Saturday, December 26, 2009
Coming out of the Closet
I have a post-Christmas confession. I am an introvert and Jesus still loves me. It feels so liberating to say that I am an introvert and a Christian. Some people will have trouble with that, but they just need to leave behind their victorian era views of Christian personality types and understand that this is the way that God made me and I'm proud of my introvertedness. I mean, really, didn't Moses hate public speaking. In fact, I'm going to start a lobby group called I-Force that will campaign for the acceptance and equality of introverts wherever they are in the fields of religion and academia.
More specifically, my personality type is INTJ (see here for description). Basically, this means that I'm a cold hearted book worm with a super-sized intellect in lieu of a sense of empathy. So I don't really care how you feel, but I know when I'm supposed to pretend to care in order to help someone if they need it. I'm task orientated with a capital "T" and if I'm on a mission just show where to bury the bodies of the people who get in my way. I like people, they are very useful entities, they need to be looked after, but after a while I need to be away from them. I do not understand why extroverts have some pathological and insatiable need to be around people all the flipping time. Extroversion is in fact a medical condition that I call "Barbara Streisand Syndrome" - People who need people are the weirdest people of all. Other INTJers around the blogosphere include Sean Michael Lucas, Michael Kruse, and M. Jay Bennett. For me, the real world is inside my head, and everything else is just the "Matrix".
When I tell people that I'm an introvert they scarcely believe me. Yes, I can project myself, yes I can speak in public and entertain folks. But don't confuse ego and the capacity for self-projection with personality. Ego is one of my major character flaws (I regularly cite 2 Cor 4.5 and Rom. 12.3 to try keep it in check) as I like to advertise to persons what I can do and show its value - in fact, my self-esteem is very much embedded in my capacity for intellectual success. I am also a natural entertainer so I can deliver sermons and lectures with little ease and I've learned fairly well how to read and work an audience. Truth be told, I'm actually a comedian and theology is just my medium. I enjoy being the life of the party - but only for a while - very quickly I feel the need to flee crowds before people drain me with their constant talking about stuff that I really don't care about. The hardest time for me after church is right after the service. If I'm preaching then I have to force myself to stand at the door and meet and greet everyone as they leave. If I'm not preaching then I have to make chit chat with folks and I have about 20 minutes of capacity for this, after that, I start looking for escape routes. Don't get me wrong, I like people, I love certain people, it's just that being around them can be so draining at time.
I'm saying all this because in 2010 one of the first books that I intend to read is Adam McHugh, Introverts in the Church: Finding our Place in an Extroverted Culture.