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Help! I’m an Introvert with Extroverted Spiritual Gifts

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Hi, my name is Rayni and I’m an introvert.

I used to attend Introverts Anonymous, but usually no one would show up and if they did they didn’t want to talk. (Okay, that was joke). But being introverted is a serious business that many people don’t understand. In college I lived in a dorm on the top floor. Many mornings I chose to walk down the seven flights of stairs just so I didn’t have to say hello to anyone in the elevator. Today, if I see you in the grocery store and you haven’t seen me first, I will most likely immediately turn and walk in the opposite direction with great gusto so I don’t have to talk to you; even though I may like you.

What I’ve just shared probably sounds a bit odd or even mentally ill to all of those bustling extroverts out there. But I know the introverts are tracking with me. So, what is an introvert to do when God has clearly given you spiritual gifts that require interacting with people? You know, those “pesky” gifts like teaching, counseling and leadership that require you to be in front of or with people rather than behind the scenes?

Take Short Trips Out of Your Comfort Zone
After college I worked for two years at a church as a Campus Pastor. Looking back it is my favorite job I’ve had but at the time it was a bit overwhelming as an introvert. I regularly interacted with college students, led services and preached sermons when the pastor was away; and mentored, counseled, and prayed with students. It was a great growth experience but I found that I was continually living outside of my comfort zone with all of this “other people required” interaction.

I’ve learned that it’s a good thing to sometimes step outside your comfort zone, especially when God is leading you to.That’s where you grow. But if you constantly live outside your comfort zone its easy to go into survival mode rather than abundant life mode. Learning how to have healthy boundaries in this area will help you to live fully in the gifts God has given you.

Fill Up on God’s Strength
It’s no joke that God is full of limitless strength (Psalm 147:5) and that He wants to partner with us in using the gifts He created in us. God is glorified when we are authentically who He created us to be. I continually rely on God’s grace and strength to help me step through any fear associated with using my gifts. I invite God into the situation, ask Him for wisdom, guidance and help. He always comes through. He’s reliable like that. And it’s for His glory anyway. So, don’t be afraid to step out with God to use your gifts even if you’re feeling weak. God’s not weak. And I seem to remember some guy named Paul talking about how God’s grace is sufficient in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

It Is What You Make It
If I let myself get psyched out about walking up to someone new at church and striking up a conversation, I will probably make a last minute turn into the restroom to avoid them. But if I just relax, don’t think about it too much and simply say hello, more times than not it turns out just fine. In my heart I want to reach out and be welcoming. Sometimes I let my introvert tendencies get in the way, and often I reach out anyway.

I am always glad when I get past my issues and do the things God has placed in my heart to do. You can talk yourself out of doing something good or you can just step out and do the thing. It is what you make it. That goes with walking in the other extroverted gifts God has given me as well. As soon as I surrender it to God, and take that first step through the fear, my heart comes alive with doing what God created me to do. There is much joy in that. And there is much triumph in trusting God enough to make that first step.

The World Needs the Gifts Lying Dormant in You

A long time ago I asked a friend to give me some advice about what I should do with my life. He said:

Be the person you have always wanted to be.”

That sounds so simple and obvious but often the simple is profound. He meant start doing the things you need to do now to lay a foundation for living out the deep desires and gifts God has designed in you. Sometimes we choose or feel forced to put our gifts on the back burner for a period of time. And often we need to re-arrange our priorities or renew our focus in order to bring these gifts back to a full boil in our life. It’s important to take the time to do this because God created certain gifts in you that He wants you to use to glorify Him. We also usually feel more fully alive when we are using these gifts. And…the world needs the gifts lying dormant in you.

Where Do You Begin?
Several years ago I was in a job in which I constantly felt drained and had a long commute attached on top of it. I let myself become bitter and way too focused on myself and my own misery. Previously, over many years, I had served in different areas of leadership in the church. But at this point, even though I wanted to serve…I felt exhausted. I wanted to write more but often couldn’t find inspiration in my small amounts of free time. Eventually I left that job for something better suited for me. I wanted to start serving in the church again but I wasn’t sure of the where and how. So, I decided to start where I was, as a member of a small group Bible study.

I made a decision to change my mindset from being a “mere group member coming to sit and receive” to starting to look for ways to serve and use my gifts within the group. We hosted it at my house. Hospitality. I showed up prepared with something to say. Thinking like a Leader. I was open to God using me to speak into the lives of the other group members. Teaching and Encouragement. After a year I started leading a women’s group. The next step. Even if you’re not in a place of leadership, start having a leader’s attitude and begin using your gifts right where you are. Don’t wait!

Everyone in the Body Has a Gift to Share
The Bible tells us that every person has been given gifts from God to build others up and to glorify God. We should be using them!

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

While it’s good to be using our gifts at weekly worship gatherings, these gifts aren’t and shouldn’t be limited to the four walls of the buildings we call church. Remember that we, as followers of Jesus, are the church. Now, let’s use every gift He has given us for His glory no matter where we work and live. At work, at family gatherings, small groups throughout the week…wherever you are!

Have You Disqualified Yourself? God Hasn’t
We can be hard on ourselves, can’t we? If you’ve done something that makes you feel like you’re now forever disqualified from ministry and God can never use you, I encourage you to return to God and surrender your failure to Him. Ask for His forgiveness. And then receive it. Now, move forward and start using your gifts again to the glory of God. You’re in good company. Look at the life of almost every person in the Bible and you’ll see how they blew it multiple times, but God didn’t give up on them. Just step out in faith. God will meet that faith with His power! Remember…

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

So…
+What makes your heart sing? What are the gifts God has given you? If you don’t know, ask God to show you. He will. Also, ask other people who know you well to point them out. Most likely, they will be able to naturally, or supernaturally, call out the gifts in you.

+Not sure where to start using your gifts? Simply start in the place you’re in right now.

+Ask God to give you the courage to step out and be the person He created you to be.

Prayer
God, thank you for redeeming my life through Jesus and for creating gifts and a deep desire in me to use those gifts. I surrender myself and these gifts to You. Help me to identify these gifts and to begin using them, right where I am, for Your glory. And I ask that You will also open up new opportunities for me to use these gifts. Amen.