Yes, you read that correctly, Jesus the Introvert. I believe that according to the examples given in the bible about how Jesus lived, he showed signs of being an introvert. Does this mean my fellow introverts are finally free from the social guilt of being an introvert? No. Extrovert types are still more acceptable in our North American culture and everything from homes to cubicle office space is designed to accommodate them.
This is part one of four in my “Jesus the Introvert” series where I will be highlighting some of Jesus’ introvert habits and writing about the significance of these traits as a spiritual discipline that if given a chance, extroverts can find as fulfilling as being in a room full of party people.
What is An Introvert?
There isn’t one “type” of introvert, or extrovert for that matter. There are varying degrees of introvert traits, but they all have some of the following in common:
– gathers energy from being alone, energy is depleted by being around too many people for too long,
-mental and physical energy is drained by over stimulation from being around groups of people in busy work and social environments
-processes thoughts and generates ideas internally
-tends to be more reserved and reflective
-enjoys solitary activities, but is not anti-social
-likes to quietly observe before making decisions or participating
Prayer and Fasting:
Jesus spent time alone in prayer connecting with God and himself where he utilized that time to rejuvenate his body and mind. In Matthew 4 we read of Jesus’ 40 days alone in the desert. Being alone for 40 days might feel like emotional and social death to an extrovert; but for Jesus, he did what he knew he had to do to prepare for his calling. If Jesus needed to take a social break sometime during this period of prayer and fasting, who knows what might have happened to himself spiritually. Instead of giving in, Jesus passed the test of temptation by resisting Satan with God’s truth straight from scripture. He did this alone. He didn’t need a crowd of people to take up for him. He had no one, it was a battle here on earth between himself and Satan, but don’t be fooled into thinking it wasn’t a spiritual battle. Jesus prepared for and won that battle with solitude, fasting, and prayer. He won that battle for himself and for the entire human race.
Being in community with others is an important part of our spiritual growth, but there is something different about being alone and welcoming God’s spirit to communicate with us.
Being alone gives us time to deepen our relationship and dependency on God. Times of solitude remind us to be quiet and focus on the promises of God and the lessons He wants to communicate to us. God has messages that are meant to be delivered to you in solitude. These are messages that can only come to us when we are alone in silence with a receptive heart and mind. It is also important to not be in a hurry to tell others what God has been laying on your heart. An extrovert will want to quickly run and tell somebody or everybody what has been revealed to him during quiet times with God, but an introvert knows to be still and ponder the message. Whatever is revealed to you during your time of prayer doesn’t always have to be shared with others. If God leads you to share it with others, then do so, if He doesn’t, then it is alright to keep it to yourself.
Let’s not forget about another introvert in Jesus’ family, his mother Mary.
In Luke 1:29 Mary is said to have been “…much perplexed by his (the angel’s) words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” After the post-natal visit and prophetic words from a group of shepherds in Luke 2:19 Mary, “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” It’s not a coincidence that the bible writers chose to make note of Mary’s habit of pondering what had to have been confusing, frightening, and odd news.
In a society that favours extroverts, let’s not forget to embrace and value introvert traits. We can develop an appreciation for introvert based spiritual disciplines by following the ways of Jesus, and we can do that by starting with prayer and fasting.
Do you spend more time praying in groups or praying by yourself?
Does your church or place of community gathering place more of an emphasis on introvert or extrovert expressions of faith and spiritual disciplines?
What are some of the introvert and extrovert expressions of faith practiced in your Christian community?
Do you lean more towards introvert or extrovert expressions of faith?
Here’s a challenge for you. This week, after your time of prayer see if you can spend at least 5 minutes in quiet solitude, saying nothing, and doing nothing except welcoming the presence of the Holy Spirit. It might sound strange if you are not used to doing this, but I can’t stress the important of sitting in silence by yourself, welcoming the Holy Spirit. We are used to rattling off prayers to God, but it is more difficult to then sit in silence afterwards. You can do this sitting on the floor, lying on the floor, sitting in a chair, standing, but whatever you choose you need to be able to be still in that position for 5 minutes.
May the presence of His Holy Spirit bring you peace and wisdom.