I recently read a post, Introverts in the Church by Susan Cain. The story described an irritated introvert who was greeted by five different people when visiting a church, and left before the service feeling overwhelmed when he wanted to remain anonymous.
Interesting – especially because I recently spoke with a couple who said they don’t attend church anywhere because they never found one where enough friendly members greeted them, or went beyond suggesting they get acquainted in small cell groups, which they thought too impersonal and distant. Apparently other than the person handing the bulletin at the door, and a pastor or two greeting them on the way out, they want to find a people that will be MORE friendly and develop instant relationships before, during or after the sermon.
Both commentaries show that God created us with more than one personality type. No personality type is God’s “ideal” Christian, but every personality type that has that personal relationship with Christ and is led by His Spirit will be fulfilled to the ideal of that type. We all need all of the personalities in the church, and in our lives.
Because people are human you will also find in every church (and every family, every conference, every gathering of people) those who completely serve the Lord in a way that fulfills their personality. Unfortunately there are also those who think their personality, or the predominant personality is the ideal, and those who use their personality as an excuse to either not share their faith (too shy/phlegmatic) or to share in an obnoxious or overbearing manner. (choleric). Either way it is easy to tell those characters who have not found the freedom and fulfillment that depends on Christ and not personality, because they are busy correcting others to their image rather than correcting their own selves to the image of Christ! Immaturity includes those who would determine another’s level of Christianity through comparison with their own calling, rather than recognizing and encouraging the individual’s (divine) makeup. Besides, the only “ideal” or perfect personality is God’s.
It would benefit every person in every church to understand their own personality type, and the contrasts and compliments to other types. Don’t we all go to certain personalities when we need a good listener, or another personality when we want a quick opinion or insight?
I am mostly an outgoing personality and God often leads me to talk to strangers, yet I too have a need for quiet times and have found a place for both qualities in a church that understands and practices what the Word of God says about the body of Christ.
Wherever one attends church the main thing should be a focus on what God’s Word teaches and not what people ‘think’ or ‘aspire as ideal’, or as a mindless escape with the false aura of worship. What a boring, one-dimensional world (and church) we would have were it of singular personality type.
It is especially thought provoking to consider that God made us in His own image. All of us. The Phlegmatics, the Melancholies, The Sanguines, The Cholerics, and all the combinations of the four! That should drive recognition and honor of God’s image in each person – no matter which personality or variation. Then to accept that we are each wired for our part in the whole body and to lean on and learn from each other – ah…that is what I think truly makes up a complete and healthy body of Christ.