Introversion and extroversion are personality traits, measured on a scale, that refer to how people tend to relate to the world. The more introverted, the more a person tends to focus on his inner world. The more extroverted, the more a person tends to focus on the outer world. All people do some of both, but generally prefer one over the other. Those who tend more toward introversion are popularly called introverts. Some think of introverts as loners who find strength in solitude; others think of introverts as shy people (but not all, or even most, who tend more toward introversion are shy). No, it is not wrong for a Christian to be an introvert (or an extrovert). However, there are some tendencies that an introvert should watch out for.
In general, introverts avoid crowds, dislike small talk, enjoy long periods of solitude, and prefer deep conversations to party chatter. They are often introspective and realistic about their own flaws. They gravitate toward one or two solid friendships rather than surround themselves with acquaintances. They tend to enjoy creative aspects of self-expression such as art, writing, or music. Many of the world’s greatest artists, authors, and musicians were introverts.
Whereas extroverts are energized by being around others, introverts are energized by periods of solitude and reflection. As long as the quietness does not become depression or alienation, it can be spiritually beneficial. Prayer, meditation, and waiting upon God often require long periods of stillness to be effective. Introverts are often better at biblical meditation than extroverts because it complements their natural tendencies. The danger for an introvert is in becoming overly introspective. Introverts may tend to live inside their heads rather than serving others the way Jesus commanded (John 13:34; 1 Peter 4:10).
Introversion is not synonymous with unhealthy self-focus. Both introverts and extroverts can struggle with self-absorption, and it is always wrong. A naturally boisterous, friendly person can be sinfully self-focused by striving to draw attention to himself (Romans 12:3).
God created us with varying strengths, weaknesses, and personality types. He can use anyone who submits to Him, and He is often most glorified through our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). When introverts have totally submitted their lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ, they can be mighty prayer warriors, mentors, and teachers. Spirit-filled introverts use their God-given nature for the glory of God and relish long, fruitful times of worship, soul-searching, and Bible study. When they allow the Holy Spirit to move them beyond their comfort zones, they can then share with others the rich insights God has given them.
There are a few things that can hinder an introvert’s service to God. When their natural quietness is motivated by insecurity or fear, introverts often withdraw from people. They may refuse to engage with others as instructed in Scripture (1 Peter 4:10). This kind of solitude limits them spiritually. Introspection can also lead to a critical spirit. Too much focus on self can result in judging others or even ourselves (Matthew 7:1–2). Introverts may also use their natural reticence as an excuse to avoid taking on responsibilities at church or actively witnessing for Christ. Jesus made no such distinctions in His instructions to us about serving our world and loving others (Acts 1:8; Matthew 10:18–19). The Great Commission is for introverts, too.
Philippians 2:3 says we are to “consider others as better than ourselves.” Some introverts may see this verse as confirmation that they are to see themselves as inferior. A healthy self-image is one in which we see ourselves exactly as God does: no better and no worse. We are to see ourselves as “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Whether introverted or extroverted, Christians need to remember that their temperaments are gifts from God to be used for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).