Note from the editor: Share your experiences and questions related to disciple-making in the comments portion below or on Facebook. As you share your stories with us and others, we’ll address your most common questions.
“I’m discipling four guys and it has been an awesome experience. One of the four I’m using the Multiply book as a sort of curriculum for the process and its nice to see how he is growing in the Lord through this ministry. Some hurdles for me are the fact that I am more introverted than extroverted so I enjoy being alone so that makes it hard to do life with people.” – E.B.M.
“I’m an introvert as well but need God’s grace to help spread his message to all people groups of the world.” – Ray L.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under-qualified when we hear preachers telling us to make disciples of all nations. “Be bold to speak the name of Jesus,” they say. “Tell your neighbors and co-workers about God’s grace. This good news needs to be shared!”
When you’re tempted to shut down or disregard what preachers and teachers are telling you because you feel this way, remember – you are not David Platt, and you are not Francis Chan. You are not even your extroverted friend who is always talking to strangers. And that’s a good thing. By God’s design, you are an introvert.
So what does the Great Commission look like for all the introverts in the room?
First, know that just because introverts may have the natural tendency to internalize their thoughts, isolate themselves a little bit, or initiate few conversations, they are not excused from the mission at hand. All Christians are to be making disciples, so introverts must be prepared to face some of the challenges that may come along with that, especially given their personality.
But that doesn’t mean they need a new personality, or even that their personality is inferior to extroverted personalities for the purpose of making disciples.
And that’s where this second word of encouragement comes in. Introverts should do what they do. No, not cowering in the corner. But they should make disciples according to their gifts and abilities.
For instance, many people who talk little are excellent listeners. In fact, James 1:19 may suggest (rather strongly) that we are not only to cherish the art of speaking less to listen more, but actively seek it. So if words isn’t your thing, don’t feel pressured to talk a lot. While at some point this is required, sharing the gospel needn’t be eloquent or long. Prayerfully and intentionally be on the look out for where God is already moving, and then join in with Him. God is faithful, and the beauty of coupling little talking with much listening is that when you do speak up, you’ll probably know just what He wants you to say, exactly when and how He wants you to say it.
And if solitude is something you like a lot of, take advantage of that alone time to study God’s Word and pray for others, all the while asking God for the courage, guidance, and desire to share life with people as you ought. This will make your interactions with people more meaningful.
Third, while introverts may have different obstacles than extroverts, every personality type has hang-ups when it comes to disciple making… even that guy wearing the “Free Hugs” shirt at summer camp. Though he may be totally comfortable with a lot of attention and interaction with strangers, he has the potential for major aversions to sharing the gospel with people. Whether it is fear of rejection or awkwardness, temptation to pride, feelings of inadequacy, or something else, his extroversion is not always the answer. In some cases, for difficulties such as poor listening, his natural tendency toward chitter chatter can even be tied to the problem.
So, introvert, don’t despair! The grace of God is so strong that even the challenges you face in sharing about it can be overcome. More than that, the difficulties you have can actually serve your cause. Remember 2 Corinthians 12:9-10? In your weakness He is strong! So if you are weak in areas such as conversation-starting, social interaction, or close relational living, why not let your weakness display God’s strength? You’re trying to point to Him anyway.