Tim Challies is one of those people who’s made a living out of having an opinion and running a blog to express that opinion on. I was never a fan of his material, generally finding his writings to be contradictory or at odds with the plain language of Scripture, and he seems to have done it again regarding the topic of introversion.
In one sense he declares that God made him an introvert, but then seems to immediately discount his introverted desires as being nothing more than an expression of his sin nature:
I have no right to crave introverted solitude. Rather, the gospel compels me to deny even that trait and all its desires in order to serve other people. I am introverted, but this does not give me a different calling in life than the gregarious Christian.
So Jesus also had no right to leave His disciples for time alone with the Father in introverted solitude? Challies basically suggests that Jesus was sinning by craving this time alone too. Good job.
Why is it so hard to simply say these desires alone are not wrong, or a sin, only when we take them to extremes? It’s not wrong to crave solitude, especially when we use that time to draw closer to God (where the LORD Himself leaves us an example). The gospel isn’t telling is to deny these traits, only to MODERATE them. Just as with food, we’re not sinning by eating, but we are when we overindulge in a spirit of gluttony.
All Challies had to say was, “It’s ok to crave solitude, just not 24 hours a day,” but he has such a tendency to overly intellectualize things that even simple matters of spirituality get twisted into convoluted and contradictory discourses.
I also don’t care for the evident double standard: where’s the admonition for extroverts to deny their nature accordingly and dial down their sometimes obnoxiously gregarious attitudes? Where many introverts crave intimate and meaningful relationships with a few, extroverts are focused on expanding their social circles as far as possible, which can often result in many relationships being a mile wide but only an inch deep. I’ve met extroverts like this in church, and I believe they do much harm to the body of Christ. Theirs is a numbers game, which unfortunately tends to dovetail well with the modern church’s mission to expand their membership as much as possible, focusing on the quantity rather than the quality of believers they attract.
I’m surprised that Tim Challies’s takeaway from reading Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” was not, “You know, the church has become too hyper-extroverted, we need to find a way to balance this out a bit,” but instead, “Introverts need to stop being so darned selfish.” He either glossed over or completely ignored the evidence Cain presented, and how much damage had been done by churches who have assimilated society’s modern push towards the hyper-extroverted by following the gospel according to Dale Carnegie. We are seeing a trend towards extremes here, but it’s not happening on the introverted side.
And this is a guy who regularly gets invited on speaking circuits at churches too. Awesome. I really hope people don’t take him at his word, and learn to compare and contrast his assertions to what the Bible actually says.