Day 3: Looking Inward So We Can Look Outward (Repeat as Necessary)

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  Luke 5:15-16

Throughout the Gospels, we read of Jesus’ withdraw from the crowds, and from his disciples, to go away from people and pray. I’ve often heard sermons where a pastor (typically an extroverted person) would present this withdrawal as a time for Jesus to take a moment to rest and re-set himself spiritually so that He could rush back to the crowds with renewed energy. Because the crowds are where it’s at!

Now, I tend to see something else at play here: Jesus, as the perfect Son of God, would likely be the perfect blend of extrovert/introvert. Let’s assume he needed his alone time just as much as he needed to be among people. In the passage in Luke, we see Jesus speaking to great crowds, and healing the sick, and then withdrawing. And not just once; he “often withdrew.”

So there is hope for us introverts! Jesus also loved lonely places, safe places, places where He could think and ponder and decompress.

Author Susan Horowitz Cain has written extensively about the often misunderstood personality trait known as introversion in her book “Quiet Revolution: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” To the introvert, being naturally quiet and reserved can seem like a debilitating flaw. In many fields, extroverted personalities excel, such as in business and politics and media/entertainment. We can also see this in churches, where we like the pastor who can socialize and mingle and laugh and slap backs and shake hands and never grow tired of it.

In such a culture, is the thoughtful, shy introvert doomed to life as a second-class citizen? No, says Cain. In fact, she offers numerous examples of how introverts can utilize their natural traits to make a significant impact. Introverts may not talk a lot, but when they do, their words are typically appreciated as wise and nuanced, the result of thoughtful reflection on a situation or a decision.

Cain encourages introverts to embrace the way they were created, rather than feel like they are doing something wrong when they struggle at parties or find small talk terribly awkward. And I believe Scripture reinforces the principle of “less is more” when it comes to communication; certainly the Proverbs talks about the wise man who uses few words, and the foolish man who uses many words.

Prayer: If you need time and space to think, thank God that He has made you that way. And know that Jesus needed such time as well.

Further Reading: Luke 5

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