“I can’t really do that, I’m an introvert.”
Dictionaries basically define introverts as “shy” or “reticent” people. Those who prefer some silence and solitude rather than the company of others. On the other side, extroverts seem to live in frustration any time they are forced into being alone. Extremes on both sides can be problematic. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair. Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.”
If you are on the side of the introvert, sometimes it can seem like an insurmountable task to meet new people, contribute to a group, or speak in a public setting. You come to church and you hear the Pastor quote the Matthew 28 Great Commission. You wonder how you can ever pluck up the courage to proclaim the gospel to a stranger or even to a friend. You are the last person to stand up and say, “Send me!” If this is you, take heart. God has a marvelous way of motivating the Christian introvert past public fear.
Many of us have gone to evangelism courses and learned techniques to open conversations, transition to the gospel, look for barriers and walls, and consider answers that may help someone consider the gospel. Sometimes we are taught about having compassion for the lost and being more concerned about our faithfulness than for the success that belongs to God. All of these points and practices can be (and are) very helpful to build confidence in evangelism. But that is not the focus here. There is something even more foundational than this and it starts in the solitude of your own heart, but it does not start by looking inward.
Isaiah was given a vision of the throne room of heaven (Isaiah 6). The Self-existent, Self-sufficient God was sitting in the glory of his heavenly temple surrounded by creatures of praise in a room shaking from the noise of praise. The creatures cover themselves in the presence of the Almighty King and the smoke rises in the honor of his glory. The words we read can only help us to imagine the magnitude of standing in the presence of God. The picture we get is that the holiness of God is more than we can ever bear. As we stand before him, we expect to be obliterated as our sinfulness engages with the perfection of his holiness.
This is exactly how it was for Isaiah. He solemnly admits, “Woe is me. I am a man of unclean lips.” The infinite grace of God is overwhelming. Isaiah is not incinerated in the presence of holiness, but God’s grace brings a purifying fire upon Isaiah as a great picture of the result of his atoning sacrifice. Isaiah experiences the immeasurable depth of love that comes from infinite mercy covering deserved, infinite wrath.
Who will God send to tell Judah of their need to repent in faith? Isaiah responds to his experience of God’s glory by saying, “Send me.”
If you struggle with motivation for being sent with the message of salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus, let me encourage you to look at what you have received in place of what you deserve. Let me encourage you to look at Who has given it to you
When we say, “I can’t” we may want to go back and contemplate the passages that make us look at the glory of God. We may want to remind ourselves of the magnitude of his grace that reconciles a rebellious creature of dirt with the omnipotent, holy God. We may even need to admit to ourselves that often we are not saying “I can’t,” but “I won’t.” Who are we saying that to? I am not saying that we all have to be gifted evangelists handing out tracts and street preaching every Saturday morning. While not all of us will have the particular gift of an evangelist, we are all still individually and collectively responsible for the great commission.
Do you seriously want a cure for introversion as a barrier to the great commission? Allow me to recommend some passages for you to meditate upon and pray through. Perhaps after doing so, you might consider getting on your knees in the presence of God’s glory and saying, “Send Me!”
Exodus 19:18, Isaiah 6:1-8, Ezekiel 1-2, Revelation 4-5, 15:8.
How glorious would it be for God to use an introvert like you to save an extrovert? That seems to be the way God’s glorious economy works