Christian Service for the Introvert

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(See also “Fellowship for the Christian Introvert.”)

The typical image of “Christian service” is of someone preaching to a crowd, teaching Sunday school, or serving meals in a food pantry. In other words, someone sharing the love of Christ with a good-sized group of people and radiating high energy throughout.

Which makes it tough on those of us who want to be faithful Christian servants, but freeze up talking to groups and find it draining to socialize for long.

The Bible says God created us all for good works He planned in advance (Ephesians 2:10), so every believer is made for Christian service. What we sometimes forget is that God creates each of us uniquely and doesn’t expect the exact same form of service from every  individual. To paraphrase Paul’s analogy on the human body and the body of Christ: if the whole congregation was made up of Sunday school teachers, who would clean the church restrooms? And if the whole congregation was made up of food-pantry workers, who would keep the church website up to date?

If you’re a Christian introvert who can’t see yourself dealing with groups of strangers and semi-strangers on any regular basis, be assured God isn’t disappointed in you. In fact, He created you with just the temperament you have so you could serve the Body and the world in your own ideal ways.

Here are some areas of Christian service that typically suit introverts. Consider which ones appeal to your natural passions: then ask God, your church staff, and discerning Christian friends to recommend appropriate needs you can fill.

Writing

  • Could your church’s website use a weekly blog? Or help with a blog/newsletter/website/emailing that’s being irregularly produced and poorly written? Or even a full-length book for fundraising sales?
  • Are there shut-ins, or people on the church’s prayer list, who’d appreciate regular (perhaps handwritten) notes of encouragement?
  • Can you send spontaneous notes to your pastor/church staff? Often it’s the people with the full-time work of serving fellow believers, who get taken for granted and their struggles ignored.
  • Does your church or denomination have a “pen pal” program where you can regularly write to missionaries, or other Christian workers, or ordinary Christians living in largely unchurched regions?

Art

Could you contribute:

  • paintings or a mural to decorate your church’s welcome center;
  • graphic design or calligraphy to church publications;
  • craft projects to sell at a church fair or fundraiser?

Helps

Many introverts find special joy in the sort of background service unfairly labeled “dirty work”:

  • Cleaning up after the crowds have left
  • Delivering meals to shut-ins, or just dropping in to visit (often, the introvert who “hates crowds” can talk for hours with a couple of friends–or with one lonely individual)
  • Landscaping or gardening
  • Construction or repair work

Prayer

Of course every believer should pray for the Church and for others’ needs; but some Christians are specially gifted for the sort of lengthy private prayers that move mountains. Famous pioneer missionary William Carey credited much of his success to the fervent prayer support of his home-bound sister in England.

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And after you’ve found your place of service, consider praying that God will send you a few fellow introverts to team with. If they were feeling discouraged about not being suited for large-group-style Christian service, you can render additional service by encouraging them through example!

 

 

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Finding Your Ministry

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Part of any Christian’s life purpose is actively serving God and neighbor through your work. In one sense, the whole Christian life is ministry; but here, I’m going to focus on volunteer and paid jobs that are directly connected to influencing the world toward Christ.

Paid Church and Parachurch Work

Obviously, the ordained pastor is in “ministry.” So is the president of a Christian college, the publisher of a Christian magazine, and the president/director/owner of any Christian organization. And so are their paid staff.

Paid Christian work is a noble calling, but there are at least two potential dangers:

  • People may choose it to “please God” when in fact He has other, “secular” work for them. Though this issue was more common before the Protestant Reformation introduced a “priesthood of all believers” concept, it still surfaces with individual believers.
  • Those not specifically called to Christian ministry may consider themselves exempt from responsibility to witness in day-to-day life, when in fact every believer should “always be prepared … to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). (More on “everyday evangelism” in a moment.)

Volunteer Church or Parachurch Work

Again, be sure this is what God wants you to do before diving in. Too often, Christian leaders take a “We need help here so much; please don’t let us down” emphasis that pushes individuals into work they aren’t suited for or don’t have time to commit to. Even retired people and stay-at-home moms have limits on how many volunteer hours they can manage alongside other legitimate responsibilities.

Yes, you should consider your church’s needs and how God wants you to contribute to them. Yes, He may want you to fill this or that volunteer slot even if it doesn’t click at first glance. No, “somebody should do it” is not sufficient proof God wants you to do it. Trust that He is capable of finding and convincing the right person to fill that need without rushing the first semi-willing person into it.

Independent Christian Projects

This blog you are reading is an “independent Christian project”–a Christ-focused ministry individually designed in accordance with an individual calling. If you have a passion for cooking, sculpting, or carpentry, why not invest some of it in projects with Christian themes, or in service offered to others “because I love you as Christ loved me“?

“Friendship Evangelism”

Also known as “everyday” or “lifestyle evangelism,” this means witnessing to friends and acquaintances in the natural course of life–“giving the reason for the hope that you have” as noted above. You don’t have to take a “convert ’em on the spot” attitude–in many cases, this does more harm than good–but you shouldn’t treat your Christian commitment as a secret, either. Act as you naturally do in overtly Christian settings–whether that means wearing a cross or referring to Scripture during everyday conversation–and be ready to share a bit of your personal testimony when someone asks.

If met by tough questions or anti-Christian stereotypes, remember what Peter says about giving your reasons “with gentleness and respect.” If you aren’t gifted in tactful persuasion and discernment, the following responses can defuse hard feelings:

  • For tough theological questions you can’t answer on the spot: “I’m not sure: let’s look that up together.”
  • For negative comments about Christians in general: “Have I given you the impression that’s how am? Is there anything I can do to make amends?”
  • For “what kind of God would let this happen to me?” questions: “I don’t have a real answer, but could I pray with you/do anything to help?”

Independent Prayer 

Whatever your gifts or situation, every Christian can and should spend some time every day praying for others. Don’t worry about being a great “prayer warrior”: God can work wonders even with 15-second requests. And as in every ministry, you’ll improve with practice and a sincere desire to seek His will!

IT’S HERE! Pre-order your copy of 100 Ways to Live as an Optimist in a Pessimistic World and get a plethora of ideas on improving your outlook–including ideas for serving others effectively while staying joyful yourself.

  • A blog for naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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    I am the go-to writer for people with tough stress issues and special emotional needs—and for those who love them, organizations that serve them, and anyone who just wants to better understand the world of mental/emotional struggles. Or who just wants to pick up some good stress-management tips! Visit my main website at www.PositiveContentFactory.com.

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    Bible quotes used in this blog are from the New Living Translation or the New International Version (1984). See http://www.biblegateway.com/ for copyright details.
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