Generosity and the Christian Introvert

January 14, 2014


I think I’ve mentioned this before, but our Church is the biggest blessing here in Minneapolis. We were fortunate to find a church home relatively soon after moving to our new city and were thrilled to find ourselves among a group of young couples and families with similar values. Plus, our pastor is really big on the congregation getting together to eat as a way of connecting. It was made to be!

We’re in the middle of a sermon series about generosity, and it’s really got me thinking about how I do and do not display generosity in my own life. Truthfully, God’s been opening my eyes to the lack of generosity I display in my life on a daily basis.

When I first heard we were going to talk about generosity, I immediately thought it would be strictly about how we manage our finances. And, to some degree, it has been about money, but it’s also been about how generous we are with our time and energy. The deeper I dig, the more I realize that almost all of the decisions I make are directly related to how they will impact me and my family.Ā I juggle my social calendar based on what I feel like doing, I save money because I want to take a vacation later in the year, and sometimes I give of my time because I feel that it’s what I should do.

I never really loved college because I hadn’t come to peace with the fact that, in many ways, I’m an introvert. Instead, I spent a lot of time trying to force myself to be an extrovert, only to wonder why I was so unhappy. Once I came to peace with the fact that I needed to say no to some things in order to recharge and have something to give, I became a much happier, more balanced person. But sometimes, I think I can use the introvert card as a crutch.

In the Christian community, I feel like there is a high premium placed on those who are extroverts. (Side note: My friend Kayla has a fantastic post on her blog about this very topic.) They’re the ones who find it easy to strike up random conversations with strangers and share their faith. They volunteer for lots of activities and give of their time to no end.

I know that I have a limited capacity before I burn out and feel tried, drained and overwhelmed. Without sufficient alone time, quiet moments and time just being with my husband at home, I become a different person. Obviously I know God made me this way. He created me in this way for a reason, and I celebrate that. But what does that look like for my faith walk and the way I’m generous and giving of my time and resources?

I’m not sure there is a cut and dried answer to this question, and I certainly don’t have it figured out yet. I’m mulling it over and chewing on it and praying about the best ways to invest my time.

Other introverts, do you have any advice or wisdom to share from your own experiences? I would love to hear them!Ā 

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  • Reply Urban Wife January 14, 2014 at 3:34 am

    Fellow introvert here! Gosh, I have a hard time with this as well and I’m not sure I’ve yet found an ideal answer/solution. My default is to pick an area of service where I know I don’t have to deal with people a lot, for example instead of being a greeter I would pick to work in the coffee bar area. That’s my crutch. I’m curious to read more comments with insight & suggestions.

  • Reply Cindy Germann January 14, 2014 at 4:05 am

    Wow, I really resonate with what you wrote. I also definitely arrange our calendar based on what I can handle. It’s such a struggle for me to find a balance between giving our time and protecting my sanity and avoiding anxiety. I have no answers for you, but I’m struggling right along with you! Sometimes I feel pushed out of my comfort zone and I do my best to follow along in faith and other times I feel like I just have to say no to be respectful of my relationships and my poor husband who gets the brunt of my meltdowns. It’s hard.

    Thanks for tackling a hard subject and prompting me to think about it again!

  • Reply DessertForTwo January 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Your church sounds fabulous. Isn’t it great to be around others your age? Our old church before we moved was mainly old people. But here in St Louis, it’s all young couples of the same faith. I just have a feeling this is going to be a good thing.

    I’m the same way. I like to go out and be social once in a blue moon, but I’m at my best when I’m at home, resting and relaxing. I’m one of those people that doesn’t have to leave the house for weeks and I’m just fine. I try to push myself to be a bit more social because my husband thrives in social situations. I figure it’s good for me and good for him. A little push is okay, I think, because afterwards, the reward of feeling great is worth it. Do you push yourself a tiny bit?

    love this series!


  • Reply claire sweem January 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Yup, this is all me. It’s hard for me because I work at the church and of all things in the communications department. We just wrapped up the same topic of generosity so I’m intrigued, where do you go to church? I’m working hard on putting myselfout there and trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a generous way.

  • Reply Alexa Hapgood January 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I think generosity can be found in lots of places you wouldn’t immediately think of. It doesn’t have to be lavishly extroverted or social–In fact, I think some of the most beautiful expressions of generosity are when it is quiet and relatively unnoticed by everyone else. I think the benefit of being an introvert is that we (me too) are usually more sensitive, contemplative, empathetic, and dedicated listeners. You have the ability to see what others might be lacking or need help with and to find them help. This might be something very simple like noticing someone around you at work is having a hard day and leaving them a little note of encouragement or letting someone with three impatient children at the grocery in front of you in line, or being kind and patient to someone’s mistakes. Being generous just means looking out for others well-being and loving them unconditionally, the way that God loves us. I bet you’re more generous then you think. šŸ™‚

  • Reply Rea January 14, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Oh wow. I can understand this. My energy gets drained SO quickly. One thing that I just did was tell our children’s ministry director that I really preferred not to rotate in as a volunteer in children’s church (the age my kids are in), but would be delighted to rotate into the nursery instead if I could. For some reason holding babies is not nearly as draining as answering questions from 5 year olds…

    On the flip side of that, I feel like my calling for this year is to be more present in people’s lives, a real stretch for me. (I blogged about it last week as part of One Word 365).

    A book that I really liked was ‘Introverts in the Church’ by Adam McHugh. He talks about it being ok to go into the desert and solitude to listen for God and discover the gifts he has given us, then moving back into community to love each other. “Sometimes we will use our words, and sometimes we will model prayerful silence, reflective rest and compassionate listening.” And I think that is actually going to become much more valuable in the church as we realize just what a toll the culture of ‘busyness’ exacts on us.

    • Reply Laura Britton January 15, 2014 at 4:06 am

      I may have to read this book! Thank you for sharing Rea!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry January 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Thank you so much for the book recommendation, Rea! Looking forward to checking it out! šŸ™‚

  • Reply Kayla January 14, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I love the way you think, Madison! I used to think I was extremely extroverted, but realized that I can be outgoing and still need time to recharge. I feel like I’m in a strange balance — sometimes I feel energized by others — and sometimes I feel completely depleted. Jonny is an extrovert to the max — he doesn’t even like stopping by the gas station by myself! I love surrounding myself with others, but I don’t think I’m quite at an open-door policy yet. God is teaching me to let go of perfection, and that has helped.

    I love this: “Obviously I know God made me this way. He created me in this way for a reason, and I celebrate that. But what does that look like for my faith walk and the way Iā€™m generous and giving of my time and resources?”

    A good question to think and wrestle with!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry January 15, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Thanks for the inspiration to write this post, Kayla! I”ve been thinking about the post I read on your blog for quite a while now. I think I teeter on the brink of being introverted and extroverted, but like you, my hubby is an extrovert and would have people over every night if he could! I’ll certainly be thinking and wrestling with finding a balance in the weeks and months to come. I have a feeling God will put the right opportunities in my path.

  • Reply Joanna January 14, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Uh, yes, that’s me! And something I’ve been convicted about lately, too. Although convicted sounds so harsh when really God’s been gently and lovingly showing me how great I feel and how much He blesses when I step outside the small circle where I’m comfortable. Something I’ve been trying to do to is consider my knee-jerk “no” to invitations, volunteer opportunities, hanging out with friends, whatever. When an invite comes in, I take a second and think, “What would that day look like if I said yes?” Usually, not so bad. Then I take into consideration what else I have going on that week–two events or hang outs is my max, one is preferred. If that looks ok, I go for it.

    But, like you, it’s not just the doing and the giving of my time and energy, it’s the heart behind it. I want to have a heart so full of Christ and His love for others that saying yes to other people is never a burden. Praying for it makes it happen. And we’ll get there, you and me (and all the other introverts out there)!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry January 15, 2014 at 11:45 am

      I so resonate with what you’ve said, Joanna! I love the idea of re-considering my “no” reaction, because my family likes to tease me about doing just that! My first reaction is always “no” and then I often think about it twice and reconsider. One, maybe two, things during the weekday is about my max, too. Anything more and I start to feel really drained. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Laura Britton January 15, 2014 at 4:04 am

    I think I’m sort of an introvert/extrovert hybrid, but I definitely need my alone time and time to myself to take a breath, have my routine, and do the things I want to do. After a really busy week or a long time with family (like during holidays) I feel exhausted! I think that there is a balance with being “generous” with your time. On the one hand, yes we should serve and sometimes that means doing something we don’t want to because that is a sacrifice for the Lord, out of love. But in the same way that some people have more money to be generous with than others, some people have more time because they are people-oriented and that’s how God has created them. I think introverts have less time to spend with people simply because that’s how we’re made, and that’s okay! You are so right when you say that God created you this way and He loves you as you are and wants you to serve in the way that’s best for YOU. One thing I try to do is have margin time in my schedule. I try not to book up my weeknights all in a row – I try to space them out so I have time to rest and get my me time in between the activities. I also sometimes have to force myself to say yes to things. I didn’t feel totally comfortable in our small group for probably the entire first year… things sometimes just take time and discipline to choose to be there even if you know you are tired or might feel awkward.

    I don’t know if all this rambling helped at all, but thank you for sharing your thoughts here! I thought this was a really great post and you posed some good questions. It’s definitely hard being an introvert in an extrovert-oriented world, especially within the church. I hope you find your niche and figure out the balance that works for you!

    • Reply Madison Mayberry January 15, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Such great thoughts here, Laura! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. I would agree with you, I probably fall somewhere on the spectrum between introvert and extrovert. At work I am an extrovert most of the time, which I think creates more of a need for me to be quiet and have alone time at home. It’s nice to know there are others who have the same thoughts and are trying to find a balance as well!

  • Reply Lauren January 15, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    What a great post, Madison! It’s actually a topic that has come up quite a bit in many of my recent discussions. In recent years, I too have come to terms with the fact that, though I am a wanna-be extrovert, I am totally an introvert, so much so that I flaunt it šŸ™‚ And because I’m an all-around introvert, that spills over into my faith. Many Christians I’ve come in contact with have made me feel guilty about it ā€” that if I can’t be outspoken and forthcoming about my faith, then it’s apparently not the most important thing to me, that I don’t care enough about sharing the Gospel. In the past, it often caused me to question the importance of my faith and if I can ever be a “good enough” Christian. (Well, no, that’s the point.) Spoken word evangelism is not my gift, heck spoken word period is not my gift, and it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I realized that’s ok. My church did a sermon series based on the rich young ruler, and it evolved into a yearlong “experiment” in walking through the Bible together and individually giving something up to devote those resources elsewhere. I gave up shopping, and instead of wasting my “me time” looking for and thinking about what I “needed,” I gave my attention and resources to more sustaining causes. I also (difficultly) came to realize how to be content with what you have. Through the process, I felt more used by God than ever before. My heart grew for His children who are lacking ā€” either materially or spiritually ā€” and He used me to help supply their needs.

    I don’t think God calls us all to be His witnesses in the same fashion. From a young age, we learn that He created no one else like us ā€” so why do our evangelism “practices” have to be cookie cutter? I think how we share God should be a direct reflection of the personality he gave us because, after all, that’s how we can use His gifts for His glory, and because it’s truly authentic. Obligatory faith-talk and faith-do is kind of empty, yes? I want my Kingdom work to be an overflow of what the HS has filled me with … anything else just makes it feel cheap.

  • Reply Emily Jensen January 16, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Wonderful thoughts, Madison! I believe there are some things that God has called us to which are unique to us personally and no one else can fill those callings. For instance, I am the only person who can be Brad’s wife and the mom to my 3 littles. Then there are other things that God has called me to generally, that other people in the body of Christ can do if I can’t for some reason. Being aware of these two different types of callings has really helped me when it comes to prioritizing and being generous with my time. I think it’s most important that I’m generous with my time in those “Emily specific” callings…because if I’m not generous and ministering to others in those roles, no one else is! Then, if I have time left over (besides the time that I need for Jesus and personal health), I will consider other things as God leads. Right now, being generous and pouring out myself as a wife and mother (plus taking some time to re-charge) takes up the vast majority of my time. I think I’ve learned to stop feeling guilty about all the other things I’m “not doing” because the trade off would be to sacrifice time where I am needed most.
    Looking forward to hearing more content like this! Love it! (and your recent stitch fix post finally convinced me I’ve GOT to sign up soon…cute clothes coming to my door each month? yes!)

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