Few books really change me deeply. Directly. Powerfully. Never to look back. I didn't expect it, but this one had me spinning for days and still eager to consider the implications more and more. I'll be honest. I was in a rut. I still am trying to turn my way out. I need refreshment. I need recharging. I need renewal. And God has used Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh to show me how I put myself in the rut and how to get out. And that was just after the first 2 chapters.
What is realized is that I've been working hard for years at being more extroverted. After all, the more extroverted I could be the better I could function in ministry. I'd be a better evangelist and preacher and counselor and networker and so on. Imagine the hunger to be in constant interaction with the people around you in pastoral ministry. I romanticized that idea, but struggled to follow through. I have been streaky at best. And the more I felt guilty about it, the more drained I became and harder I worked to be something that didn't *click*. McHugh explained a picture of me in the book that opened my eyes.
McHugh helped explain my introversion in super-helpful recognizable attributes (p 42). I recharge best alone or with close friends or family. I need rest after outside activities and interaction with people. I'm territorial with private & family space and treat my home like a sanctuary. Small talk drives me batty. My brain is bubbling with activity no matter what else is going on around me. And so on. I think while reading this chapter I giggled with delight at the things I learned about myself that I knew but didn't know, if you know what I mean. Ok, I didn't "giggle." I'm a dude, after all. But I grinned big and in a giggle-y way.
Introverts in the Church gave me glasses to see myself more clearly as well as the introverts around me. And, by the way, it ends up being very helpful to understand extroverts since comparisons are so often made. Then McHugh weaves them together to show how we individually a mixture of the two since none of us are pure introvert or extrovert, and the church is also a mixture of the two having people of all variations. In many ways this book is really about the varied gifts in the body of Christ and how we need them all.
I think I've been duped into believing that the best gift I could give my church is to become more like someone else. I knew better than to want to be John Piper. But I overlooked the problem of not wanting to be an introvert. Books and blogs and Twitter and the rest are perfect places to develop extroversion envy. Through a number of things over the past year, culminating with this book, God has put me in my place. And for the first time in a while being an introvert the place I want to be. Now I'm working to relearn the rhythms that make sense for me to be me when I pray, work, rest, serve and enjoy the life and calling God gave me. For that work McHugh gives helpful chapters on introverted spirituality, community & relationship. leadership, evangelism and more. These chapters will be helpful friends to revisit along that pathway.
I think what I learned most as I reflected on Introverts in the Church, and what is changing most about me because of it, is that my best work for the church as a pastor is deep work. It's reading deep. Praying. Contemplating. Being silent. Enjoying the refreshing presence of God.
Introverts in the Church is one of the most important books I've read in years. It's not perfect. I may have written things a bit differently here and there. I might have used different examples and stories in places. And my journey is different than yours, so you may not have the same experience as me. But I believe it will help free people in similar situations as me to be who God made them to be. For that reason it's highly recommended for introverts and church leaders. I can't help but to think this will also be helpful for parents, coaches, teachers and to people working with people in numerous avenues of life.