The other day, I asked for your comments at the end of the post “Naked Before God: In Community (2)”, and I would like to thank those of you who commented. The reason I asked was that I believe that this topic has almost run its course, at least as much so as I am going to take it for now, and I wanted to see if someone would mention something I should have covered.
Many thanks to Steve B. who gave me the comment with the subject I hadn’t thought to address: Introverts.
The really ironic thing about it is that like Steve B., I am INTP-A on the Briggs test. That’s right gang, I am one of those introverted characters who hates parties, social events and… community in general; I would much prefer to be alone and unnoticed. The funny thing is, quite a few people that I know, have no idea that I am an introvert, particularly if they only know me from seeing me in front of a room full of people, for being in front of a room (public speaking in other words) has never been even the slightest problem for me; maybe that’s because of the “A” part which stands for assertive.
At any rate, in my mind, being introverted is sort of a given, and it hadn’t even occurred to me to mention it.
Most of the time, spiritual gifts and personality traits are more or less in harmony, so that extroverts are more likely to have leading gifts like leadership, exhortation or teaching. They might also have gifts such as hospitality, while introverts more commonly have serving gifts like helps or service or mercy. Yet for some of us, God has seen fit to give leading gifts to introverts like me. As a result, we are called to serve in the place where our service is uncomfortable; that is my story. I can truly tell you that God is strong where I am weak, and thus, He is glorified by my weakness in certain areas. While this is encouraging, it is still uncomfortable.
I really don’t know why God gave me a personality that doesn’t want to be noticed, and called me to leadership where you must be noticed… but that is the reality of my situation. Yet I can tell you that even though I dread those situations, when the time comes, He more than compensates for what I lack and people seldom suspect there’s a problem. The long and short of it is this: When God calls you to serve, go where He leads you secure in the knowledge that He will sustain you. Where God has given you spiritual gifts, use them, even if it’s scary, for God will be glorified in your discomfort.
The whole theory of naked before God in community however, is not really dependent upon our personality types, for it is instead dependent upon the quality of our relationships with Him. Please note that I haven’t called this “naked before the community”, I’ve called “naked before God in community”. In community with other believers, God is present in the midst of His people, and our nakedness is before God. It follows that our spiritual nakedness will spill over into our relationship with the humans who are also present. The key is for us to perceive His presence in the midst of the people, and as believers in the promises of Scripture, this perception is not as difficult as one might assume at first, once we have a little practice looking for Him.
Does this sound abstract or theoretical to you? Please believe me when I tell you that it isn’t; it is entirely practical. If you’ve never read it, or even if you have, please read a very short little book called The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence; you can find it online for free. It is a classic of spiritual discipline that is on required reading lists in Seminaries of every denomination, and it is so simple and easy to understand that a child can master it in an hour or two. Brother Lawrence will tell you how to be naked before God in community.
I know that for the introvert, this whole subject can seem a little bit daunting, but in truth, we introverts have a decided advantage over the extroverts, for we do not crave attention, and are unlikely to perform in front of others, thus we must rely upon God in social settings… or just hide in the darkest corner of the room until we can escape. We also have more time available to be alone with God, and this gives us an enhanced opportunity for a deeper personal relationship with Him. If we recognize that our apparent disadvantage is actually an advantage, with a little effort and a degree of faith, we can let God do amazing “naked” things in and through us.
Once again, please don’t hesitate to tell me what you think!