile on the guilt when I need to go away to a quiet place and let them play with Daddy. I love my kids and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. He knows that I need to learn to die to my own needs- which might mean going to the crazy/loud/chaotic/busy park or the play group where small talk abounds. He graciously shows me ways to run our household in ways that are fitting to my gifts- making one on one time with each of my kids, reading to them to share my love of that, teaching them to self-entertain… If I let Him mold me and shape me and direct me, it’s going to hurt a little, but it will be the right kind of sufferings. If I’m pleasing others by signing up for more activities and talking more and going to more events because that’s what you do… I will burn out.

  127. Jamie says

    Thank you so much for this post. I have struggled for a long time trying to understand why it is so hard for me to be happy at church activities. For a very long time I naively believed that cliques did not exist at church and that it did not matter if you were an extrovert or introvert because “hey we are all Christians with massive amounts of love and compassion in our hearts just waiting to include everyone who walks through the door…” blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, I spent several years trying very hard to fit in at the church we joined shortly after moving to our current town and I ended up burnt out, spent and I hate to say it, but – bitter. I never felt like a member of the group. It was just high school all over again. It has only been within the last couple of years that I have recognized that I am an introvert and just what that means exactly. Had I understood myself better and accepted my true nature I think I would have approached many things at that church very differently. At this point we do not currently have a “church home” and frankly are not looking very hard. Just the thought of having to do all of the work of putting on my extrovert dress and courting the popular Moms at a new church just exhausts me. I start each week planning to visit a new church and by Saturday night I have convinced myself that next week will be better. Reading this post and all of the thoughtful comments has given me renewed hope and desire to find a church community. Thank you for shedding light on this hidden issue. By the way, I am a loyal reader but such an introvert I never comment…I guess I am making progress…

  128. says

    While I am not a total introvert, I do have some introvert as part of my make up. When we attended a large church, the balance was not too hard. I enjoy going to parties and Bible studies, as long as I have some down time in my life. Now, my husband has planted a church, and I am expected by him and others to be super extroverted. I don’t like initiating activities. And I’m really not comfortable inviting virtual strangers into our home. I have never initiated conversations with strangers! And now I feel like I’m expected to do all of those things! And I think the women of our church plant don’t like me because of it!
    April´s last blog post ..The Dirt on SSMTC

    • Sharon says

      Very interesting comment about a large church versus a new church plant. I am an introvert and my husband is an extrovert. We are currently looking for a new church and I find it is funny that I am drawn to the larger mega-churches and my husband likes the smaller family-style churches. I think I know why now! You made me realize that it is easier for an introvert to “get lost” in a large church….you can sneak into a service or Bible study when there are thousands of people or a hundred ladies in attendance. You may have a few people greet you (let’s hope so, anyway) but that’s as far as you have to go. In a smaller church, people will actually “notice” you from week-to-week! You may need to be involved (especially in a church plant that your husband is pastoring) or people may more often invite you to things. As an introvert it creates a lot of stress to have to say “no” to all the invitations in order to preserve our energy resources and sanity. I usually get involved in something when we settle into a church…but the feeling of “you have to get involved” makes me run the other way. It’s also very hard when pastors get in the pulpit and put out a guilt-inducing tongue lashing that says, “You may not feel ‘called’ to help in the nursery but we need you there anyway.” I often think, “Oh, no, you don’t – unless you want kids who are stressed out because that’s not a place where I am comfortable. I’d last one, maybe two, weeks serving in the nursery. Then I’d be so unhappy that I’d probably drop out of everything at the church.

  129. says

    Being an introverted woman in social circles means not fighting to get a word in edgewise, being content to listen (sometimes. Other times it means wishing I had more courage to speak up.) Once at a Bible study one very expressive woman went on and on after almost every question, and then looked around at the rest of us and made a remark about being the only one to answer, as if we weren’t doing our part. I wanted to ask, “When could we have?”

    It means being thought snobbish. A couple of my college roommates once told me much later in the year that at first they had thought I was a “stuck-up rich girl.” I don’t know where they got rich….but introverted people are often thought of as stuck-up.

    It means sometimes being mistaken for having a “meek and quiet spirit.” A quiet mouth does not always indicate a quiet spirit.

    It means not using it for an excuse. I can be very happy coming into church, smiling and saying hello to people on the way to my seat, and not having any other conversation. But if I am called to participate in community, it means extending myself beyond my comfort zone even though it doesn’t come naturally.

    It means feeling conflicted when my pastor’s wife asks me to be a part of a small group prayer meeting — honored to be asked, but recoiling from something that small and intense. It means preferring to be a more obscure part of a larger group.

    It means finally learning it is okay to feel more comfortable with some ministries than others, that my personality and make-up combined with whatever spiritual gifts God has given me will suit me for some ministries and not for others.
    Barbara H.´s last blog post ..Book Review: Wives and Daughters

  130. says

    I am an introverted woman, and for a long time I thought that was a very bad thing. But over the past year or two I have becoming much more comfortable with that — because it is the way that God made me, and there are strengths to it. Like a least one other commenter mentioned, I feel like because I am not quick to speak in group discussions, that my words often feel like they are more heard than if I spoke many times.

    But I’m not sure I even like the word “introvert,” because I feel like I am NOT an introvert with the people I am comfortable with. Also, I am very open with my story (which is quite a raw one), so is that typical of an introvert? Anyway, I suppose I am an introvert because I “recharge” in solitude, rather than feeding more off of interaction and social stuff.

    Love this post and the ensuing discussion, and I’d love to read a copy of that book.
    Beth´s last blog post ..The Journey of Grief is Meant to be Traveled

    • says

      This is very common of introverts, that we love close association and communication with those who are close to us and whom we feel to be kindred spirits. Being an introvert doesn’t mean we don’t ever like to talk and be gregarious and intimate with people. It only means, as you have said, that we have a high level of neurological arousal in the company of people and require time alone to recover and recharge our energy.

    • says

      This.

      I am very open and even “chatty” with people I trust, or even people I don’t know well, as long as I’m in a one-on-one situation with them. But when the group grows, I start to shut down. I can’t deal with fifteen women talking at once! I’m quite happy to sit in the corner and listen, then pull ONE of those women aside for (what I consider) a “real” conversation. :)
      Rebekah´s last blog post ..an unexpected superhero: or, in which baking soda rocks yet again

  131. hollie says

    I am an introvert and my husband a serious extrovert. I agree with the feeling of putting on the extrovert costume for social functions and church gatherings. And I feel the same about the need to recharge with some alone time afterward… However I think we need to be careful of being smug about “how we are” be it introverted or extroverted. Neither is more godly and, in fact, I think Jesus was a perfect balance. Introverts need to get out of their comfort zone — which may mean being more extroverted than is natural. Extroverts need to get out of their comfort zone — which may mean being more introspective and honest about themselves. We are not entitled to “alone time”. This is obvious especially when you have kids and can’t even go to the bathroom without them sobbing on the other side of the door, or clinging to your knees. We need to trust Jesus beyond what we are most comfortable with… its getting out on the limits of our comfort zone that true growth happens.

    • Sharon says

      I have to take issue with this. I don’t think it’s a “spiritual” issue at all to be introverted or extraverted. I don’t think we necessarily “grow” by forcing ourselves to be uncomfortable. I think we grow when we accept people for who they are and for how God made them – and then love those people by maybe doing something THEY like that isn’t our first preference just because we know it will bless them. But forcing ourselves to be different from who we are just for the sake of “growth” will only breed frustration. Let’s not “spiritualize” this concept of personality too much.

  132. Kathleen says

    I used to think I was extroverted, and probably if you asked people when I was growing up they would agree. As I grew older, I seemed to be getting more and more introverted. However, I have realized I am not becoming more introverted, I am just becoming more comfortable being introverted. I think I was always an introvert, just one who wore the extrovert costume, as some have already said. As a child, how could I understand that I did not need to feed on the praises of man or the attention of others. I am a contemplative person, and sadly this regularly gets mistaken for being snobbish or not liking people (my husband’s coworkers at every job he’s ever had, small groups, my work, etc.), especially set against the gregariousness of my husband. BUT, that gregariousness can be a blessing sometimes, because there are times I can say, “get me out of here”. He doesn’t fully understand it, but has come to my rescue many times.

  133. says

    As I’ve read the first 50-100 responses, I couldn’t help but think a good definition of introversion is needed (check out Myers/Briggs). Introverts aren’t shy or socially awkward although they can be. The major difference is where do you recharge and get your energy – time alone or time with others? I enjoy the company of others, I like to play hostess, I taught high school and middle school for 14 years BUT at the end of the day when my reserves are low, I pull away to a corner by myself to process and recharge. Without “alone time” as my 7-year old calls it, I’m not very pleasant to be around.

  134. Jess says

    I’m not sure if I’m an introvert or an extravert. Any time I’ve taken the Meyers-Briggs I’ve come out on a different side. One thing that has struck me as I’ve read through the comments here is that many of our unhappy feelings about introversion come from how we think others perceive us. I think it gets back to Emily’s Dangerous Town post from earlier this week, and how we can become debilitated by our thought life. It’s certainly our human nature to be plagued by concern about what others think of us. I taught school for a number of years and saw this tendency is each new group of little ones. But I also think fixating on what others think about us (or, more likely, what we imagine they are thinking about us) is something God encourages us not to do. He has so much to say to us about how HE sees us, that if we can rest quietly in this assurance, we needn’t fixate on who others say we are. This is something I think God challenges me with in every new season, and it’s very freeing when I take the courage to see things from this perspective. Then it doesn’t matter so much to me whether I’m an introvert or an extravert, and I see it as within my God-given power to initiate conversation when I want to and to bow out when I’m too taxed. It also allows me to realize that others probably aren’t as likely labeling me or ruminating on my personality as I thought. It puts a lot of pressure on other people when we imagine ourselves to be so determined by them and whether or not they talk to us! Thank you for talking about this issue that is so close to the hearts of so many!

    • Sharon says

      Could you please send me a link to the post of Emily’s Dangerous Town? I can’t seem to find it and it sounds interesting. Thank you.

  135. says

    I have thought about the posts all night :) I was thinking that the reality of all of this is that I actually like myself, my thoughts, my time alone. I like going shopping by myself, I like my house quiet (not alot of TV), I love to read. My daughter and her family attend a Penecostal Church – I feel so out of place – the noise, the interruptions of praise and “amens” – it’s distracting and interrupts my own flow of prayer and concentration of the service. I feel exhausted when i am around the noise of a TV, a very chatty friend etc. I’m really comfortable with quiet – I enjoy setting having tea with a friend and NOT talking or conversing – just enjoying the sounds of silence.

    It’s amazing what I hear when by just listening – and sometimes I think wisdom is found in silence. Sometimes it’s not what we hear but what we observe that is most important.

    As well as I feel confident and comfortable in my space as a introvert; I think it is important to acknowledge that God made us each who we are, and it pays for me to accept my extroverted friends and family members for who they are. The interesting part for me is that it does seem that my extroverted friends are as accepting of those who are more introverted. They have the tendancy to think that because someone is quiet that they must be “depressed” or something is wrong or they don’t feel good. LOL! Or, if I want to hang out at the house for more than a few days, they tend to react as if they are “worried” that I am not “getting out more often.”

  136. says

    It is putting on a costume and adapting a personality to get through all of those extroverted situations, but nothing ever feels real, feels right. You know you need to do those extroverted things to be looked on as a “good” christian…so others might see you working in the church, but deep down inside you really want to do your own quiet work. For me the quiet work is teaching a class (without an assistant), preparing meals, writing notes, publishing a bulletin, making friends with “real” people who don’t befriend for social status but because there is real joy in the friendship.

    I’ll be looking for your book.

    Judy :)
    Judy @ A Meek Perspective´s last blog post ..Mother’s Day 2012

  137. Renee says

    I’m an introvert with a limited capacity for social situations. While I agree with one of the posters that listening is a good way to blend in, it is very exhausting to listen to others and give your full attention — especially those that need an audience. The one thing that helps me personally is to take the focus off of myself. The danger of introverts is that they spend a lot of time being introspective which is a barrier to seeing the needs of others around them. Yes I’m an introvert but if there is someone I can minister to by listening to them, then I forget about my need to run to the safety of my home. There are several ways introverts can look to minister to others without draining themselves of all their energy. When I forget about myself and my limitations, God can use me in ways I would not be comfortable in under my own power. And despite thinking that extroverted women are “super Christians”, I believe that a quiet woman exudes graciousness and rarely has to apologize for her words. It’s a matter of being comfortable with who you are and how God can use you. I have to remember “it’s not about me”.

    • Sarah says

      Beautifully said! Let’s recognize that God gave us a certain personality, but realize that’s not an excuse for letting Him stretch us in the weaknesses of that personality.

  138. says

    I really struggle with being an introvert in the church we attend because we have to travel over an hour for worship on Sunday mornings. I feel like the fellowship time after the service is my only time to really “connect” with people in the church since I don’t have the opportunity to meet with them during the week in a smaller group setting or just one on one. Being forced to don an extrovert mask every single Sunday and engage in chipper small talk with many people is so stressful that I often don’t even want to go to church. And at the same time, I don’t want people to think that I’m stuck up or uninterested…because I really DO want to make connections. (It doesn’t help to be married to a highly introverted husband who just books it out the door as soon as possible… :-))

    In order to combat the stress of post-church fellowship, I’m working on setting some small goals that allow me to engage with people without completely freaking myself out – goals like talking to only two people after the service, or shaking hands sincerely with only one person during the meet-and-greet. If I meet these goals then I can let the rest go guilt free. Because I loathe small talk, I’m trying to scout out information on church members via their Facebook pages prior to the service so that I can hopefully engage in meaningful conversation about what’s going on in their lives – with the hope that a deeper connection could be eventually made. I’m looking for ways that I can use my music and sewing skills to contribute to the church without having to be “on.” If we lived closer to our church I would love to participate in smaller studies in which I could get to know people without so much social and sensory stimulation, but in the meantime, I’m going to work with what I’ve got.

    This is a fascinating subject to me as I seek to glorify God in how He has made me…and stop trying to be someone I’m not.
    Amelia´s last blog post ..A Happy Summer

  139. says

    In high school I was an introvert – upon graduating I found out that I was considered “stuck-up”. I wasn’t. I was just not outgoing and my family moved and I entered this new school in the middle of tenth grade. In the job I retired from I had to be “extroverted” meeting people, training adults, greeting in political circles . . . but I would go home exhausted. We moved upon retirement . . . it is difficult making new friends, because again, people think I am “unfriendly.” I’m not. I just am a quiet person who likes her space. People around here HUG all the time. I like my physical space. The amusing thing in all of this is that I enjoy filling in for our Worship Leader when she is out of town. This has nothing to do with being an introvert or extrovert. I simply enjoy worshiping God and no one else wants the “job.” It is difficult being an introvert anytime you are moving out of your comfort zone – new city, new job, new church – people seem to relate to those who are outgoing much easier and that is okay with me. Just, please, do not think I am “unfriendly.”

  140. says

    I’m an introvert who doesn’t even go out much. Mainly because it’s so outrageously HOT in this part of Arizona but also because I have no desire to go anywhere. I belonged to a church once where I sat at the back of the room…for almost 2 years and had people come up to me and ask me if I was new there. LOL!! They had a class that you have to attend and then get baptized into that church and then people will come up and greet you and get to know you. I have been baptized twice. I wrote an email to the pastor and asked “what about the people that just come into the church? Isn’t there something or someone that makes them feel welcomed?’ No there isn’t and no, they didn’t implement anything like that.
    The sad part is that when I have tried to reach out, I often get ignored. I volunteer and never get called. So I gave up.

  141. Gwen says

    I am an extrovert. I DESPISE that meet & greet time at church. Can we say awkward? Awkward smile, awkward handshake, hi, good morning, nice to see you, welcome. Not enough time to introduce yourself or get their name. The noise & moving around moment makes it hard to hear, some people don’t want to shake hands, some people want to hug…Throw children in the mix and it is chaos! There must be a better way!!
    I should describe myself as a tired extrovert. Maybe it’s age or just a season of introspection, but I am more introverted than years past.

  142. Teresa says

    I am extremely introverted and finally at 43 years old God is teaching me that that is exactly how he made me. I am finally learning to be ok with it. By accepting that, my alone time has become pleasure time and God time – I can enjoy it without feeling guilty that I am not out doing something more social. God has also gifted me with some beautiful friends who encourage my introvertedness and simply accept me as I am. Through all of this I am finding that I have deeper faith, I have a stronger marriage, I have true friends, I have more joy.

  143. Kathy says

    Wow. So many comments. I’m introverted, but I’ve learned to force myself to reach out to others as an encourager. I also feel less lonely when I’m reaching out. But it is work, and sometimes I feel exhausted trying all the time.

  144. Rachael says

    I didn’t have time to read through all of the comments, though I really hope to later, in order to see what other people are contributing. But here is my 2 cents:

    I’ve worn the costume of extroversion, because for a long time, I thought that’s what we were supposed to do. In school, being chastised for not adding to the conversation enough…and even being graded on it. Being told I needed to raise my hand more, even though I was getting straight A’s. All of the pulling and prodding really made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin and made me only want to be something else, someone else. Now that I’m “all grown up” I’ve become quite good at faking the extrovert, and at times really enjoying it, but come the end of the day, I am who I am and there’s no changing that. I’ve recently vowed to become more comfortable with my own introversion, but that’s almost been harder than faking the extrovert. People, especially other women, really find it hard to accept when you are quiet. I’m quite sick of being in a group and then all of a sudden I am singled out for being “quiet” and being asked if I am ok, or worse, having it assumed that I’m just having a bad day and need some cheering up…or assumed that I’m having a bad day and someone being relieved days later when I’m talking to them and they share how worried they were about me. People think I’m either going through something, or mad at them. Quite honestly, I think people are just uncomfortable that they are not sure what’s wrong with me and why I wouldn’t want to be bouncing around the room. I am quite involved in my church, and love some of the ministries I am a part of. I think I have found a way to function pretty well as an introvert, using some extrovert qualities to make people more comfortable with me. Some days I find that people really appreciate that I listen and truly hear them rather than going on and talking blindly about myself. Other days I find that people are actually annoyed or bothered by my quietness. What I really struggle with is the “bulldozers,” the people that are so impatient in conversation that if you don’t interrupt to add to the topic, they almost start shaking you to get something out, without even giving you a moment to get a word in. And of course, the people who insist that I’m not an introvert and they I shouldn’t distance myself so much…because something’s wrong with me if I choose time alone over time with others. I am trying to become more comfortable with being an introvert and the problems that come with it, but it is certainly a struggle.

  145. says

    I’m an introvert, ‘tho not as strongly inclined that way as some. I do find that Sunday mornings and large groups wear me out, so I hear those who say it is defined largely by “Exhaustion”. However, in my experience the word I would choose would be “Lonely”. Have you seen that clip of the Invisible Woman on youtube? I cry every time I watch it.
    My husband is also introverted, and has more than once experienced someone coming up to greet a person with whom he is talking, interrupting my husband in mid-sentence, and then going on as if he isn’t even there. I frequently stand for many minutes, waiting for a break in the conversation so I can greet someone, only to have them walk off with whomever they are talking to and ignore me. I don’t really wait around much anymore to talk with people. I also abhor the “greeting” time at the beginning of the service.
    We were in a small group that met weekly for over five years. It broke up about two years ago when the leaders moved away, and we haven’t heard anything from the remaining members since, although we occasionally say “hi” on Sunday morning. They still get together with one another, but we’ve never been asked; clearly there wasn’t any connection there. We tend to like quiet activities that best accomodate just a few people ( I love my knitting group, for example, which is quite small), and we never really fit in because we don’t enjoy sports.
    Introversion is exacerbated by self-consciousness, because I suspect that I am often seen as stuck-up or stand-offish. I don’t know for sure. But to negate those labels I search desperately for openings to contribute to conversations, and then frequently stick my foot in my mouth once I finally get it open. I hate that.
    I have been going to my church for ten years now, and this morning at the Sr. High yard sale they didn’t want to take my check. First I was told that “We aren’t taking checks” and when the other girl at the table pulled several from the cash box in confusion to contradict the boy who told me that, he insisted he was correct. Then when I said “But I GO to this church!” he apologized “for the confusion” and they took my check after all. All this happened while my infant, in the front pack, screamed his head off the entire time, and I couldn’t help but think that is the only way anyone would ever remember me, is by thinking of my children when they’re loud. “Oh yes,” they could say, “that is the lady with the loud children, who always looks like she wishes she were Amish.” Because I wear my hair up and like longer skirts. My one distinguishing feature.
    Sorry if I sound a bit bitter. This has bothered me for a long time, that no one from church ever wants anything to do with me unless they need volunteers for the Sunday School program (which was absolute TORTURE the one time I agreed). My introversion has not meant exhaustion for me, because I don’t go out and wear myself out trying to be extroverted. But that means I never connect with people. Some days I’m more ok with that than others.

    • Chrissie says

      Hi Elizabeth : Perhaps you just need to meet the right people for you – maybe at a different church? Often the extroverts seem to rate quantity over quality with friendships. Many of their friendships are highly superficial and not (to us introverts) even worth having.

  146. sarah says

    I really enjoy periods of being very social, but then I find I always need a recovery period. I might become involved in a group, bible study or whatever and go all out with it, and then I find after a bit I just can’t anymore and I need to be home without any external commitments for a few weeks or even months. It’s an interesting cycle – one I’m always working to balance more effectively. I’m not sure I’m 100% introvert – but when it comes up, it comes up strong.

  147. Rachael says

    I thought about it a little more as I was driving home from work…(as a social worker, someone who talks and listens to others for a living…maybe a contradiction, maybe a good balance.)

    I think people are uncomfortable with what they don’t understand, and quiet people who don’t speak up every time they think or hear something are often misunderstood.

    I think it’s most important that we don’t allow ourselves to get bitter when we’re not understood, but rather understand the other person’s perspective. If we aren’t willing to accept extroverts the way they are, why should they accept us for who we are?

    Everything in life requires balance. I think I’ve become better at balancing my introvertedness with a touch of extrovertedness so that others can understand me, yet I don’t lose who I am. I certainly fall to one side or the other at times, but don’t we do that in most things?

    As christians, we are to focus on loving and accepting each other and we all lose sight of that. I believe a big piece of this is learning to speak another’s language. That doesn’t mean we let go of our “native language” of introvertedness, but we learn how to communicate to others through what they can understand, and maybe they’ll also learn our own language and meet us halfway.

    It is important not to get bitter with the discomfort that being an introvert in an extrovert world brings. If we become bitter and unmoving, we might actually become that stuck-up or miserable person that others are seeing. We need to accept ourselves for who we are, and we cannot do that without accepting others for who they are.

  148. says

    I’m 80-90% inclined towards introversion according to our friends Myers & Briggs. I’ve been a youth and missions pastors in a 500-member church for 12.5 years. I’m getting ready to leave on a summer of leading several mission trips – 24/7 people.

    It is exhausting. Renewing. Depleting. Fulfilling.

    Many don’t believe I’m introverted because I fake it so well (and because they think introversion = shy which I’m not). I have tried to convince members that I’m an introvert but apparently I do that poorly because they still look at me with suspicion and doubt with a sprinkling of pity that I don’t know myself better.

    Because I give so much “at the office”, my personal relationships suffer. I don’t pursue deep friendships and I’m single primarily because I don’t have the energy to add more people to my life. (That is MY fault. No one else is to blame.) But I haven’t found the balance yet.

    If I were to really embrace my introversion as a pastor who is also female, I imagine that people would describe me as an aloof and selfish woman who lacks a nurturing spirit. And because I’ve faked it so long as an extrovert, I think the predominant label that I would earn would be “burn out” as I tried to carve more space out for me to find energy.
    Melissa Hatfield´s last blog post ..God Can Be Pushy

  149. Allison says

    These comments have been so helpful and I am so curious to read the book! I am an introvert and it has taken me quite awhile to find places in the church where I am able to serve behind the scenes. I have definitely noticed an apparent clique among the extroverted women, who seem to immediately take charge of each (limited) women’s role, assigning tasks amongst themselves. Because of my dependability a few have “taken notice” (for lack of a better phrase) and invited me into more opportunities. However, it came, unfortunately, with a comment that “if I spoke up more, God might really use me”! I know this just came out wrong; the speaker’s heart was in the right place. She was an extrovert, and it shows her assumption that more women should be that way! I am growing more comfortable with who I am, but more importantly who I am in Christ. Each disappointment reminds me that I, and each church family, is broken and in need of Grace. :)

  150. says

    I am an introvert… about as introverted as they come. I’m most comfortable in a new church that completely ignores me.
    After God captured my heart as the mother of 3 (ages 5 to newborn) I went to worship solely for Him. Each Sunday a step of faith… I put myself in a most uncomfortable place out of love for God.
    When He called me to begin teaching a small adult Sunday school class… that felt like a huge leap of faith… I’m most comfortable talking to people one-on-one… as you noted in your post… women are a social enigma to me too… and I am one!
    For me… every step of obedience… from teaching to beginning prayer groups to taking on leadership positions… has challenged me to die to self…
    After 18 years of walking as a disciple of Christ… I’ve begun to embrace my introversion as a blessing… my social bent requires that I rely on Him for everything that He calls me to… and when people are surprised when I reveal my introversion… I know what they have seen is Him…
    Carol´s last blog post ..stirred and distracted

  151. Kayanne says

    Wow… you had me at the MOPS comment. Introvert? …I’m not sure… I’ve been labled that all my life, especially by my extra-EXTRA extrovert husband… Maybe just scared of not fitting in. Maybe afraid of being judged. Having to go to an event with my husband and meet new people is painful at best, and I don’t want to describe what it is at worst. How do I know grace exists? Because my husband still loves me anyway and, over the last twenty years, has begun to understand that being around people doesn’t engergize me the way that it energizes him. What energizes me? Being alone, or with a friend, and having time to deeply contemplate whatever it is that has captured my attention at the moment. I especially love sitting with my introvert child and watching my extrovert child, both of whom love me for who I am, not for what I do. I love libraries…they are so soothing and calming for me…an immediate energizer. I help out at church in the children’s program, behind the scenes in the kitchen, with women’s ministry in administrative roles. I think most behind the scenes helpers may be “introverts” because it’s an acceptable way to minister while remaining “invisible” and therefore “safe.” …that’s where I meet other women and have a chance to connect one on one.

    • Sharon says

      Interesting your comment about going to events with your husband. I’m in the same situation where I am an introvert and my husband is an extrovert. He’s in a job that requires (or expects) attendence at all sorts of fundraiser banquets. When those events are put on the calendar a month or two ahead of time I’m OK with it. The day of or the day before the event, I start to go through the normal feelings of “I really don’t want to go….do I have to go?” But I’ve realized over the years that once I’m dressed and in the car and talking to people at the dinner table that I can handle it. I enjoy it, but I also enjoy when we get to leave and get back home! There’s nothing more gratifying than the feeling of “Thankfully that event is OVER and I’m finally home!” I’ve learned that I will live through it so I’ve stopped the self-talk of “I hate these things, etc.” It only makes it worse for me.

    • Sharon says

      I, too, want to be invisible – but I don’t want to be treated as if I’m invisible! There’s a big difference!

  152. says

    So glad to hear of a Christian book acknowledging introverts as normal, healthy, valuable people in the family of God. I am naturally an introvert; solitude is my desire and my source of energy. I don’t enjoy surface-level chit-chat with the masses, yet I can put on the extrovert face as needed. As soon as church is over, however, I want to go home. My husband wants to stay and talk to everyone in the building. I’m tired and hungry, and I feel very stressed about being put in a position where I am forced to “socialize” when all I want to do is leave. I enjoy one-on-one fellowship with close friends, or even deep fellowship in small groups. I’m not a big crowd person, a fashionably-late-so-I-can-be-seen person, or an I-want-to-talk-to-everyone-and-pollinate-the-room person. That doesn’t mean I’m shy or stuck-up. It’s just the way I was created. I’m actually a very deep and introspective person, and if you need to talk about real life, then I’m your girl. We all have different spiritual gifts and callings, and those who are called to be the face and neck and hands should not criticize the elbow, the belly button, or the little toe, for example. One of my favorite verses on this subject is 1 Peter 4:10, which encourages: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Can’t wait to read the book!

    • says

      Wow. This is me :) I was just telling my husband (who, like yours, loves to stay after church and talk to everyone for an hour!) that I’ve come to realize I might be a thumb in the body of Christ. Very useful, yet not particularly glamorous. That’s okay; God made me too. And I want to have faith that God will USE me, that I can love my brothers and sisters fully, even if I do it quietly.
      Rebekah´s last blog post ..an unexpected superhero: or, in which baking soda rocks yet again

  153. Cortni says

    I loved this post. I work in the health field, making small talk with patients ALL DAY- I love my job, but it is absolutely draining. I come home and do not want to talk. At all. I have no reserves left at the end of the day. It’s hard to balance this with my work-at-home husband’s need for socialization, and especially challenging on the days we host our small group. I *need* alone time to feel rested and recharged, but often don’t get to indulge that way. It’s been a learning experience to have to say “no” more often to allow myself to just be alone.

  154. Kimberley says

    I would say it feels terrifying. Faced with answering questions or praying aloud in a small group, or frantically trying to look casual at a women’s gathering when you are really wanting bolt out of the room…these things are terrifying to me. My church seems to be brimming with extroverted women. I’m not sure how to handle it most of the time, so end up regretting things said and done out of panic. Yes, it’s terrifying most of the time.

  155. Stacy says

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments…but I appreciate the thought on this topic. The idea that all woman might not be the same:)! I really have to “make” myself talk and interact so that I do not come off as stuck up or “perfect”. I WORK to share life with others but it is often a struggle and uncomfortable for me. I would prefer to just sit quietly at MOPS! BUT He who is in me is greater and He give me courage and the right words and reminds me to obey the Holy Spirit and not WORRY.

  156. Anne says

    I’ve really appreciated scrolling through these comments and seeing that I’m definitely not alone as an introvert!
    I feel I often wear the ‘extrovert costume’ but at the same time can feel that others know it’s not the genuine me – so I feel like the connections I make aren’t as enriching. I have some close friends and love it when I know they’ll be at a social gathering – I make a bee-line for them, knowing I’ll be ‘safe’. But walking into a crowd of people I don’t know (or even worse; a crowd where I know some but we’ve never connected, can be terrifying).
    My husband is extroverted and is out a lot for work meetings or social sports. It’s just not my thing. I re-energise by staying home. I home-school our 4 children so by the end of the day, I just need time alone anyway. I think my husband feels I use my introversion as an excuse to stay away from social gatherings. If I find someone I’m comfortable with, I can talk on a deeper level for ages. But otherwise, my conversations are short and feel shallow.
    I find I’m often the only one not to speak in group situations. I love to listen and observe. But I feel like others feel I’m not
    participating effectively and sometimes it puts me off returning each time.
    At church, I take on rolls such as sunday school, church cleaning and morning tea. That’s where I feel most comfortable. And I have friends who do kid’s talks, preach and lead worship but no ‘behind the scenes’ work. That’s where they feel most comfortable. I love to serve too – just not infront of everybody and that’s okay :)
    God is good and He is gracious and I’m choosing to trust Him in all the social situations I find myself in. He’s made me introverted fora reason!

  157. Jen says

    I am an introvert…and a pastor’s wife. At our current congregation, I found this to be more problematic than I have in the past. I was chastised gently for not dropping by and visiting people who hadn’t ever invited me. When my husbands went out of town, I always had people calling and pitying me, not understanding I enjoyed the time!

  158. says

    I am a closet introvert. This means that I am able to be social after a long talk with myself about being the older woman and ministering to and training the younger women and just being out there with others the way God wants us to be at times. But I am also the mother of 10, so my calling is at home most of the time. I have to get the business of home done, the character training of 10 souls accomplished daily, not to mention the homeschooling, the laundry, 3 meals a day for 12 people, and everything else I do to keep this “business” running smoothly. THAT is what makes me a pariah at church……mix up the introvertedness (just made that word up. YOu’re welcome.) with the fact that we don’t show up at church every time the doors open, AND…..oh yeah…..we’re military, so that’s a whole OTHER level of social awkwardness, even at church…..and you have a situation that will inevitably be difficult. At least for me.

    You’re right, though. I think if I were a quiet, strong, mysterious man, I would be held to a certain esteem that I don’t find happens. But really? I’m just the tall, weird, snob who doesn’t seem to care too much about church because I’m…you know…being a keeper at home and all. (How DARE I?)

    But in all the years we’ve been in the military, and all the churches we’ve attended in that time, I can honestly say that a quiet woman who has successfully raised children and quietly supports and respects her husband, who, when she DOES speak, her words are wise and healing…..THAT is the woman I am most drawn to. Because she’s real and her testimony of righteous living speaks for itself, and the humility is inspiring, and basically I just want to sit at her feet all day and soak in the wisdom.

    I appreciate what extroverts bring to the table and am thankful that God made them that way. I’m learning to understand that the Lord has different gifts and maybe one of those is being an introvert. I know that if being “out there” all the time and needing that constant social interaction was a part of who I am, I wouldn’t get done what God has given ME to do.
    Allison Heykoop´s last blog post ..The Last Three Weeks

  159. Gayle says

    I would love to read this book! I agree with everyone who has said it’s exhausting being an introvert in the church. Church is community but we often fall prey to a certain definition of community and spirituality and what it’s “supposed” to look like, and introverts often don’t fit that particular mold. It’s easy to feel hurt and guilty for not being a certain way and not being understood for who you really are. Not that those feelings are unique to introverts I’m sure, but I’m not extroverted so I can’t speak to that. :)

  160. says

    I’ve been going to my small church for about 19 years. Regular Sunday attendance is around 200. I sing in the choir, taught a Sunday school class for a while in the early years, and consider these people more my family than my real family (except for my introverted black-sheep sister). That’s why it startled me this last year when people whose face I knew but not their name started saying ‘Hi’ and asking me how I was doing with certain tough situations in my life. I’ve had tough situations in my life for 19 years! Why now?

    I’m a writer, not a talker. I spend a lot of time alone, studying and thinking. The church of course, just like any other organization, recognizes talkers. Let’s face it, talkers have an easier time with the great commission; spreading the gospel of good news to those who’ve never heard it or just never listened. I think listening for most people is easier than reading.

    But in the last year I’ve said and written a few things that got around to the church. First, I was asked by the pastor, with whom I’ve exchanged emails for several years, to write and deliver a short prayer during the service. I did, and I think that was the first time anyone in my church noticed that I speak on occasion. Second, I mentioned to a choir friend that I was having a hard time financially. He’s a talker. Shortly thereafter the whole choir knew of my situation and gave me a good deal of financial help. Third, I sang a solo and I think did a horrible job. Miss silent is human after all! And fourth, I started a blog and got up the gumption to tell a few people. I think a few actually read it. The point is, even a little out-of-the-shell effort makes people realize that perhaps an introvert is not as stand-offish as they seem.

    There are still many people there whose face I’ve seen for years but who’s name I’ll never know. There are even many who’s name I know and face I see often with whom I’ll never feel close because they are also introverts who I think are a bit stuffy. See, even I judge based on being introverted or extroverted. Maybe in another 20 years I’ll get to know them too.

  161. Maya says

    A lot of great comments made already by so many… I just wanted to add that, as a person working in the Middle East, I interact with a lot of “eastern” mindsets rather than “western” ones and I do believe that the value we place on “extroverted women” may be very much a western cultural thing. Just a thought. :) Anyone else have insight into this?

    • says

      Oh, yes, this is definitely a discussion about the American Evangelical church. Other cultures, such as Japan, may put such an emphasis on introversion that extraversion is the looked-down-upon trait.
      Susan Cain in her book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking” has a very fascinating analysis of the cultural and historical factors that led the United States to be this way.

  162. says

    For me I’ve often felt like an outsider, like I don’t fit in or left out. Thankfully the friends I have at the church we attend now understand my introversion. They still invite me to things and understand if I need to say no. We are also fortunate to be in a church where they want you to serve in your gifts and strengths. But I have been in a church where they only wanted you to volunteer because they needed a warm body and guilted you when you said no to something that didn’t use your strengths or gifts. And so many from that church wonder why we left. It’s hard to grow and serve in a place that has burned you out.
    Amy Nabors´s last blog post ..Giving Up “hope”

  163. Cathy says

    I think it is extremely difficult for an introvert to be in such social circles such as church, meetings, groups, etc. I have had experience with people thinking I am stuck up, or even ‘perfect’, just because I am quiet and not as outgoing as they are. But, they just make assumptions based on what’s on the outside and don’t get to know me. I don’t like my personal life spilled out for all to see or hear about. I have a couple of close friends (and my husband) and that’s all I need, because superficial relationships are exhausting to me — I just don’t have the time for that in my life anymore. I don’t hide in a closet, and I do put myself out there in social situations, but at times, it can be excruciatingly difficult and it takes time for me to recover. One on one, I do much better. I can share my heart and soul with someone, and freely will if they are ‘real’, while being able to really care and listen to their heart. It used to bother me quite a bit that I am not like so many other people, especially in the church. Interestingly, my best friend is a Type-A personality and huge extrovert, and it seems like she can do anything and has endless energy. That used to bother me, as it bothered me that I just couldn’t do as much as, be like, or talk as much as her or other people. I had to quit comparing myself to others, and I had to realize that I am exactly how God made me, and to realize my limitations. Social things of any sort take alot out of me, physically and emotionally. Most folks just don’t understand that. I also would much rather have a real, true and deep conversation with one person than something superficial with many, so small talk is very hard for me. I just don’t know how to do it (and part of me doesn’t see the point). It’s sad that introverts are so often misjudged, especially in the church, just because we are shy. We really do have good things to say and share! Unfortunately, folks just don’t take the time to find out who we truly are.

  164. Marisa says

    My extroverted aunt, in whose house I was living at the time, was loudly and lovingly scolding me for not being more social, not joining in, & staying by myself too much.

    I explained to her that I’m not being stand-offish or rejecting the people involved in the social events. I’m just an introvert and really need significant alone-time to recharge.

    “Oh, Marisa!” She said with a big hug and a laugh. “You’re not an introvert–you’re a very nice person!”

    She had no intention of being ironic.

  165. says

    Can I ever relate to this question! I was the only mother in our little group at church that did not participate in a preschool co-op, because I could not stand the chaos and constant noise and demand for interaction. Blessedly, my friends just wrote me off as “crunchy,” or “granola,” rather than taking offense. But I have lost two long term friends due to misunderstanding about my introversion. Once I had children, I could no longer pretend to be an extrovert and try to keep up with their rapid pace and need for constant stimulation and activity changes. They did not understand that three hours with them meant I could not bear to be around other people outside my little family for at least three days. They mistook my lack of enthusiasm for meeting in busy public places as indifference, and mistook my moodiness after intense emotional experiences and interactions with crowds as “social deviance.” I tried to explain, but some people are just too busy keeping themselves busy to hear.

    Of all of my long term friends, I think all are either introverts or married to an introvert. I lead a lot at church, but I have switched more and more toward steering committees rather than front person jobs.

    I already have the book mentioned on Kindle and in a hard copy, so please don’t pick me. But thank you for asking about this topic! I wish more people understood the differences temperament can make in one’s energy level in crowds.

  166. Sarah says

    It’s certainly exhausting to be an introverted woman in the church. And overwhelming. But mostly exhausting. I find myself constantly struggling to balance my desire (need?) for solitude with my desire to engage with my community relationally. There’s a lot of intentionality going on in both camps, at least for me; I have to be intentional to carve away solitude, as well as having to be intentional about pursuing relationships. It feels like a lot of work, which means I definitely am having to work at believing that the Lord will equip me to pursue those relationships I’m called to pursue. Even if it’s hard.

  167. says

    After rebukes from educators and Bible study leaders alike (that I needed to speak up more), I have learned to put on that extrovert costume an earlier commenter mentioned. Reading Susan Cain’s book _Quiet_ recently had me in tears almost every day, just because I finally felt understood and acceptable even though I’d rather stay home and read than go out with a group. My beloved church home of many years, until a relocation, did make me feel just like the description in the first paragraphs of the post, that the ideal Christian woman was an extrovert whose home and pantry were always ready to host a meal for an unexpected group or family. Hospitality is a beautiful gift, but I don’t have it, and it was exhausting and fretful to try to live up to that standard.

    Blogging has actually been a freedom and a gift. In this world I have met more women like me than I ever did in “real life.” That said, I do have a habit at a social event of discovering and latching onto the one other introvert in the room. We can be quiet and people-watch together and be all right with that.

    Thanks for the post and opportunity to, um, speak up.

  168. Julie says

    Speak the truth! Pretending to be outgoing is painful and requires a lot of energy that must be compensated for later. But once I reach a comfort level with people it’s much easier. This can take many years. I’m also the only introvert in a family of extroverts and that has been a challenge too. As I get older, I’m much more comfortable in asserting myself and staying home to recharge when I need to.

    Thank you for this conversation and its valuable insights.

  169. Esther says

    I agree very much with this post. As an introverted churchgoing woman, I am involved with many typical “extroverted” areas, such as teaching, serving, leadership, bible studies, and volunteering. I go about it in a way that feels comfortable to me. Many people know about me, but there are very few or none who actually who “know” the real me. I am very private about my thoughts and feelings. It takes me a long time to open up. I used to feel the pressure to conform to the average extroverted female who wears her heart and emotions on her sleeves, chit-chats effortlessly about every topic under the sun, and be involved in every committee! However, I feel comfortable being me and that is what makes me unique, special, and different. I wouldn’t change who I am because God made my personality special, so I can fulfill his purpose in my life.

  170. Kit says

    Frankly, church and church events feel fake to me because of this. Like Laura said, I’m expected to put on some sort of costume or act, and chat it up with people, all the while I’m thinking that if they truly knew me, they’d know I’m just acting. But either they don’t really know me or we’re all just supposed to act and use the positive churchy lingo, and nobody actually cares what your real answer to “how are you” would really be. Any way you slice it, I can’t wait to leave and I go home feeling very “unknown” and thus sad because it’s a place I should be “known” more than any other.

  171. says

    Whoa. Reading these comments was an eye opening and heart wrenching experience. Thanks to all of your for your powerful honesty. As an introvert, I’m not much into hugging strangers, but this kind of makes me want to make an exception.
    Adam McHugh´s last blog post ..A Very Special Guest Post

  172. says

    Being introverted…well, it can be lonely. I can fake being extroverted, but it’s exhausting, and as I grow older, I’m learning that sometimes its better not to pretend. I have a hard time reaching out to those in my church home that I admire, that I would love to be friends with, because I don’t want to intrude, possibly because I’m so aware when someone intrudes on my own time/space. I do have a knack for drawing people to ‘confession’. They tell me their life’s story, because I listen, but then no friendship follows. I feel forgotten often because of this, even when I do reach out. This sounds very pitiful doesn’t it?
    The beautiful thing is that there are a few ladies who have not let me stay hidden. They are extremely extroverted, and yet notice when I am silent and invite me into the conversation. They are generous to me, and I’m learning, slowly, to be generous in return. While none of them are my “best friend”, (I do feel back in high school saying that sometimes) I’ve learned that my husband, and more so God, will be enough for me in that respect. And so I am thankful.
    Karen´s last blog post ..Strawberry Pie.

  173. Anna says

    I am so glad there is a book out there about what I’ve been dealing with for so many years. I can’t wait to read it!

  174. says

    Amen. It’s all I can do to do church AND Bible study each week. Especially with a toddler at home, and alone time practically impossible, church sometimes seems to be another place that drains me. I go on time and leave quickly after talking to my 2-3 friends. I so cherish these friendships, but big crowds make me nervous and I end up going the opposite way of being quiet when I’m in that situation – I speak without thinking and always always regret what I said (I fear it was silly, not thought out, irrelevant, annoying). I am so much more of an “extrovert” when I’m in my own home, enjoying the company of 1-4 close friends. And those few good ones totally fill my friend cup, I don’t need any more. I do try to reach out to new people, as I can identify with their nerves, and volunteer where I won’t be easily seen (like baking something for a potluck or working in the nursery with my kiddo).
    Kayse @ Finding Hope´s last blog post ..I really should get off the couch…

  175. Sue says

    I read Adam’s book a few months ago and felt validated in my feelings regarding introverts in the church. In the church, there is most certainly an ideal christian that is based on having extroverted qualities. If someone doesn’t run to hug, pray out loud, or belt out worship songs, and if one doesn’t flail arms passionately about, they must not be a good christian. The message I’ve received is this constant push to be extroverted in the name of the Lord.

  176. Lisa says

    I’m so happy to see someone addressing this! I read through several comments before I realized there probably isn’t much I could add besides my own “amen”. But I will say this, it’s taken me nearly 40 years of life on this extroverted planet to realize that it’s okay to be me. And most of the time I forget and have to have Jesus remind me of it all over again.

  177. Sandy says

    Being introverted in any circle can, of course, be a challenge; I’m not always good at making small talk.

    Thankfully, God has guided me in this journey and is working with me to be more outgoing and, even to feel comfortable to speak in front of a group. With Jesus walking beside me, it’s like the journey from caterpillar to butterfly where, in time I will be comfortable in most situations and be able to talk to the stranger much more easily or, offer my opinion more readily. When we turn to Him, anything is possible!

  178. Steph says

    I don’t know if I can add muc to whahasmalreadybeen said but I wanted to reiterate something said towards the top of this list. It is very hard to be an introvert and SINGLE in the church.there have been so many times that I have tried new singles’ groups, small groups or studies and have wanted, more than anything to connect with people. I have moved a lot in the las few years as I finished grad school and now starting a new career. I ernestly desire close friendships but it is so hard to find. M closes friends now are the same ones I had in high school. I truly love them but they don’t go to my church or don’t run in the same circles so I am still all alone there. I have tried to be social in these settings but agree that it is exhausting. People have told me I should just “try harder” but wha do they want me to do? They want me to be someone else, someone I don’t know how to be. 8 am also very intellectual and I think I hide behind this knowledge in social settings because it is comfortable. It is easier to share my thoughts and opines than engage in small talk and socialize. I look forward to reading this book. It is definitely on my summer reading list!

  179. says

    I would agree with every comment that expressed that it is exhausting being an introvert in the church.
    The word “community” is a word that carries a lot of weight in church circles.
    It is easy to feel like you are being anti-social if you don’t feel up to going to every potluck or gathering.
    I will be 48 this summer and it is only in the last couple of years that I have come to terms with my introversion.
    I believe in my younger years, I did mask it with activity and then needs weeks to recover.
    Now I feel less apologetic about saying “no”. I can’t do everything nor am I required.
    I look at my week and I make sure that there are built in times to refuel and if not, I have to figure out what has to be declined.
    I hope many of you will give yourself the grace to embrace how God carved you earlier than I have. I do also think that it is difficult to navigate relationship because often introverts are highly sought after for relationship because of calm demeanor and listening abilities.
    Thanks for the great interview!
    Helen´s last blog post ..friday high five: the inside outside summer edition

  180. Lisa Adams says

    Church has got to be the toughest place for an introvert like me to connect. I have all but given up. I don’t do well in church settings. At all.

  181. Nana says

    I left the Church years ago because I was uncomfortable there. Now, at age 65, I still think about joining again because I truly believe in the institution, but I know the same issues will be there. I don’t enjoy fellowship, folks. I much prefer just being with my family or being alone. And I am not lonely. I have an abundance of spiritual materials which I enjoy and need, but people tend to expect more than what I’m able or willing to give. I’m kind of eccentric I guess and I like my eccentricity but at the same time I’m bothered because it’s not acceptable to be “different”. I don’t want to dress up and make small talk and all that. It’s not really a matter of shyness. Actually, I behave like an extrovert when I’m with people but I’m a real introvert at heart. And I’m a big hearted introvert if I do say so myself. I have so many opportunities to show kindness to strangers and I love it–and I especially love the anonymity of it.

  182. Heather W. says

    I am almost embarrased to say that I have always felt like there was something “wrong” with me before reading this. I figured that I needed to be more “spiritual”, “outgoing”, and (my favorite) “step out of my comfort zone”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with these things, but it just isn’t how I’m made. Thanks for the eye-opening post!

  183. Jennifer says

    So many people think that I am an extrovert because I do step up and take the lead sometimes, or seek ways to participate, or start conversations. Nothing could be further from the truth. And that is not because I’ve put on a costume of any sort.

    I’ve learned to put on Christ. I can’t do any of the above mentioned things without Him standing beside me, holding my elbow as He steers me through the crowd, introducing me to another of His children.

    I’m always nervous (though, over time that is lessening), always afraid of being judged, always afraid that my skirt is tucked into my panties, revealing my rear end. And yet, He gets me through it.

    I grew up in the Ministry Fishbowl…my dad has been an assistant or head pastor and my mother a doting pastor’s wife (who has sung in the choir and taught Sunday School and lead the Women’s Ministry, and hosted brunches for the deacons and their wives, among a myriad of other “pastor’s wife’s duties”) for three decades. So pretty much anything I said or did or wore or accomplished or didn’t accomplish was commented on, usually in public and usually without regard to my presence. This, combined with moving every 3-4 years “as the Lord called” and having meet-and-greets with our “new church family” who just had to get to know all about us, AND entering new school systems and neighborhoods…well, you can imagine where that left my self-esteem and self-confidence.

    I could feel my ears redden, my heart race, the sweat permeate my armpits and my upper lip just as soon as I walked in the church doors. I would think, “What do they think of me? Did I say the right words? Do I fit in? Who will be my friend? Who can I trust?”, etc, etc.

    But somewhere along the way (actually, sometime in my adult years), I realized it isn’t about me. Never was. It was about Christ.

    It’s not about what they think of me. It’s about what they think of Christ.

    It’s not about how they see me. It’s about how they see Christ.

    It’s not about what they say to me or about me in my presence or lack thereof. It’s about what they say about Christ.

    It’s not about me and what I’ve accomplished. It’s about Christ and what He has accomplished.

    Basically, I had to get out of the way…rather, I had get over myself and my warped idol worship and let Him work.

    I also think there is a common misconception about extroverts in general. If we see someone who is very talkative or actively involved in the church, we think they are spilling all of their thoughts and beliefs out for us to see and hear. That is simply not true. And shame on us for thinking so. Who are we to say that we know all about them? Their true feelings and concerns and fears and thoughts and dreams? That is a place reserved only for God, and their spouse if they are married. And to think that I DO know all about someone based on their activity level is an act of judgment on my part. The very same act that I am afraid they are doing to me when I enter a crowded room and stand in the corner instead of joining the conversation.

    No, most likely those “extroverts” aren’t putting on a costume or even a brave-face mask so that you can’t see them. Most likely, they are putting on Christ to help them see what needs to be done, who needs to be made to feel welcome, where they need to serve to best accomplish His will.

    So, just because you see me starting a Bible study, or singing with the band, or greeting visitors at the door, or anything else…don’t think that you know me. You don’t. I haven’t told you everything about me and I probably never will, and that’s okay.

    You might get to know my name, my family’s names, my hobbies, some tricks I’ve learned in the kitchen or around the house. But hopefully, you’re not really seeing me and my sweaty armpits.

    Hopefully, instead, you are seeing Christ. And I pray that you come to know Him as intimately as He knows you.

    • says

      Love this! To live is Christ! Whether or not your an introvert or extrovert. I know the introverts don’t understand this but the extroverts struggle too—-especially to follow and not always have to lead, to feel they need to be out front. For the extrovert it is a challenge to decrease that He might increase. For in the introvert, they see that verse and say, “Thank you, Jesus!”

      Thanks for sharing your life in Christ.

  184. Sherry says

    The book may be a help to me! My introverted daughter has said I am “overwhelming”, my close friend insists I drive while we talk so she can think about her replies, women in the Bible study in my home sometimes don’t comment for weeks (although I do ask for input). I try to share the floor equally (really!), but maybe I need a little glimpse into the private thoughts of the introvert. I know they are keeping valuable thoughts to themselves!

  185. says

    It’s exhausting…through years of church “culturing” I can usually force myself to make friends, especially if the group is small enough, or if it’s doing something together like nursery, but the amount of emotional effort that goes in behind the scenes is tiring. We just left a church and I realized the only people I even knew on a first name basis were the 4 or 5 moms form my mom group, and them I’m in relationship with whether I go to church on sunday or not. The thought of starting over somewhere is new is almost unbearable. I know I”ll be asked to teach sunday school before I’m every asked if I want to meet up with someone for coffee.

  186. Sarah Gingrich says

    More often than not, I think, the question should not be about our giftings, personalities, struggles, etc. It seems more appropriate to swallow the harder one: “Am I being obedient, shaped as I am, gifted and flawed as I am?” We see God’s love of variety in everything from leaves, to butterflies, planets, and certainly, people. Perhaps those who are more inward have a different capacity for listening to His “still small voice” than those who are forever outward, who in turn, have greater capacity for extending His love and knowledge of Him to others. The true test is in this: should God call the introvert to speak or the extrovert to be silent, are they heeding His voice?

  187. Ruth in NZ says

    I think I am one of those combination type people. I really enjoy interacting with people, especially if I can really interact and not just stay at small talk. However, I also need space and find I have to push myself to go to things sometimes. I would agree with the commenter above who suggested that all those extroverts may not find it as easy as introverts sometimes think it is. I am a chatty, leadery type person and there was a stage when I went to Bible Studies with “Shut up!” written on my hand! I used to wonder a lot if people thought I talked too much or what they thought of what I said. My sister is even more extroverted than me, and growing up you noticed, she had the crowds of people around her, but her more introverted friend was the one who went on to develop those friendships into ones that lasted over time. The reality was that her “extrovertism” was a cover up for feeling inadequate. This will not apply to everyone but I think that really feeling satisfied and deeply grounded in her relationship with God, through Christ, is the first step to a woman enjoying and being able to bless in her relationships with others, whether she wants 100 or just one or two.

  188. Aubrey says

    I absolutely hate the “stand up and shake each other’s hands, try to meet someone new” part of church. I’ve discovered it’s a great time to get some hand lotion from the bathroom.

    I am in a small leadership role in my church, and I feel even more pressured to be an extrovert. My co-leader at Sunday School always tells me I need to stay in closer touch with the group, call up the wives every week and see how they’re doing. I hold my phone in my hand and just stare at it, coaching myself through how to sound like talking to people is easy, then just give up and write them a quick note on Facebook.

    Women’s ministry events are hard. They are fun, I enjoy the fellowship and the devotionals, but they are still hard. I sincerely like all the women at my church and enjoy being with them, I just don’t want them all up in my face. I don’t want a women’s ministry leader to tell me what I have to talk about with the ladies at my table. A lull in the conversation does not mean the Holy Spirit is not blessing the fellowship at your event.

    I am a public speaker, which is hilarious, but it’s actually kind of easy for me. I realized it’s because it’s the same thing as talking to yourself!

  189. Gini says

    Introversion is rough at church if you’re female.

    I am friendly, but very private. The fact that I don’t share as much, and also that I work outside of the home in an administrative job, seems to make people think I am standoffish, I think. I am really not– I truly care about what is happening to those around me, but I can see where if I’m not telling all about my stress or asking about what happened when a couple was arguing in the parking lot after church the night before, it seems like I don’t want to be in touch, I guess. It’s hard– I do have close friends, but have a lot of difficulty friending the very extroverted personalities at times– especially if they are “sharing” about others so that they can pray for them to a group of eager listeners/story interjectors– sometimes it seems a bit more like gossip, and it makes me uncomfortable. A lot of women really seem to bond in this way, though. I compensate by not being as involved in all of the daily activities, and helping out with the things that have less volunteers, but is still needed. Overall, I am fine being the wallflower when it comes to staying out of the drama. ;)
    Gini´s last blog post ..home goal 2012 – the kitchen renovation

  190. Tina says

    Oh, I love all of you- you make me feel so “normal”. I am introverted- work hard to play the extroverted part in social situations- but SO often end up feeling faky…. so I’m SO glad to be in the company of so many others! Hallelujah!

  191. Jodi says

    Oh my goodness, this has hit home for me! My husband was made an elder last year, definitely seen as the strong, silent type. He works in IT and is in front of a computer all day, he doesn’t empty his social tank everyday, it’s full and ready to see people on the weekend. I’ve found my niche working behind the scenes, yet because I’m good at what I do (naturally organized, will fix a problem when I see it) I keep getting asked to lead bible study. I get butterflies just typing it, let alone speaking in front of others. I’m a SAHM mom, alone only when my kids are asleep, I’m drained by the end of the day. As they get older, I know it will change but for this season, it’s exhausting. As an elder, he/we are expected to regularly have families over to break down some of those barriers, yet we’d have to do it almost every weekend to keep up and I just can’t! Some suggest we invite 3 families at a time, excuse me?! I know I won’t enjoy it, I much prefer to have one family over to connect 1 on 1 with the wife. Once it turns in to a party atmosphere, I’m sunk and stop interacting. It is such a challenge!

    However, I am encouraged that introvert/extravert behavior is becoming more studied if that’s the right word, at least *some* people are aware. We have several introverts in leadership to balance out the extraverts. We are mindful that we are to be families and not scheduled to be at church every single night. I’ve made it a goal to stand up for the introverts, to not overwhelm people. In the past, I’ve been accused of being stuck up and a difficult person to be a friend with. When new folks come, I try not to assume anything and give them space if they are reserved. Yet, I’ve been there of wanting to make a friend. Fortunately, I remember details about people (still working on the names…) but at least remember tidbits people share and try to connect those with a similar interest, I think women especially appreciate it.

  192. Caroline says

    Brilliantly expressed. I couldn’t agree more!
    I am currently living in the home of a dear friend who is a strong extrovert. I find it exhausting just thinking about returning “home” each day, because I just want to walk in the house and go straight to my sanctuary, and not feel like I have to engage in small talk as I come and go. She tells me I’m hard to read. Ughh!

  193. Sanchia Marshall says

    Wow, I just stumbled across this in a like from Nesting Place. And besides the fact that I will now be following your blog, you have voiced something I have always struggled with. Its an even bigger struggle now that I am a young Mum with two boys and being social is just a part of life and church in particular. The last 12 months its something I have battled with alot.

    I am 32 and a definite introvert. I have always admired those who are as you described in your post as the ideal. And I have so often wondered how they do it. I have tried and cant keep up or just wear myself out that I have to hibernate for a few months to recoup. With alot of prayer I am starting to see the light :). I dont have to keep up, I just have to be me. Its ok to be myself, to have my space and do things at a different pace. Balance is the key and finding and keeping that is the hard part. What to balance for an extrovert will be different than it is for us introverts.

    It reminds me of one of the most fun times I had at church. I was on the Women’s Ministry Team and we held a high tea. Everyone worked together so well and all those who came had an amazing time. I had to push myself to go around and chat to everyone once the tea started, but before that I spend a morning putting the event together in the kitchen with two amazing women who I chatted with and got to know so well while we were ‘doing’. I was in my element. Its moments like those that made me realise that the way I will get to know people and make a difference in church will just be different to how someone else will. It wont be a leadership role for me, but a behind the scenes attention to detail one. I think only God can show us how to be comfortable in our own skin and show us where we can shine and do his work to the best of our ability.

    Thanks for your post xox

  194. Aimee says

    I think this is a continuum. I always thought I was an extrovert because I was the loud girl in social situations. Now that I have a family (3, number 4 on the way), I see that I was able to be “on” in social situations and then go home and read a book. Now, social situations are much more difficult because my reserves are already depleted. I can imagine that being very introverted would be difficult because many would not understand.

    I am blessed to have a husband who works hard to understand this and a church family who supports me when I say “no” to an obligation because I need to find some down time.

  195. says

    I’ve found that being an introvert can leave me feeling left out in group situations. It’s painful to go to Bible study and everyone is hugging everyone else, but you’re on the outside…or to hear that everyone else is connecting through the week, but you haven’t had contact with anyone. I don’t think anyone means to overlook me, but maybe the quietness gives the impression that I don’t need the friendship…that perception of standoffishness or being stuck up that you mentioned. I try to make the effort to reach out, but as so many others have mentioned, it feels fake and I’m sure others pick up on that. I am the person people come to when they need something done, but I’d love to be the person people want for a friend.
    Stacy´s last blog post ..Angels Among Us

  196. Jen says

    It feels lonely, sometimes disconnected. I often feel so envious of the extroverted people around me and how I could never be like them. They seem to have more fun, yet I enjoy my inner world and meeting with friends 1:1. It’s a struggle overall and I most certainly feel misunderstood or judged for my silence or lack of desire to jump into activities that the extroverts have no trouble participating in every moment of the day….

  197. says

    I am an introvert who used to be a worship leader. After putting myself out there like that I would come home from church every sunday and sleep for the rest of the day. I was very picky about the kinds of social events I was involved in the rest of the week because of how much that position took out of me each week. It was only by God’s strength and grace that I was able to put myself in that kind of very up front and vulnerable position. After 10 years on the worship team I felt strongly that God was asking me to step down. I needed a break! No one in church had every related to me in any way other than as their worship leader. I’m sure they thought I was an outgoing, gregarious person because they were used to seeing me on stage. They couldn’t understand why I was stepping down and couldn’t accept that I needed a break. I was stunned when I quit and no one even thanked me for my 10 years of service. No one talked to me at all. It was like I ceased to exist, literally. I haven’t been to church in over 4 years now and they never did/never have talked to me. So… there you go.
    Sandy´s last blog post ..don’t plan on it…

  198. Deborah Need says

    Hi! I’m an extrovert with a heart full of love for introverts. I see you at church and want very much to be a source of encouragement to you but I’m hesitant to walk over and talk to you because you seem so very uncomfortable and I don’t want to increase your discomfort. How can I let you know that I won’t judge you just because you’re quiet and that I truly want to know you better. Should I write you a card and send it to you at home? Should I try to talk to you anyway? I know you don’t like to be asked lots of questions, so I’ve probably already said too much!

    • says

      I love your post. It’s very encouraging.
      I don’t think we need people to tiptoe around us and be afraid that every interaction is going to send us into a quiet, internal rage against the extraverted world. (At least I jolly well hope not.) We just need people to see us, and appreciate us, and not feel sorry for us if we’re alone, and like us as our own human selves.
      We (i.e. the majority of but not necessarily all introverts) want meaningful interactions. If you’re going to come talk to us, come talk to us and listen to us. Don’t just say, as so often happens, “Hi, I’m [name], nice to see you here, bye” and run off to talk to someone else. I for one would rather not have an interaction at all than have it be like that. If you show that you have genuine interest in us and are willing to listen as well as talk and to talk as well as listen and to have a real, meaningful conversation about some mutually interesting topic, many an introvert will be delighted to make your acquaintance.
      Case in point: yesterday I went to a church potluck. It’s a largeish church, and I am fairly new there and sort of know about three people. I didn’t see any of them, so I sat and ate by myself. Usually I love to sit and eat by myself, but there are a few occasions I feel I would like to be with a good friend rather than by myself, and a church potluck is one of them (but I prefer sitting by myself in the actual church service). I actually like potlucks, mostly because I just like food.
      Just as I was about to leave, a woman I had never seen before walked up to me and announced that she wanted to get to know me. This was instantly intriguing to me, because I often feel that I am worth getting to know but that few people really want to do it. She asked me some questions that led me to talk, such as what I like to do when I’m not working. (Admittedly, I would prefer to answer questions about myself than to have to think up questions to ask people, which I always find very awkward and rarely interesting–I prefer learning people’s details about their lives slowly and over the course of many interactions as I come to know and like them.) My talking about what I like to do led us into a subject of great mutual interest, the spiritual and physical intersection of psychological disorders, and we ended up talking for nearly two hours and I was one of the last people to leave the church, actually feeling energized rather than drained. Discussions like that are of great satisfaction and pleasure to me. I felt valued and also intellectually stimulated.
      I want to feel that a person who talks to me is actually interested in me and doesn’t just want to hear herself talk or splurt out her quota of words for the day with no interest in the person receiving the words.

      Hopefully this helps somewhat.

    • Andrea says

      Please, do talk to us introverts! It’s hard for us to begin something, but we’re people and need contact and communication. Introduce yourself, talk about things you would talk about to anyone! It really is so encouraging when people take an interest, despite our uncomfortable looks.

  199. Deborah Need says

    I forgot to indicate that I’d like to be notified of replies by email so please reply here, if you like. Thanks!

    • says

      Yes, talk to us! But quietly, and not when someone else is trying to get our attention. If two people are trying to talk to me at once, I have to resist the urge to physically put my hands over my ears – I feel like I can’t possibly make both people happy, and that stresses me out worse than being alone.

      For me, the best thing someone could POSSIBLY do is ask me if I want to get together outside of church, and then instead of saying “We should do that sometime!”, say “How about Wednesday? No? Can you do Thursday? Great!” I ache for connection, but at church in all the noise (echoey floors) and distraction (I have no idea where my 13-year-old just went) and limited time (my 9-year-old has to be at his Cub Scout barbecue by 2:00 and we need to eat lunch and find the directions and DANG IT I forgot to wash his shirt) … well, by the time I get comfortable enough to actually talk, it’s time for us all to leave!

      When someone says “We should get together!”, I no longer interpret that as an actual invitation – it’s just a nice squawky noise women make that means “I am happy today, you are part of my world today, how nice!” After too many instances of taking a very deep breath and calling or emailing women who’ve said that, only to have them be perpetually busy (or just not return my calls), I can promise you that I am not going to just pick up the phone some afternoon and bravely invite you to lunch. If you say you want to talk and actually follow up on it, then I know you actually DO want to talk. If we go to coffee somewhere (preferably not at the kind of coffee shop where baristas are hollering and people are shoving past our table every thirty seconds), then there’s an excellent chance that we’ll actually have a conversation.

      And then you might find out that I’m not actually shy at all. You might find out that even though I’m smart, I’m not actually intimidating at all. You might find out that even though I don’t play the piano in the worship band any more, I kept practicing and now I play classical piano for a living, and I would LOVE to play for your cousin’s wedding! (See, it’s worth the price of coffee already!) You might find out that I have a killer sense of humor. You might find out that I have migraines and I’m tired a lot, that I’ve watched every single episode of Stargate SG-1, that I’ve walked two marathons, and that I’m allergic to my cat but I’m too tenderhearted to give him up.

      And I might find out more about you – I might find out that you’re not always high-energy, that you have introspective moments, that you also have moments of utter terror about the approaching teen years or toddler years or retirement. I would love to find those things out, when it’s quiet and there’s not a 10-minute time limit and I don’t have to shout over the worship band’s over-enthusiastic postlude.

      I would love that.
      Bee´s last blog post ..New Themes: Blog Simple and Skylark

  200. says

    Hard. Sometimes scary. I have to make an effort to get to know people, often end up feeling left out and unnoticed. Introversion is not easy, especially in the church.

  201. Amy says

    It’s hard to be an introvert in the church (and in our culture in general!) and as others have said, you feel pressure to be more outgoing, more talkative and if you don’t you become “invisible” or people think you’re stuck up. I enjoy being with others, particularly one on one or in small groups, and I deeply desire close friendships but I’m not good at small talk or at making strong connections. At church I still fight my introversion and try to be really friendly and smile a lot so people don’t think I’m snobby. But even still I’m quiet a lot. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone. Too bad us introverts never know what to say to each other, otherwise we’d be great friends! I notice that my closest friends as well as my husband are extroverts. It’s just easier because they LOVE to talk which takes the pressure off. :) I think I’m going to try and read this book, it sounds like a good one!

  202. MJ says

    Whether we are an introvert or an extrovert, we cannot use that as an excuse to be rude, either by appearing unfriendly or by taking over a conversation. When people come into the church, those who are introverts need to ‘get over themselves’ and reach out just as much as those who are extroverts need to ‘get over themselves’ and not monopolize a conversation. Personality is simply that…it is the flawed expression of our fallen human nature. We are to be balanced in Christ, by His Holy Spirit, and follow His Word which says, “to do good and to communicate (not being stubbornly silent or foolishly yabbering, but to *communicate*) forget not, for *with such SACRIFICES* God is well pleased”

    The danger in our society is to rely on our humanity, to accept our flaws as “the way God made me” (which is what gays say) or “the way I was raised” (which is what racists say), rather than to submit our sinful self to God and ask Him to balance us and produce within our lives the fruit of the Spirit which will allow others to “taste and see that the Lord is good”

    If someone is telling you that you are coming across as unfriendly, or as *too* friendly, that is how *you* are representing Christ to that person. A better response than blaming on some nebulous ‘unchanging’ factor would be to seek the Lord and His Word for ways in which you can better represent Him.

    There are too many “one another” verses to believe that it is “okay” to use being an introvert as an excuse to not fellowship, reach out, be friendly, or help others. There are too many “one another” verses to believe that it is “okay” to speak-without-listening, take over a group, or boss others around. Neither personality type justifies the behavior.

    ….can you guess which type I am? LOL….

    Have a beautiful and blessed day! And don’t allow your flaws to receive coddling, appreciate the criticism you receive from others, and take it to the Lord…every time!

    In His Care,
    MJ

    • Rosemary says

      There have been very few replies on this thread in which I sensed that responders were “playing Holy Spirit,” engaging in hyper-spiritualized replies that were, in effect, subtle (or not so subtle) putdowns of the message. Which is remarkable, actually. So few, I was delighted and encouraged.

      Unfortunately, this is one of the few that, in my opinion, did so. I may be misreading it, but it comes across as shaming — an attempt to once again echo and reinforce hurtful messages.

      Sorry, I don’t think that will work anymore. Too many liberating truths have been told on this thread. That particular genie won’t go back into the bottle.

  203. says

    Introverted? At least partially. yes, I can be smiley and talkative for a period of time, but then my social springs run down and I need some rest!

    Sometimes I do feel like I’m wearing a mask at social functions. More and more, though, I’m okay with being honest: pleasant and friendly, but not running all over the room trying to jump into large groups and start boisterous conversations. I just can’t do that. I can’t handle fifteen people at once–in crowd settings I get overwhelmed and withdraw into my own thoughts. Yet give me one or two and a mug of tea, and I’ll happily talk for hours.

    I think that characteristic can be both good and bad. I’m a smart and organized woman (she says humbly…) who needs alone time to process her thoughts, write things down, make plans. However, I’ve also used my introversion as an excuse for selfishness: “Well, it’s hard for me to chat with people I don’t know, so I won’t go introduce myself to that new couple over there.” I don’t think that’s okay. God calls us ALL to love one another. Perhaps loudly and perhaps quietly, perhaps in groups and perhaps individually, but definitely to love. If I hide behind shyness to avoid opportunities for service or compassion, that’s allowing sin to take advantage of my personality.

    I have been slowly discovering that it’s still possible for me to be a part of church, and part of “community,” without forcing myself into pretending to be a social butterfly.

    We introverts do need to guard against self-pity and fear. As a previous commenter remarked, God is with us even in a crowd. Even when I feel like I’m drowning in small talk, He will provide a way out, a way to love others and glorify Him. For me, that might mean staying in the group and listening closely; later when I have a chance to talk to one of them individually, I can follow up on something they said. It might mean looking around the room for somebody who’s standing by herself. Honestly, it might mean politely excusing myself, going home, and praying–writing encouraging notes–or emailing a friend to set up a time we can get together!

    Quiet women: God can use you and he values you. Place your gifts into His hands. Saturate your mind with His truth in Scripture! He’ll guide your steps and His love will never fail you.
    Rebekah´s last blog post ..an unexpected superhero: or, in which baking soda rocks yet again

  204. says

    Ha! Trying being an introverted woman with Asperger’s syndrome in an extroverted church!

    Reading these comments, I’m amazed at the number of similarities between introverted women’s church experiences and Aspies’ experiences with life in general. There is a pervasive sense of being an outsider and wanting desperately to fit in, to figure out how to talk to people, to serve in a way that fits the way God made us, and to help other people understand that we’re not broken and unusable – we’re just wired differently.

    I got so completely fed up and blind exhausted that I stepped out of a very public worship ministry after church one Sunday evening in 2005 and never went back. I feel often that what I can contribute is not what is needed, so I stay in the background – I help in my son’s Children’s Church program once every 3-4 weeks because it’s required, but that’s pretty much it.

    I can offer a listening ear and one-on-one conversation. My church promotes large group activities.

    I value quiet. My church likes noise.

    I ache for continuity and the depth of meaning in the familiar. My church craves novelty.

    I have felt many times that I was called to lead in some official but low-profile way. My church only hires men.

    I am a classically trained pianist, and I do this professionally. My church prefers a guitar-centric pop band.

    My church is all about healthy families. I got out of a deeply unhealthy marriage and my relationship with God immediately improved a hundredfold, but that’s not what people want to hear.

    I like to meet one person. My church wants me to shake five people’s hands on my way out.

    I am tired. I was a pastor’s oldest child growing up, and I learned how to fake it really, really well. I just don’t want to do that any more, and I have yet to find a way that I can be my own true, faithful, female, single, Aspie, introverted self.
    Bee´s last blog post ..To Infinity and Beyond

  205. Nana says

    I was listening to a Christian radio program the other day and the minister was talking about how harmful stress can be. He said if you’re stressed out sitting in meetings at Church, it would be a whole lot better if you would stay home and chop wood. Amen.

    • says

      Think how much wood I would get chopped! ;) I think I would often choose to stay home, so it’s not a viable long-term solution for me, but I’m suddenly reminded of a fellow introvert at my church. He loves our church and is deeply committed to it, but every now and then he’s not there on Sunday mornings. Once he admitted to me that as a 60-something transplanted New Englander who grew up with organ music and calm services, he sometimes just needs a break from our noisy, enthusiastic church full of young families and Christian pop blasting from the speakers. He sneaks up the road to the Presbyterian church, drinks in its quiet liturgy and blissfully calm sanctuary, and thanks God for it.

      I wonder if I might be a Presbyterian, deep down … ;)
      Bee´s last blog post ..New Themes: Blog Simple and Skylark

  206. Nana says

    I’m reminded of something that happened to me over twenty years ago when I was trying to be more active in Church. There was a Missions meeting (I don’t really know what it was called). Someone who had done missionary work in New Guinea was going to speak. Well, I took an aisle seat and was eagarly awaiting the talk. Next thing I know, a woman I had never met tapped me on the shoulder, handed me a paper with lots of information on it, and said “You’re going to be one of the speakers. Take a look at these notes and I’ll call you up to the front when its time.” She also gave papers to two or three other unsuspecting people sitting on the aisle. I have never felt such panic but I didn’t want to embarrass myself by running away so I read over the paper many times until the lady called me to the front for my presentation. Well, I did okay. But I’m telling you I never went to any more meetings. My Dad also experienced a panic moment when he was a young man in Church. He was asked to pray aloud and he just couldn’t do it. He never went back. When my Mom lived in a retirement home she loved going to bingo until one evening a Church circle who was assisting with the game passed a Bible around and asked each person to read a verse. She never went back to bingo. Folks, this is serious stuff. There are people in your Church like myself and my family. Should introverted people work on themselves and try to overcome these problems. Sure. Should extroverted people who don’t understand this problem try to encourage introverted people to overcome these problems. Not in public. I can tell there are gentle souls who participate on this blog, but I’m afraid there are some extroverts in Church who just don’t understand.

    • Rosemary says

      Hi, Nana. I liked your post. You use your own personal experience, and that of others, to deliver a clear and serious message that should be read and heeded.

      The only area in which I disagree is where you say, “Should introverted people work on themselves and try to overcome these problems. Sure.” I’m not sure what you mean by “these problems.” The only problems I see that you present in your post have to do with over-confident, insensitive, thoughtless, and pushy extroverts.

      I was blown away by that woman tapping you on the shoulder and telling — not asking, but telling! — you to be a speaker. Wow. The average person would be shocked at that. The sad thing is that the type of person most likely to be traumatized by this, an introvert, would be the least able to say, “No, thanks.”

      I was once asked, in a church I occasionally attended morning Mass, if I would do the readings. I’m not quite sure why, as my attendance was so sporadic and I’m sure there were dozens of daily-attending extroverts who would have loved the spotlight. (“Active participation” in the church is much touted, and interpreted by some as ensuring everyone gets a bit part on stage, like a play in kindergarten.) I was able to say, “No, thanks.” To me, the hard-won ability to do that counted as overcoming any problem my introversion caused for me.

      I’m so sad that your mother was driven away from bingo. To me, the person who instigated this is the one whose has a problem that needs correction; they should have said in the beginning, “If you don’t want to read aloud, just pass.” Better yet, skip the Bible reading. In a group of seniors, many of whom probably have eyesight challenges …?

      I think tactless insensitivity is a worse and more harmful problem than gentleness that is wounded by tactless insensitivity.

      I have light blue eyes. This means I rely on sunglasses outdoors and need red-out correction for photographs more often; but there is no reason for me to feel inferior to those with brown eyes, and I’m not going to force myself out in the sun. Also, as a middle-aged, arthritic woman under 5 feet tall, I owe no apologies for not joining the church’s basketball team; there will be plenty of tall, fit players. And if not … maybe we should rethink our need for the basketball game.

  207. Casey says

    Wow. These posts actually made me feel normal! ALl these years I would make excuses as to why I didn’t like being part of the family groups or whatnot…mostly using our low income compared to theirs as an excuse…but really it is just that I cannot put that mask on and feel good about myself and have never felt accepted for being introverted.
    I always felt badly for my kids because I didn’t bring them to meet other kids in the church and so on.

  208. Rosemary says

    This comments section, in itself, is beautiful. Thank you to all the brave, authentic women who have responded.

    As a young adult I belonged to a charismatic evangelical Lutheran church. One Sunday the pastor said, “Now, I want you to take the hand of the person next to you, look into their eyes, and say …” I exchanged glances with the person next to me, and it was clear she didn’t want to do this any more than I did. So we didn’t! I walked out and never went back.

    It wasn’t until introversion was recognized as a valid personality type that I understood why this was grating. He wasn’t pulling us into holiness, he was pulling us into silly displays of fake extroversion. God is neither silly nor fake. Furthermore, on an even deeper level, it felt to me like the pastor was playing with us, like we were pets, or dolls in his personal toybox that he would clothe and pose at will, not adult human beings made in the image of God. For various reasons that would be TMI here, I cannot willingly tolerate this type of thing done to me anymore.

    I went from my charismatic-evangelical church to a traditional Roman Catholic one and spent 10 years having my introversion honored. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is glorious, and totally Christ-centered. On my first silent retreat I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I joined one of the many secular orders that was dedicated to contemplative prayer, and my soul bloomed. For various reasons I can’t attend the Catholic church anymore, but (like many Western people lately) discovered the Eastern Orthodox church. Like Catholicism, Orthodoxy honors introversion, to the bone. (There is no “greet your neighbor” time in the liturgy! That waits until lunch downstairs.) It is literally, in all senses, beautiful. The choir sounds like angels and one can truly worship.

    I’m not a theologian. Rather than trying to figure out which one of the thousands of Christian sects is the right one, I have been focusing on the one where I don’t have to amputate parts of my personality and assume they’re gristle when God might have intended them as muscle.

    • says

      Amen. That is one of the things I love about the Orthodox Church – being quiet and restrained in speech are the most normal of behaviors. The message that constantly comes across is, “You are here to meet with God and to pray.” Think of it!
      GretchenJoanna´s last blog post ..What is is change.

    • Sharon says

      Very interesting hearing from someon who chose to go to the Roman Catholic church for introversion purposes! I think that’s wonderful. I have read some things by the “Catholic mystics” who think that one can only “find God” by being silent (think “Monk”) or by being in the woods or going to a silent retreat (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), etc. We mustn’t go overboard the opposite direction and say, “Well, you can’t ‘find God’ in a crazy charismatic church!” I know that is not what you were saying here….and I’m not accusing you of going overboard. I just think it’s nice that you found a place that suits you….where you can meet with God. I dislike the whole “meet and greet” times in church, too. I absolutely dislike when the pastor says, “Grab a few people around you, gather in a small group and pray together.” Riiiiigggghhhttttt. Like I’ll ever be able to commune with God in that sort of contrived setting. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

  209. Lee says

    It is extremely frustrating to be an introverted women in church. I feel like I’m almost a total introvert. I am not a talker and I rarely feel led to talk about my feelings. People don’t seem to understand that some women are not talkative and that it is okay. I go to church because I know the fellowship is good for me, but from a social standpoint I don’t feel like I need the social interaction. Small fellowship groups with women have never worked for me. I have zero desire to sit and talk about my feelings week after week. I feel bad because I would like closer friendships, but my lack of spilling my every thought and feeling seems to make other women not want to befriend me. I am single so having close friendships is important to me, but my lack of talking and opening up is a problem for others. I feel like alot of people make me feel like something is wrong with me and it is really tough finding friends who are patient and accepting.

  210. says

    Great site. A lot of helpful information here. I am sending it to
    several buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks in your effort!
    Angeles´s last blog post ..Angeles

  211. says

    Wow. I loved the blog post. I had never given too much thought to it but, yes, female introverts are seen differently (in a negative way) than male introverts.

    But the comments! So many of the comments speak to me! It is like someone is in my head, saying what I’m thinking, how I’m feeling. Just yesterday, I told my mom & daughter that I don’t think “church” is for me. Understand that this has nothing to do with my faith. I just can’t deal with the “social event” atmosphere of church. There were some things that happened at church yesterday that really made me wonder if going to church is the right thing for me. So I started searching the internet for information on introverts and church. I ordered “Introverts in the Church”, and it will arrive tomorrow. I can’t wait to read it! I feel that it will have so much information I need to know.

    I still have alot of things to figure out, but reading the information I’ve found on the internet has been SO helpful. At least I know that it’s not just me – that I’m not alone.

    As I was reading through these comments, I was wishing there was a “like” button because so many of them were true of me, too.

    Thank you for the post, and for the comments!

  212. Catherine says

    Howdy! I like the post. I’m introverted and have to re-charge after being in social groups, looking for places that allow “down time.” If I’m going to hang with someone, I take my own vehicle for an escape route. Thing is, my personality is also a nurturer/maternal, and I enjoy encouraging others. I can also easily engage in things like a Bible study discussion, etc. Afterwards, though, I won’t want to go to dinner, etc. I will want to go home and be alone for a bit. I work in a plant with mainly men and am seen as the “smilely girl.” Men, though, don’t need to be engaged non-stop. I can bounce through the office, say, “hello!” then go to my office, shut the door and not see them again for most of the day. If I want to engage for a minute, I bounce out again, toss a paper airplane at someone, then go back to my office, and that’s a perfect amount of social time for me. :)

    Church…well, EVERY church seems to have all these women’s events. I have absolutely no desire to attend a woman’s event. And because I am a female that can bounce through and smile and say, “hello,” it is perceived that I LOVE to be around women and chatty. I do not. It is very stressing to me. If there is ministry involved and/or someone needs me to talk to them, or if I’m asked to teach, etc., I’m fine. But socializing and chit-chat…no. I find it bothersome that I’m expected to want to attend a woman’s event. Why? They do nothing for me. So, I’ve been misunderstood again and again and again. I’ve been told too direct; I’m unsocialable; depressed, etc. And Manic as I’m up, but down. What? Because I’m nice doesn’t mean I’m depressed because I don’t want to play games and make baskets, etc., in a social group. And I’m not lonely. Even my children know mother needs some down time. When I am engaged, it is like all of me is engaged, and I’m worn out at the end. I enjoy it, but I also enjoy and need the down time. I’ve completely avoided church, etc., for seasons just because I get judged harshly. And I have feared offended others because I don’t know what in the world to talk about if it is chit chat. I’ll listen, but I seldom have anything to contribute, and then that becomes a problem. And I have no problem with extroverted people. Even enjoy watching them. They are funny, and a few of my friends are that way. Just accept that I’m not, and it doesn’t mean I don’t care if I like to be alone or don’t accept an invitation to go to dinner or want to talk on the phone when I just talked to you last week.
    :)

    Now in my 40s, I’ve learned that the Lord created me, and I’m me. What people think doesn’t phase me like it did when I was younger. It’s more difficult for young women and I hope church quits categorizing woman and thinking something is wrong when they are not interested in social events.

    • says

      Unbelievably accurate post! I feel exactly the same way and envy your job situation! Love working with men….they don’t want to be chatty (most of them) and want you to cut to the chase when communicating. Love it.

      At church….then there are the “Dinners for 8″. “Let’s all add another social engagement to our calendars so we can get to know each other!” That’s a nice activity for extroverts. “Small Groups” – ditto. “Sunday School Class” – ditto. I’m not against getting to know people and learning and studying the scripture…just please don’t add “coffee time” and “Small Group Xmas Party” and “Sunday School Class Potluck” to the mix. The people of the Church should be allowed to live life outside of the church building so we can get on with our commission out in the world!

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