I like chocolate; Chris likes vanilla.
I like to eat healthy; Chris could eat fast food every day.
I don't know what I'm doing this afternoon;
Chris has 5 and 10-year plans.
I like to try new things; Chris is a creature of habit.
I could literally keep going for pages and pages. It's outrageous how different we are on almost everything. I think it's our biggest strength as a team, because we balance each other out, but it also causes most of our struggles. Figuring out how to live with someone so opposite of you isn't always easy.
Many of our differences can be summed up in this sentence:
I am an extrovert; Chris is an introvert.
We are seriously fascinated and baffled by each other's personalities, because they're so unlike our own. I'm always on the lookout for insights into introversion, trying to understand it better and trying to learn how to love my husband well. So, when Chris recently read a book entitled Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture, I was eager to get my hands on it as soon as he finished.
I 100% think you should read this book if you are either an introvert or married to an introvert . . . and I absolutely think that everyone in Christian ministry should read it—introvert or not. Chris found incredible freedom through this book, and I gained immense insight into his world.
I had never realized how extroverted in nature the American Evangelical church is. We value doers over thinkers, talking over listening, community over solitude, and outward expressions of emotion over internal processing. Look at a typical worship service: we're all about the meet and greet time (which makes an introvert's skin crawl), but when is the last time you went to a service that held silence for a significant amount of time? The extrovert in me is uncomfortable just thinking about that!
One of the areas in which this bias is most obvious is leadership.
Think about it: when you think of the ideal pastor (or youth minister or whatever), what qualities do you think of? It's probably someone who has charisma, is gregarious, has a magnetic personality, and can work a room. But what about someone who is consistent, disciplined, fiercely loyal in relationships, loves to study, and doesn't mind if his work goes unnoticed? Whether in leadership or in life, there are so many introvert qualities that we extroverts would do well to learn from, and at the very least, appreciate.
A few examples:
Obviously, the world needs both extroverts and introverts, and the church most certainly needs both. A healthy church would be one that recognizes, values, and utilizes the gifts and strengths of both, a church that evaluates its leaders based on faithfulness to calling rather than personality type. As McHugh writes, "When introverts and extroverts are mutually celebrated, not only in word but also in practice, both the depth of the church's ministry and the breadth of her witness are enhanced."
If you're interested in learning more about this introvert/extrovert conversation (in our culture in general, not specifically in the context of the church), then please check out this TED talk: Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts. It's fantastic and absolutely worth 19 minutes of your time. Enjoy.