Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

8.26.2016

Was Jesus an Introvert or an Extrovert?



I remember the first time a friend enlightened me as to the definition of an introvert: "It means you get your energy and recharge from being by yourself."

I had never heard the concept explained so simply before, and the definition definitely described me. I was fascinated, and I soon noticed this topic cropping up everywhere. In the beginning I chalked it up to the phenomenon that occurs when you learn something new and inevitably the new word stalks you from radio shows and bumper stickers and sky-writing. But as a few years have passed since that first discovery, one would think the phenomenon would pass too, but instead I have noticed two ever-increasing trends:
{scientific statistics alert}

1. A whole lot of people whom I would have dubbed extroverts actually called themselves introverts. And...
2. A whole lot of people in general like to talk about this topic at length. In fact, if you have a self-described introvert who won't make conversation about anything else, simply bring up the topic of introversion, and you will be hard pressed to change the subject. 

Understanding personality types has helped me understand others' perspectives and shape my responses in some very effective ways, but I began to wonder: We're talking about it a lot, but does the Bible have anything to say about introverts and extroverts? Is one more godly than the other? Is all this focus on personality really good or is there a limit to the benefits of navel-gazing?

Fast-forward to another conversation with a different friend, and as I was beginning to ask these questions of myself, I asked her if she were an introvert or an extrovert. She declined to classify herself as either, saying simply that she was trying to avoid a self-focus, and couldn't help but see the wisdom in her response. 
So is there any redeeming value in learning about your personality tendencies? I turned to God's Word, and here is what I discovered:

1. We are uniquely different, but united in glorifying God.
Personality groupings are helpful, but ultimately fall short.

Whether you're an INFP or an AARP, it feels good to belong and fit in with a group of people who "get" you. I know the feeling! It's not wrong to seek commonalities with those around you, but you have to realize that any grouping is ultimately simplistic. Even experts on the subject will readily agree to the fact that these types are generalizations. 

The truth is that God has created us all unique {Psalm 139:16, 1 Peter 4:10-11}, with subtle differences in our personalities and perspectives, our strengths and weaknesses. These differences cannot be wholly grasped by a personality test, helpful though it may be.

And although we are all different, whenever the Bible speaks of gifts or strengths, it speaks of using them for the unified purpose of glorifying God. So if I box myself into the type of an introvert and tell myself that because of my introversion it is fine to not push my comfort zone, I am missing the whole point and indulging in the self-focus my friend mentioned. Selfishness was a nagging problem I had with this whole topic as it is my weakness and can be the weakness of the personality-obsessed as well. "Discover your personality, not so you can better serve God, but so you can keep yourself happy and satisfied."

2 Timothy 3:2 prophesies that "men will be lovers of themselves" in the last days. Feeding my desires for introverted comfort can definitely lead to becoming a lover of self just as feeding extroverted desires could lead to being a man-pleaser. Those are the extremes, I grant you. But here's the bottom line: we were created to glorify God {Isaiah 43:7}, and any understanding of personality type is only helpful as far as it aids in that purpose. Which brings me to the next thing I've learned...

2. We are new creations when we are saved, and all things have become new.
Personality tendencies can be insightful, but should not be used as an excuse.

Are personalities too sacred to be sanctified? Not according to 2 Corinthians 5:17: " Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

K.B. Napier writes,"Man cannot alter his own personality, it is argued, because his personality and 'drives' are inborn and handed-down by evolution. Any defects, nasty as some of them are, must just be accepted as they appear in each individual. This idea runs through much of our social sciences and it is unfortunately expressed by the majority of Christians. And it is wrong. People become new creatures when they are saved....The change of personality by the Holy Spirit is not an option for special types of Christian.  It is required of us all, by God."

Thankfully, God's principles and commands in Scripture provide balance to our lives and personalities. Knowing that I want to be alone when I'm tired or not cram every day full of activity is a helpful insight to not burning myself out. But I have to understand that sometimes these desires turn selfish. God doesn't call me to take the road of ease or least stress, but He does call me to obey Him even when it is the last thing I want to do. 

So if a friend or family member needs help, and I find my blood pressure rising because I was just about to have some "me" time, I have two options: I can use my "introvert" status as an excuse, or I can realize that I am now at the end of myself and my strength, and turn to the power of the Holy Spirit like I should have been doing all along. 

With the right perspective, insight into my natural weaknesses and strengths can actually help me mature in Christ {Mt. 26:41, 1 Cor. 1:27}, but it does not give me a free pass to ignore certain commands of God because they go against my personality. And whether I am an introvert or an extrovert, above all as a Christian I am wholly a new creation in Christ! 

3. Understanding how Jesus related to God and others can help us think Biblically about our personalities.
Neither being introverted nor extroverted is automatically more godly, but both can have this weakness in common: looking to man for fulfillment.

So was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert?
Asking this question revealed a much deeper answer than I was expecting! Matthew 14:23 provides a great example of what was a habitual occurrence in Jesus' life: " And when {Jesus} had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there."

Jesus spent time with the multitudes, and just that word "multitudes" challenges the introverted me.
But there came a time in His day when He sent them away, a difficulty for the extroverts out there.
However, it was what He did in that alone time that is key: He didn't look within, and He didn't look to others; He looked to His Father in Heaven.

So there you have it.
Introverts, we like to look in.
Extroverts, they tend to look out.
Believers need to look up.

“Recharging Danbo Power,” © 2013 Takashi Hososhima, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

8.02.2016

I Want All the Books!

I vividly remember the day that a book first captivated me. Mama sat me down, handed me Little House in the Big Woods, and told me to read for an hour. I was less than thrilled, not sure what the "big woods" were all about, but certain that the "big words" would be dry and dull. Several hours later I had to be pried from the pages, and I was hooked for life. 

So in the spirit of sharing this passion with you, today I am answering a book-lover's tag! (I compiled the questions from several different sources.)
1. Name a book you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read yet.
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis.  Somehow, someway, I have read every other Narnia book except for this one...

2. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?
The receipt for the book itself.

3. Look at your bookshelf. What’s the first book you see with a yellow spine?
My beautiful Anna-Bond-illustrated edition of Heidi.
 
4. If you could have one new book from a deceased author, who would it be?
This is difficult, but I will choose Jane Austen. I still haven't read all of her books, as I am legitimately concerned about my mental state when I finish the final page of her final book and realize I have to go the rest of my life without a new Jane Austen. So I resort to rationing myself to an Austen a year and admitting that I am a weird book nerd.

5. Name an author who deserves more readership.
G.K. Chesterton, without a doubt. Have you read his books? If not, get thee to a bookstore or library and pick up The Man Who Was Thursday!

6.  Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I want to be a bookmark person, I really do. But most of the time I resort to a random piece of paper (or receipt, as the case may be!).

7. Can you stop anywhere in a book or do you have to finish the chapter?
Anywhere is fine unless the chapters are quite short.

8.  One book at a time or several?
Always several!  Currently reading: The Innocence of Father Brown and The Book That Made Your World.

9.  Do you read ahead or skip pages?
Gasp. Is skipping allowed?

10.  Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
Keep it like new as long as possible!

11. What books do you regret reading?
The Light that Failed by Rudyard Kipling. It was one of those books that you keep trudging through, sure that it cannot get any worse, and that after the main character loses his childhood sweetheart, goes blind, and finds his last masterpiece destroyed by a bitter servant there must be some redeeming ending. But then he died in his best friend's arms, and I was angry at Rudyard Kipling for a year.

12. On average, how many books do you read per year?
I don't really know. Up to 30, I would guess.

13. What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?
The Scarlet Pimpernel--It is the best adventure/mystery tale ever!

14. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?
I read the old book Ester Ried when I was 11, and it played a huge part in my maturing process from a baby Christian to a dedicated Christ-follower.  It made me realize that I could be sleep-walking through life without even realizing it, stagnant and unfruitful while thinking that I was fine. This book woke me up to the reality of living for Christ daily.

15. What is the most recent book you’ve read?
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I only decided to trust Kipling again because I wanted to read the original story before I watched the new movie, and I actually very much enjoyed it!

16. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?
“In all they said, in their actions, in their looks, in their persons, could be detected a soft spot, the place of decay, the determination to lounge safely through existence.” -Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
The book itself was very forgettable, but this quote has stuck with me as a challenge, for I never want this to be true of me.

17. How many books do you own?
Hold on...3 hours later...a total of only 218 books. "Hi, I'm Lauren, and I'm addicted to real books. Kindle just won't cut it."

18. Of the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?
The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi. Although I am not quite done reading this tome, it is one of those books that I find myself constantly bringing up in conversation or referencing in my own mind as I observe culture around me. It is a truly amazing read by an incredible man from India who challenges the West from the perspective of someone from the East, saying, "The Bible created the modern world of science and learning because it gave us the Creator's vision of what reality is all about. That is what made the modern West a reading and thinking civilization. Postmodern people see little point in reading books that do not contribute directly to their career or pleasure. This is a logical outcome of atheism, which has now realized that the human mind cannot possibly know what is true and right. This book is being published with a prayer that it will help revive a global interest in the Bible and in all the great books."

So let's start a revival of global interest in all the great books together! If you are a fellow book-lover, I would greatly enjoy hearing your answers to these questions! So comment below with your thoughts or do the tag on your blog and comment with the link so I can get some new book ideas.

Now, if you don't mind, I think I have some books to read!

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