Hope Ahead

Today as a major Category 4 hurricaneIan–is hitting the west coast of Florida, I’m reminded of the fact that it is very important to listen to the officials and their warnings to take all necessary precautions and stay inside and safe while the hurricane is going through Florida for the next 18-24 hours.

I lived in Central Florida and for a short time in South Florida for over 20 years, and during that time I experienced going through six hurricanes and several tropical storms. As I watch the latest updates on Hurricane Ian today, it brought back memories of some of those past hurricanes.

My very first hurricane experience goes back to August 24-25, 1992, when Hurricane Andrew, a tightly packed Category 5 hurricane, blew threw South Florida causing massive damage and destruction. I had arrived in South Florida at the end of June 1992 to start a one-year doctoral fellowship at a private university located there, and I arrived from the Midwest where I had lived all of my life. I had never experienced a storm on a scale remotely close to a hurricane although I had been through tornados and severe thunderstorms, and blizzards in the winter living in the Midwest.

The apartment where I stayed during Hurricane Andrew was rented by a new friend whom I met at the university where I had my doctoral fellowship. She was a new professor in my program, and she was as terrified as I was going through a hurricane for the first time, and she asked me to come over to her apartment so we could at least go through it together. I remember how eerie it was hearing the howling wind blowing outside for hours without ever letting up through the closed windows and glass patio door, and the snapping of trees in the middle of the night. We lost electricity at some point and in the worst of the storm we both huddled in her small windowless bathroom with a couple of candles for light which was the safest place to be. In the middle of the night during the height of the storm I fell asleep on the bathroom floor from sheer exhaustion as we both had been awake for at least the past 24 hours if not longer. She fell asleep in the empty bathtub. We were grateful to have each other’s company and to not have had to go through that experience alone.

As it turned out over those 20 years I lived in Florida, Hurricane Andrew was not only the first hurricane I experienced, but the worst of the six hurricanes I experienced. It’s been 30 years now since I lived through Hurricane Andrew, and despite going through several more hurricanes since that time, it is the hurricane I remember the most.

Any kind of natural disaster can leave us feeling helpless and out of control. And one question that comes to mind regarding natural disasters is why does God allow them to happen? GotQuestions.org provides us with the following answer:

Why does God allow earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, wildfires, and other natural disasters? Tragedies cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature (Genesis 1:1). Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.

The Bible proclaims that Jesus Christ holds all of nature together (Colossians 1:16-17). Could God prevent natural disasters? Absolutely! Does God sometimes influence the weather? Yes, as we see in Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17Numbers 16:30-34 shows us that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin. The book of Revelation describes many events which could definitely be described as natural disasters (Revelation chapters 6, 8, and 16). Is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Absolutely not.

In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:19-21 tells us, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The fall of humanity into sin had effects on everything, including the world we inhabit. Everything in creation is subject to “frustration” and “decay.” Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.

We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur. Why did God allow a tsunami to kill over 225,000 people in Asia? Why does God allow hurricanes to destroy the homes of thousands of people? For one thing, such events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity. Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realize how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant. What we do know is this: God is good! Many amazing miracles occurred during the course of natural disasters that prevented even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to reevaluate their priorities in life. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ! God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies (Romans 8:28). (Quote source here.)

An article titled, Hope in Hurricanes and Disasters,” by Rev. Michael Beck, senior pastor of Wildwood United Methodist Church, was published on September 22, 2017, at the same time Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida. He writes:

Last Sunday, with Hurricane Irma bearing down on the state of Florida, my wife, Jill Beck, and I gathered in the fellowship hall of Wildwood United Methodist Church, to “Facebook Live” a makeshift service to our people at Wildwood and Webster United Methodist Churches. Services were cancelled, as our primary concern was the safety of our congregations, and the outer bands of the storm were already buffeting our communities. Over 1,200 people tuned in to the feed that day and almost 200 posted comments, far more folks than either of our congregations gathered in our sanctuaries on most Sunday mornings. 

The fear was tangible. People were looking for hope. Much of the state had been evacuated and news reporters relentlessly warned of the dangers of this massive category 4 storm. The significance of the moment was not lost on us. Our goal was to offer a word of comfort and hope in the face of the impending disaster. We realized as we walked the empty church campus that Sunday morning, in strange silence, that this was the first time in many year— potentially in the 130 plus years of the church’s history—that no songs of praise would be sung, prayers offered, or sermon preached. We refused to break that legacy, and began re-thinking what kind of worship needed to happen in that moment by harnessing the latest technology.

Oddly enough, I had just returned from Portland, Oregon, where fires raged up and down the west coast. Smoke blotted out the sun there, casting an eerie red apocalyptic glow over the area. The day before, a horrible earthquake ravaged Mexico. I flew back to Florida just in time to escape the fire, right into the oncoming flood. Weeks before: Charlottesville, violence, civil unrest, and massive political upheaval.

I couldn’t help but to ask myself during all this, are these the “signs” that Jesus spoke of? Is this the end of the world as we know it? That anxiety was further fueled by Social Media doomsday prophets, trumpeting proclamations that God had abandoned us in anger because human sin had come to an apex. Some of those statements were to the effect of “God is punishing us with multiple natural disasters.”

I struggle with this kind of world view in which God is deterministically micromanaging creation, using fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes to teach humanity a lesson. I was truly pressed in my faith to share my belief in an ultimately good and loving God, amid devastating natural disasters that claim human life.

While I don’t have a sufficient theological explanation for why there are natural disasters in this world, I can share how I have experienced God’s sustaining presence when in their midst, how God uses these destructive forces, and how, as the church, we are sometimes God’s answer to them. Although I don’t believe God causes suffering or natural disasters to “punish us,” they are undeniably pervading forces in our world. Throughout my ministry, I have been brought to the understanding that there are questions to which no answer will suffice, and we must live in the mystery…. (Quote source and the rest of his article are available here).

In reading the rest of his article, he brings up Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the storm, and he makes the following observation:

In this story, Jesus is in the boat asleep in the middle of the storm. He’s sleeping “on the cushion” meaning he’s not just dozing off, he’s sound asleep! Exhausted from his work among the crowds, the “do not disturb sign” is out. The disciples freak out and wake him up. Even in his sheer exhaustion, with no Starbucks for miles, Jesus then tells the storm to shush and it obeys him. When Jesus says, “peace be still” there is a “dead calm.” He then criticizes their lack faith, which makes me wonder what he expected them to do during a storm when the boat was sinking? Should they have stilled the storm themselves? Or was Jesus going to use this as a group water-walking 101 class? 

Now we know that Jesus doesn’t calm every storm. In this case, I get the sense that just having him in the boat should have been enough. If only one of the disciples would have said “hey guys, we have the carpenter of the universe in the boat with us, seriously, everything is going to be okay.”          

Can we have “peace” and “dead calm” even during a hurricane? I think we can, if we know Jesus is in the boat. Where is God amidst the storm? The short answer is “with us”. This passage shows us that God is not manipulating the wind, sending the tempest tossed sea to flood the boat, Jesus is in the boat with us. If Jesus is in our boat, the hurricane can do its worst, and we are going to be okay. (Quote source and the rest of his article are available here).

In one last article for this post titled, 4 Hopeful Prayers for Restoration from Natural Disasters,” by Hope Bolinger, Managing & Acquisitions Editor at End Game Press and the Founder of Generation Hope Books, published on March 4, 2020, which was just a few days before the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic began on March 11, 2020, she offers us the following:

It seems we cannot pass a day without hearing of a natural disaster destroying homes, taking lives, and devastating entire cities or lands. Being at the mercy of natural forces, we can often feel scared or distraught when facing natural disaster.

In the midst of stressful storms and natural disasters—and the fear that grips us—we can still rely on a God who has been in the middle of storms before when he walked the earth (Matthew 8:23–27).

No matter what natural disasters we see on the news, how much our family or friends have been affected, or whether we’re weathering the phenomena of nature ourselves—we can turn to the Lord and pray for restoration and hope during these times of upheaval and anxiety.

For courage during disaster, or peace to withstand disasters to come, we can lift these four following prayers to heaven:

1. Prayer for those we don’t know who are experiencing or recovering from a natural disaster (she offers a personal prayer and includes Luke 8:22-25 at this link).

2. Prayer for those experiencing anxiety due to a natural isdaster (she offers a personal prayer and includes Isaiah 54:10 at this link).

3. Prayer for family and close loved ones experiencing a natural disaster (she offers a personal prayer and includes Psalm 57:1-2 at this link).

4. Prayer for personally experiencing a natural disaster (she offers a personal prayer and includes Isaiah 54:11-12 at this link).

God does not forget us in the midst of great tragedy. Instead, he sits with us during the most difficult moments and helps us to rise again.

Whether you have a friend, a family member, or even have experienced a natural disaster yourself, turn to the Almighty who holds you in his arms and protects you underneath the shadow of his wings.

In the end, the earth will experience no natural disasters and God will make everything right. But for now, we rest in the comfort of knowing God still has a wonderful plan for our lives, and no natural disaster can even come close to matching the power of our powerful God. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with Jesus’ words found in John 16:33 (NIV): In this world you will have trouble [trials and tribulations like hurricanes and natural disasters, too]…

But take heart . . .

I have overcome . . .

The world . . . .

YouTube Video: “Hope in Front of Me” by Danny Gokey:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Who Do You Trust?

This morning I read a blog post by a Christian blogger who often reflects on things that are going on in our society today. The blog post that she published this morning is titled Withholding Affection?” and it got me thinking about a few things. She started off her post with the following paragraph:

Withholding affection or withdrawing favor is not okay. It’s emotionally manipulative, psychologically abusive, and it’s what I call, “The Yo Yo.” It’s that place where I don’t know where I stand with you–Am I in? Am I out? Am I canceled forever? Am I supposed to do something to win back your affection? What did I even do to lose it? (Quote source and the rest of her post are available at this link.)

All good questions especially when someone is pushing our buttons or gaslighting us through punishment, control, or to manipulate us. She uses the example of social media, specifically Facebook, as she has been locked out of her account again, and apparently as she mentioned in her post this has happened several times over the past several years, and they end up lifting the ban at some point later (you can read about it in her post).

Her issue with Facebook reminded me of a pic regarding trust issues that was recently posted on FB that I thought was very relevant for the times in which we are living. I smiled as I could relate to that pic which I have included in this post. We live in an age of 24/7 news cycles, social media, disinformation campaigns, and smartphones capable of tracking our every move and conversation, so this pic is so, so relevant as well has funny. It also reminds me of a 1997 movie titled Wag the Dog,” with several big name actors (Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Anne Heche, and Woody Harrelson, to name a few). Here’s a brief description of the movie: “Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a Presidential sex scandal.” (Quote source here.)

Well, you get the idea. Often, nothing is as it appears to be on the surface whether it is regarding trust issues or presidential elections. And on the topic of trust issues, did you know that the middle verse in the Bible has to do with trust issues? The middle verse in the Bible is Psalm 118:8 and it states:

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. (NKJV)

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. (NIV)

It is better to trust the LORD for protection than to trust anyone else. (CEV)

The author of Psalm 118 is assumed to be King David, and he certainly knew about trust issues. He totally trusted in God from his youth as a shepherd boy and the slayer of Goliath, and later on when King Saul was trying to kill him, and when David became King. In a blog post titled, What the Story of David Teaches Us About Trust,” by Rebecca (no last name mentioned) who is the mother of twins, and she also has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, she writes:

David’s trust in God allowed him to rescue sheep from the mouths of lions, to defeat Goliath, the nine-foot giant, with only a handful of stones, and to conquer countless enemies as king of Israel.

And so, a question to ponder as you think about David and his trust in God to work all things for his good, is this: Who do you trust?

Do you trust God to provide for you in all circumstances?

Do you trust him to rescue you from the mouths of bears and lions?

Or do you trust in things? In circumstances? In relationships, and mortgages, and jobs, and accomplishments?

Do you trust in your own power more than in that of God?

Trusting in these other things can be disappointing and exhausting. In fact, it is always disappointing and exhausting, since all of these other things are temporary. They don’t last. We are happy and secure when we have them, and anxious and depressed when we don’t.

Learning to trust in the love and the power of God gives you a security that allows you to face lions, rescue sheep, and say, “No big deal. I trust that God’s got this.” (Quote source here.)

This may be one of the shortest blog posts I’ve written in a very long time, but it’s the message that is important, and not the length of the blog post. So I’m going to end this brief post with two verses on one of the most important topics we have regarding God, and that is to trust God completely in everything. Here are those two verses found in Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him…

And He . . .

Shall direct . . .

Your paths . . . .

YouTube Video: “Heart of the Father” by Ryan Ellis:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

The Perks of Being An Introvert–Part 2

My last post published on this blog on September 5, 2022, titled, The Perks of Being An Introvert,” got my juices flowing on this particular topic, so this post is a follow-up to that post. I also published a blog post titled, In Praise of Introverts,” on my second blog back on April 23, 2019, but that’s been almost 3 1/2 years ago, and I had completely forgotten about it. I thought about republishing it on this blog, but you can read on my other blog at this link.

Let’s start off with 30 humorous memes that every true Introvert can relate to from an article titled, 30 Funny Memes That Will Make Every Introvert Laugh Out Loud,” by Greta Jaruševičiūtė, Photo Editor-in-Chief and a staff writer at BoredPanda.com. Click here to read/see all 30 memes (#10 is my favorite).

I will admit that some of those memes might be a bit excessive, but they are LOL funny to those of us who truly understand what it means to be introverted and misunderstood by the Extroverts out there who think we are just plain weird. Also, Introverts make up 25% to 40% of the population, and it is important to note that being introverted does not mean an Introvert is socially anxious or shy (source here).

Since I’ve already published two blog posts on the topic of being an Introvert and what that means (click here and here or see first paragraph above), this post will focus on a different aspect of Introversion.

In an article titled, Myers-Briggs: 8 Introverted Personality Types,” by , Ph.D., LPC, contributor on MindfulMuse.com, she writes:

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) organizes personality into 16 distinct types, based on Carl Jung‘s theory of psychological type. We all exhibit different “preferences” for ways of being and interacting with others in the world. The idea behind personality type is that characteristics that appear uninterpretable or even odd, make sense when we consider these behaviors through the lens of personality.

People are not usually “always” one way or the other. We can act different ways in different situations and around different people. This is highly adaptive and enables us to alter our behaviors to fit different social contexts. For example, someone who might identify as being highly introverted might be able to utilize extraverted tendencies adaptively when he or she needs to engage in an important public speaking event.

The Myers-Briggs concept of introversion (vs. extroversion) involves a tendency to derive energy from time spent alone; time spent around other people may be experienced as emotionally or psychologically draining.  These individuals tend to be sensitive to their environments and may even report being easily “over-stimulated” by the amount of sounds, smells, colors, and interactions taking place around them.  A newer concept called the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) goes into greater detail with this aspect of introversion (not all introverts have this experience).

8 Introverted Personality Types

Introverted individuals generally prefer to take time on their own to contemplate or reflect upon ideas before taking decisive action.  They are also usually more comfortable after a decision has been made.  It is not uncommon for introverted people to experience liking the “idea” of something better than the “real thing.”

ISTJ (Introverted / Sensing / Thinking / Judging – 16.4% of males, 6.9% of females)

ISTJ’s are quiet and serious, generally interested in a peaceful and secure way of life.  They are known for their responsible, dependable, and thorough natures.  They are logical, practical, and work steadily towards goals without much distractibility.  They are often interested in supporting traditions and establishments.  ISTJ’s usually take great enjoyment out of order and organization in both their home and work lives.

ISFJ (Introverted / Sensing / Feeling / Judging – 8.1% of males, 19.4% of females)

ISFJ’s are quiet, conscientious, and kind.  They are responsible in nature and are committed to meeting their obligations.  They have a tendency to put the needs of others above their own.  Stable and practical in nature, they value security and traditions.  ISFJ’s tend to have a rich inner world and are highly attuned to the feelings of others.  They usually are very interested in ways of serving others.

INFJ (Introverted / Intuitive / Feeling / Judging – 1.3% of males, 1.6% of females)

INFJ’s are quietly forceful, sensitive, and original.  They seek out meaning in the connections between people, ideas, and possessions.  They are curious to understand the motives of others and generally have great insight into other people.  They are conscientious in nature and committed to their firm values.  They tend to develop a clear vision about how to best serve the common good and then are organized and decisive in the ways in which they choose to implement this vision.

INTJ (Introverted / Intuitive / Thinking / Judging – 3.3% of males, 0.8% of females)

INTJ’s are independent, original, determined, and analytical.  They have a great ability to turn theories into solid plans of action.  They easily see patterns in external events and are able to explain these patterns thoroughly. When they are committed, they are capable of organizing a job and carrying it through to fruition.  They tend to have high standards for their own performance as well as the performance of others.  They are natural leaders, but they are willing to follow if they trust existing leaders.

ISTP (Introverted / Sensing / Thinking / Perceiving – 8.5% of males, 2.4% of females)

ISTP’s are quiet and reserved, interested in the way that things work.  They are highly skilled with mechanical work and may be interested in/talented in extreme sports.  They are flexible and tolerant, and tend to quietly observe until a solution becomes clear.  They are interested in cause and effect and tend to organize facts using principles.  They can be perceived as somewhat detached or analytical, and they excel at finding solutions to practical problems.

ISFP (Introverted / Sensing / Feeling / Perceiving – 7.6% of males, 9.9% of females)

ISFP’s are quiet, serious, sensitive, and kind.  They dislike conflict and are unlikely to engage in activities where conflict is likely to occur.  They are loyal and faithful, with a particular appreciation for the aesthetic.  They tend to be flexible and open-minded, and are likely to be creative and original.  They prefer to have their own space and work within their own time frame.  They appreciate the present moment and enjoy what is going on around them in that moment.

INFP (Introverted / Intuitive / Feeling / Perceiving – 4.1% of males, 4.6% of females)

INFP’s are reflective, quiet, and idealistic.  They are loyal to their values and to the people who are important to them.  They tend to have a well-developed value system, which they strive to live in accordance with.  INFP’s are loyal, adaptable, and laid-back (until one of their values are threatened).  They have an interest in understanding and helping others.

INTP (Introverted / Intuitive / Thinking / Perceiving – 4.8% of males, 1.8% of females)

INTP’s are original, logical, and creative thinkers. They tend to get very excited about ideas and theories.  INTP’s usually value logic, knowledge, and competence. They are quiet and reserved, and may be difficult to get to know well. They are usually individualistic and are uninterested in either leading or following others.

If you felt that you identified as an introvert in my recent post, Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which specific introverted type stood out to you the most?  For some, a brief description of their Myers-Briggs type is a bit of an “a-ha!” moment.

For others, they may identify with features of multiple types.  It is important to remember that no one type is “better” or “worse” than any other.  Each type has specific strengths and weaknesses; they are simply different.

If you are interested in taking the official MBTI personality assessment, you may take it at MBTI Online for $49.95. For an unofficial version of the Jung Typology Test, you may take it for free aHumanMetrics. The Myers & Briggs Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.myersbriggs.org/ (Quote source here.)

Of course, there are 8 Extroverted types in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, too, and you can read about all 8 Extroverted types at this link.

I first encountered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) when I was attending graduate school at a state university back in 1990 when the program I was a part of required all students to take the MBTI personality assessment. Upon graduating with my master’s degree, I spent the next 20 years working in academic settings (public and private colleges and universities), and in several of these work settings they also required that staff members take the MBTI personality assessment. With the exception of one time when my result was INFJ, my usual results were always ISFJ. As it turned out, I was very close to the middle of the “S” (sensing) and “N” (intuition) continuum which is why one time when I took the test the result was INFJ. ISFJ is the most common type found in females (19.4%) and INFJ is the second most uncommon type found in females (1.6%) according to the stats noted in the article above. When I read through the differences between ISFJ and INFJ in an article at this link, I could tell I tend more towards ISFJ.

Because I worked in academic/educational settings (mostly secular) from the mid-1980’s for the rest of my working career, taking assessment tests like the Myers Briggs Personality Assessment was a “big thing” in those settings. This particular assessment is very good for understanding your basic personality preferences and your strengths and weaknesses.

From a Christian perspective, GotQuestions.org provides the following information regarding the MBTI:

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) is a popular personality inventory first published in 1943 and based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. The test was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, as a way to help people understand themselves and each other better.

The MBTI tests for preferences in four different areas and specifies sixteen personality types. The areas of preference include (1) a focus on the exterior world (extroversion, E) or the interior world (introversion, I), (2) a focus on basic information (sensing, S) or interpreting and adding meaning to information (intuition, N), (3) making decisions by first looking at logic (thinking, T) or by first considering the people involved (feeling, F), and (4) a desire for things to be decided (judging, J) or being open to other options (perceiving, P). The sixteen personality types are identified as combinations of those four preference; for example, ISTJ is a personality type that is basically introverted, focused on basic information, logical, and most comfortable when decision-making has been resolved.

The MBTI is a popular assessment tool. Whether or not people have taken the official psychological assessment, many have heard of the terms and have unofficially tested their personalities or self-identified with a specific type. Descriptions abound of general personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, best jobs for each type, best learning environments for each type, and even best romantic combinations of each type.

The Myers & Briggs Foundation is careful to point out that no one personality type is better than any other personality type. Also, personality types are not indicative of ability or character. The types are simply offered as helpful tools in better understanding oneself. Personality type might be helpful in making choices but should not be the only tool a person uses to determine career path, romantic partners, or the like.

The secular scientific considerations of the MBTI notwithstanding, is the idea that there are different personality types biblical? Are personality types something Christians should consider? Are they helpful in any way? Let’s find out what the Bible says.

We know that all humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). We know that we are uniquely formed and that God fully knows us and fully loves us (Psalm 139). No two human beings are exactly the same. Nothing in the MBTI contradicts this. Simple observation tells us that some people seem energized by spending time with others whereas other people recharge best alone. The Bible leaves room for there being different types of people as well as for commonalities among the different types. The fact that John Doe is unique does not mean that every single thing about Mr. Doe is different from everyone else. It does not contradict biblical truth to classify certain general similarities among people.

The benefit of the MBTI for Christians is in helping us better understand ourselves so as to better serve God. Often, our personality traits coincide with God’s call on our lives. For example, we might tend more toward introversion and have as part of our call being a writer. Or perhaps we tend more toward extroversion and find that God has asked us to host large-group Bible studies. Knowing our “natural” strengths can help us be attuned to the places where we can serve most effectively; knowing our “natural” weaknesses might help us avoid paths that would more easily trip us up.

Understanding personality types can also help Christians better love and serve others. For example, when we know that one of our friends tends more toward introversion, we’ll know that time spent together one-on-one is probably more meaningful than time spent together in larger social settings. If our friend tends more toward extroversion, we’ll know that he enjoys being included in social activities so we can be sure to invite him. Understanding personality types can also help us more easily forgive others. For instance, when an introverted friend says “no” to our invitation to a get-together, we might not take it as personally. Or, when a person who is a “thinker” talks first about the bottom-line in a church staffing decision, we can recognize that his words are not due to hard-heartedness but to the way God has naturally wired him for analysis.

One danger of the MBTI for Christians, or for anyone, is in making personality type inflexible and using it to justify stagnation. One’s personality type does not excuse one’s bad behavior, nor does it limit one’s ability to change or to do (and enjoy) things not stereotypically within the type. An introvert is still called to share the gospel. An extrovert is still called to spend time alone with God. A thinker should still consider the people his decisions affect. A feeler is still expected to be a good steward. When God calls us outside of our comfort zone, personality type is not a reason to disobey. If anything, a call of God that challenges our natural inclinations gives us more opportunity to trust Him and a deeper understanding that it is only His work in us that causes amazing things to be accomplished (see Zechariah 4:6).

Another danger of the MBTI is in allowing it to define the totality of our identities. A Christian is first and foremost a child of God (John 1:12). Our personality is something God designed, and it is certainly something to explore so that we can bring glory to God. But we are defined first by Jesus. Paul was willing to lose all things “that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own . . . but that which is through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:8–9).

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI can be a helpful tool in understanding God’s unique design of humanity, and of yourself specifically. It hints at both the order and diversity with which God created the world, demonstrating His logic and His artistry. Understanding ourselves can help us better steward the gifts God has given us. Rather than try to become someone else, we can thank God for His unique design and make the best use of the gifts God has given us. (Quote source here.)

At this point, I’ve pretty much covered the topic on being an introvert (it does get old being misunderstood just because one is quieter then those who are more vocal and outgoing among us), so I’ll move on to a new topic in my next blog post. I’ll end this post with a quote from Jenn Granneman, author of the bestselling book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World,” and creator of IntrovertDear.com. She states: Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude…

And the inner world . . .

Will always be . . .

Our home . . . .

YouTube Video: “Fill My Cup” by Andrew Ripp:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The Perks of Being An Introvert

I’m an introvert, but not excessively so (but then again, maybe more so then not). According to an article published on The Minds Journal titled, Hey Introvert”:

Introverts are the most misunderstood people on the planet. They care deeply about others but their inability to express or demonstrate their feelings earns them the reputation of being rude, shy, and whatnot.

Introverts enjoy their own company and feel drained out when they are forced to socialize with people they’re not comfortable with. They maintain a very small group of friends who are close to them and privy to their innermost thoughts. (Quote source here.)

Some well known introverts include leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama (source here), along with Bill Gates, Guy Kawasaki, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffett (source here). Also included in the list of introverts are Oprah Winfrey, Amy Schumer, Rosa Parks, Meryl Streep, and J.K. Rowling (source here). 

Yesterday I found myself in a brief conversation with someone I had not met before, and he asked me a few questions that led me to answer that I tend to be an introvert, but not excessively so. That made him laugh and he said, “So, you’re an extroverted introvert.” I laughed and said, “Probably so.” 

This morning I got to thinking about the topic of introverts from that brief conversation, and I decided to look online to see if there is a category known as “extroverted introvert,” and I found several articles on the topic. It does exist and it is sometimes also known as ambivert.”

One of the articles I found was published on October 5, 2018, on IntrovertDear.com titled, If You Relate to These 10 Signs, You’re Probably an ‘Extroverted’ Introvert,” by Jenn Granneman, founder of IntrovertDear.com and author of “The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World.” I’ll list the 10 signs below, and you can read the descriptions for each sign in her article at this link. Here is the opening statement to her article along with the list of the ten signs:

The extroverted introvert is known by many names. Some call it an “outgoing introvert” or “social” introvert. Others argue that this is ambiversion.

So what does “extroverted introvert” really mean?

The thing to understand about introversion and extroversion is they are not all-or-nothing traits. Think of these two temperaments as being on a spectrum. Some people fall closer to the extreme ends, making them either very introverted or very extroverted. Most people are closer to the middle, which gives them qualities of both introversion and extroversion. 

If you think of yourself as an extroverted introvert, it probably means you’re an introvert at heart—but you may be more outgoing than other introverts because your personality is more middle-of-the-spectrum.

Are you an extroverted introvert? If so, you’ll recognize yourself in these 10 signs [see article for details on each of these signs. I’ve added a personal note after each sign listed below]. (Quote source here):

    1. Your energy level is closely tied to your environment. (True.)
    2. You find people to be both intriguing and exhausting. (True, too.)
    3. Certain people and interactions drain you while others recharge you. (True again.)
    4. You can be charming but also deeply introspective and reflective. (Charming… maybe.)
    5. When you feel rested and recharged, you reach out to others. (Maybe, depends.)
    6. You need time to warm up in social situations. (Depends on the social situation.)
    7. It actually takes less energy to say what’s on your mind than to make small talk. (So true.)
    8. You’re selectively social. (Yes.)
    9. You have no interest in trying to prove yourself in a crowd of strangers. (True.)
    10. You’re often confused for an extrovert. (Usually when not expected.)

This website, IntrovertDear.com, is an excellent resource for introverts and parents of introvert children, and anyone involved in relationships with introverts who want to understand them better. I also looked at the contents of her book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World,” on Amazon.com (I’ve decided to ordered this book online), and in Chapter 3 she lists seven misconceptions that are frequently believed by others regarding introverts. Here are the seven misconceptions: (1) rude, (2) antisocial, (3) lack passion, (4) hate people, (5) shy, (6) poor leaders, and (7) don’t know how to have fun. As an introvert, I can attest that introverts are not any of these things listed above.

So let’s take a closer look at the signs of the introvert personality. In an article published on June 24, 2020, on WebMD.com titled, Introvert Personality,” by Rachel Reiff Ellis, freelance writer, she writes:

What Is an Introvert?

An introvert is a person with qualities of a personality type known as introversion, which means that they feel more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas, rather than what’s happening externally. They enjoy spending time with just one or two people, rather than large groups or crowds.

When you hear the word introvert, you might think of someone who’s shy or quiet and prefers to be alone. While that may be true for some introverts, there’s much more to this personality type. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert all depends on how you process the world around you.

A psychologist named Carl Jung began using the terms introvert and extrovert (sometimes spelled extravert) in the 1920s. These two personality types sort people into how they get or spend their energy. Introverts, Jung said, turn to their own minds to recharge, while extroverts seek out other people for their energy needs.

Signs You Might Be an Introvert

Around one-third to one-half of all people in the U.S. are introverts. Though it looks different in everyone, introverts have many of the same patterns of behavior. In general, introverts:

    • Need quiet to concentrate
    • Are reflective
    • Are self-aware
    • Take time making decisions
    • Feel comfortable being alone
    • Don’t like group work
    • Prefer to write rather than talk
    • Feel tired after being in a crowd
    • Have few friendships, but are very close with these friends
    • Daydream or use their imaginations to work out a problem
    • Retreat into their own mind to rest

Types of Introverts

Being an introvert isn’t an all-or-nothing stamp on your personality. Psychologists think of introverts as falling somewhere on a scale. Some people are more introverted than others. Other people fall right in the middle of the scale. They’re called ambiverts.

Introverts usually have a few extroverted traits mixed in with their introverted ones, and vice versa. There are a wide range of ways to be an introvert. One study shows that introverts tend to fall into one of four subtypes:

Social introverts. This is the “classic” type of introvert. Social introverts like small groups and quiet settings over crowds.

Thinking introverts. People in this group are daydreamers. They spend a lot of time in their thoughts and tend to have creative imaginations.

Anxious introverts. They seek out alone time not just because they like it, but also because they often feel awkward or shy around people.

Restrained/inhibited introverts. These introverts think before they act. They aren’t likely to make a decision on a whim. Typically they take longer to take action.

Your introverted ways may change over time, and in different settings, too. You’re not likely to swing from introvert to extrovert. But it’s possible you could become more or less introverted, depending on what’s going on in your life.

Introversion Versus Shyness

Many people think of introverts as shy, but the two aren’t linked. Introversion is a personality type, while shyness is an emotion.

People who are shy tend to feel awkward or uncomfortable when they’re in social situations, especially when they’re around strangers. They may feel so nervous, they become sweaty. Their heart may beat quicker, and they may get a stomachache. They may be inclined to skip social events because they don’t like the negative feelings that take over their thoughts and bodies when they have to go to parties or other activities.

People who are introverted also prefer to skip social events, but it’s because they feel more energized or comfortable doing things on their own or with one or two other people. Introverts don’t choose to skip social events because they have strong negative reactions to larger gatherings the way that shy people do; they just prefer being alone or in very small groups.

Myths About Introverts

One common myth about introverts is that they’re shy. Some introverts may be shy, but this is not the case for all introverts. Other myths include:

    • Introverts are unfriendly. Being an introvert doesn’t affect how friendly you may be. Some people may think that introverts are unfriendly because they don’t tend to have large groups of friends, and they may reflect on situations quietly rather than joining in on conversations at gatherings.
    • Introverts can’t be leaders. Although people may think of an extroverted personality when they imagine a leader, introverts have the skills to be bosses and leaders, too. Some of their qualities make them effective leaders: They listen to their employees’ ideas, they can stay focused on long-term goals, and they may seem less threatening, so people may accept them in their roles.
    • It’s hard to get to know introverts. Introverts prefer to have deep friendships with only a handful of people. They may not open up to everyone who wants to small-talk, but the people they’re close with know them very well and develop real friendships with them. (Quote source here.)

When I did a Google search on the topic of the perks of being an introvert, many links to articles showed up listing the number of benefits from anywhere between 5-16 benefits, and that was just on the first page of the search. For the purposes of this blog post (and to keep it within a reasonable length), I’ll end this post with a list from an article titled, 12 Reasons to Celebrate Introverts on World Introvert Day (Jan. 2nd),” by Jenn Granneman, founder of IntrovertDear.com. And yes, Virginia,” there really is a World Introvert Day, and it is celebrated every year on January 2nd. Here’s the list of 12 reasons (and full descriptions of each of these 12 reasons are available here):

  1. Introverts really know their stuff.
  2. Introverts are problem-solvers and idea-generators.
  3. Give up? Not yet.
  4. Introverts make better team players than extroverts over the long run.
  5. Introverts are capable of incredible depth and intimacy in their relationships.
  6. Introverts know the power of words.
  7. Introverts are low maintenance.
  8. Introverts can be the calm in the center of the storm.
  9. Introverts “get” you.
  10. Introverts look before they leap.
  11. Introverts create worlds inside their heads—and help create the world we live in.
  12. Who runs the world? Introverts. (See the list of world leaders at this link.)

So, to all of the introverts out there in the world, it’s time to…

Celebrate, celebrate . . .

Dance . . .

To the music . . . (P.S.–and you don’t have to go to the ball, either)

YouTube Video: “Celebrate” by Three Dog Night:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here