The Personality of an Introvert

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

  • 1 John 1:5-6

“The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the body encourages. …Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.”

  • C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

First, was C. S. Lewis an introvert?  Many articles put him in that category.  His writing is well suited for someone who spends hours at the typewriter instead of being out with friends.  Yet, he had his inkling meetings that he attended.  He was not a total recluse.

Without data regarding whether his inkling meeting tired him or not or whether he got more energized as he spent even more hours at the keyboard, we may never know for sure.  Yet, this call to obedience works better if Lewis is an introvert.  He would have to sacrifice his alone time to be in fellowship with others.  His comment of “selfish privacy”, as an introvert, would be the knowledge of his personal sacrifice in which he cast aside some of that privacy for “personality” in return.  If this were from an extrovert, the command to sacrifice selfish privacy would also carry a level of condemnation with it.

Second, I am an introvert who grew up most of my life on a farm many miles outside of town and far from the nearest neighbor who had someone my age.  If I did not have Scouting and church and school, my best friend would have been a dog.  Thinking back, my best friend was a dog, anyway.

That may have gone a long way toward my professional development and it was probably a contributing factor toward being the guy who continuously ran the department without a promotion until they found someone that they could trust and promote over me.  My lack of personality development at an early age might have given them a feeling of distrust, although the departments that I ran, ran smoothly.

On top of being an introvert, I had glossophobia, the fear of public speaking.  I was about thirty years old when I overcame that fear, and I attribute that to a miracle from God.  And before my 34th birthday, I was the head engineer in a training group, never officially running the department, but I was the straw boss for the courses that I developed – the only ones we had to work with.

So as an introvert with glossophobia, having an inferiority complex was just piling on, but never having a parent tell me, “Job well done” became my driving force, always thinking I had not done well enough, so “Do better, me!”  I don’t know if that qualifies as inferiority of self-pride.  I knew I was capable, and I knew that I could do better.  I just never got the warm fuzzy from those who refused to give it.

So, I will tell you the assessment of my downstairs neighbor in the Army.  He said, “The first time I met you, I thought you were a royal jerk, but over the past three years, you have been one of the best friends that we have had in Germany.”  My wife chimed in after they left, on their way back to the states a few months before we did the same.  She said, “You are hard to get to know, but you are a gem once people take the time to know you.”

If you know a few introverts, you probably can attest to the same thing.  For introverts, being a part of a crowd is so overwhelming.  Without noticing, an introvert will exhibit character traits that are not his/her own.  They think that they are fitting in with people who have those traits, but other see them as being fake, which they are.  The sad thing, they are not aware that they have changed their character traits, thinking, if they consciously notice, that they are simply amplifying the traits that they think pertain to “personality.”

So, give that introvert some space.  They need it, but draw them in and accept their quirks until you find the true person underneath.  They could still be a jerk, but they might be a gem.  And considering the Scripture above and the C. S. Lewis quote, they need that interaction.  With more experience of sacrificing that selfish privacy, they might just develop the ability of showing their true personality sooner in a relationship.

My wife and I have seen too many people, especially in the younger generations, disappear from social interactions, preferring the internet instead.  I am not saying to step away from the screen right now, but that fellowship with living, breathing people is important also.

And when you are an introvert who loves Jesus, how else can you share God’s Light?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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