Being introverted is not a sin, despite what @Challies would tell you

Tim Challies is one of those people who’s made a living out of having an opinion and running a blog to express that opinion on. I was never a fan of his material, generally finding his writings to be contradictory or at odds with the plain language of Scripture, and he seems to have done it again regarding the topic of introversion.

In one sense he declares that God made him an introvert, but then seems to immediately discount his introverted desires as being nothing more than an expression of his sin nature:

I have no right to crave introverted solitude. Rather, the gospel compels me to deny even that trait and all its desires in order to serve other people. I am introverted, but this does not give me a different calling in life than the gregarious Christian.

So Jesus also had no right to leave His disciples for time alone with the Father in introverted solitude? Challies basically suggests that Jesus was sinning by craving this time alone too. Good job.

Why is it so hard to simply say these desires alone are not wrong, or a sin, only when we take them to extremes? It’s not wrong to crave solitude, especially when we use that time to draw closer to God (where the LORD Himself leaves us an example). The gospel isn’t telling is to deny these traits, only to MODERATE them. Just as with food, we’re not sinning by eating, but we are when we overindulge in a spirit of gluttony.

All Challies had to say was, “It’s ok to crave solitude, just not 24 hours a day,” but he has such a tendency to overly intellectualize things that even simple matters of spirituality get twisted into convoluted and contradictory discourses.

I also don’t care for the evident double standard: where’s the admonition for extroverts to deny their nature accordingly and dial down their sometimes obnoxiously gregarious attitudes? Where many introverts crave intimate and meaningful relationships with a few, extroverts are focused on expanding their social circles as far as possible, which can often result in many relationships being a mile wide but only an inch deep. I’ve met extroverts like this in church, and I believe they do much harm to the body of Christ. Theirs is a numbers game, which unfortunately tends to dovetail well with the modern church’s mission to expand their membership as much as possible, focusing on the quantity rather than the quality of believers they attract.

I’m surprised that Tim Challies’s takeaway from reading Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” was not, “You know, the church has become too hyper-extroverted, we need to find a way to balance this out a bit,” but instead, “Introverts need to stop being so darned selfish.” He either glossed over or completely ignored the evidence Cain presented, and how much damage had been done by churches who have assimilated society’s modern push towards the hyper-extroverted by following the gospel according to Dale Carnegie. We are seeing a trend towards extremes here, but it’s not happening on the introverted side.

And this is a guy who regularly gets invited on speaking circuits at churches too. Awesome. I really hope people don’t take him at his word, and learn to compare and contrast his assertions to what the Bible actually says.


When I was doing some research about my personality profile (INFJ), I came across an interesting article about The Tin Man.  In the Wizard of Oz, the four main characters are said to represent four temperaments: Improviser, Stabilizer, Theorist and Catalyst.  The INFJ falls under the fourth temperament, Catalyst, which is what the Tin Man represents.

The Tin Man Poses For Camera
How YOU doin’?

Something not to be overlooked about the Tin Man is how he is made of impenetrable metal, not flesh. This is a powerful symbol, meant to draw your attention to something important about this character. When Catalysts get emotionally injured, they tend to erect psychological “barriers” to avoid suffering further damage. It’s a completely understandable reaction. The paradox is that the same barriers which protect them from getting wounded will also act as barriers that inadvertently preclude them from feeling loved.

That’s certainly been my experience, which is why I’m so loathe to let those barriers down, because no sooner than I do someone quickly uses the opportunity to stab a dagger in my face, and thus the walls quickly go back up again.  As much as I want to experience love, I hate leaving myself vulnerable because I can’t think of any past examples where I DIDN’T get hurt as a result of letting my guard down.  I’m very suspicious of people, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell who I can safely trust, though the safe course of action obviously would be to trust NO one.

As much as I’d love to confide in others and reveal my deepest thoughts, my tendency is to keep others at arm’s length and leave many details about my life shrouded in mystery.  In a way my blog helps me find a middle ground to all that, where I can express my thoughts freely (for the most part) behind of veil of quasi-anonymity.  It’s one of the weird things about being an INFJ: we’re far more expressive in writing than we are speaking, and many of us would eschew talking to people on the phone, but have no aversion to texting someone all day.  I wish more people were like this, as I love to instant message and communicate by text, but I’m surprised (even in light of all the new ways we can communicate on the Internet) that so few people actually do this.  It’s one of the reasons why I struggle with dating:  so much of the communicating has to be done on the phone or in person, forcing me to interact in ways I’m not comfortable doing, especially when I’m with people I don’t know well.  I hem and haw and stutter and just can’t seem to find the words I want to say, but with instant messaging (IM) and email I fire on all cylinders.  Very few are willing to meet me halfway though, even on job interviews when I ask if we can communicate by IM/email/text as an accommodation I’m still forced to talk on the phone.  To actually type out words seems to be too much to ask of certain people.

Still, as time goes on I hope to find kindred souls who appreciate the power of the written word, as well as the effort I make to talk to them freely and comfortably, just as I do now with the people I care about the most.

Relaxing in New York: why Introverts can #LoveThisCity as well! #MC

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias / Social Fabric community, and have been compensated to share my experiences here with my audience by Collective Bias and their client, MasterCard.

You’d think in a city like New York there would be no place for an introvert like me to truly relax and enjoy the city’s vibes from a quiet perch, but this is one of the reasons why I love this city: there are nooks and crannies everywhere from which you can sneak away and unwind, even amidst all the hustle and bustle.  One of my favorite places in fact is a “secret” garden nestled amongst a series of buildings just off of South Street Seaport.  Of course, it’s not really THAT unknown (how secret can a garden be if it’s listed on Yelp anyway), BUT it IS relatively hidden enough that less than a handful of people are usually found walking the footpaths there.  It’s located up two flights of stairs, so once you reach the top you are afforded a priceless and memorable view of the East River as it feeds into the Hudson, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge and skyline.

I used the digital zoom on my iPhone to hone in on the ship sailing on the East River here, but as you can imagine the quality wasn't very good. So I used a water paint texture to give it a more artistic feel. #LoveThisCity #MC

That’s an actual photo by the way.  I was using a digital zoom via a camera app on my iPhone to get a closer shot of the ship passing by, but the resulting photo was (as you might have expected) pretty grainy and pixelated.  I used a water painting texture to make up for the loss of quality, and now what had previously become one of the poorest photos I’ve taken is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  WINNING!

In addition to the Brooklyn skyline, look further to the east you can see the famous Brooklyn Bridge, again all from the comfort of this quiet little garden.

Brooklyn Skyline

So what’s the name of this particular garden you ask?  Oh well, it’s called the pFfttdghfhTTss…

Ok, ok, I probably shouldn’t be too worried that everyone in creation will suddenly show up at the garden if I spill its name, but JUST to be safe, if you reaalllllly want to know, shoot me an email.  BUT, only if you promise to be quiet while you’re here.  Shhhhhhhhhhh!

A cute Fiat advertises a nearby restaurant in the Chelsea District. #LoveThisCity #MC

Once I was done taking photos here and hanging out downtown, I decided to make my way further up, partly to check out a hotel for a friend, and partly to settle in again at another favorite place of mine in the city: Madison Square Park.

I have to say, when it comes to autumn, leaf peeping isn’t my only favorite pastime; I also love “sky peeping” as well, especially when it comes to some of my favorite buildings in New York.  Most modern buildings don’t leave much to the imagination, but you won’t have to walk very far to be treated to architectural delights that continue to stand the test of time; buildings that hail from those days when builders were more artists than architects, such as the Flatiron Building.

I use my photo wizardry ninja skills to remove a lamp post obscuring part of the Flatiron building here (with clock). #LoveThisCity #MC

Madison Square Park is truly another hidden gem for the introvert, and despite serving as a central hub for tourists and shoppers alike, there are plenty of places to get comfortable for either sky peeping or people watching (or just reading on the iPad like I do, thanks to the free wifi here). In a way it’s kind of like a mini-version of Central Park that I find ideal, especially given its close proximity to Penn Station where I usually check in and out of the city.  Sometimes I visit the main city library further uptown when it’s open, and failing that I’d sometimes hit Borders at Madison Square Garden for good reads and tasty hot chocolates (before they closed it down that is. Boooooo.)

When I need a change of scenery or need to kill some time before I get back on the train home, I tend to lazily walk up and down 34th Street, taking in the bustling atmosphere with aplomb (and the shish kebabs from the food carts).

Black and white tones seem to bring out the Empire State Building here better than normal color tones could. #LoveThisCity #MC
Somehow sepia just seems to make the Empire State Building look better…

Not content to leave just yet though, I make one more stop for coffee (my third cup in case you’re counting), and settle in somewhere along 7th Avenue with my iPad:

Wrapping up an afternoon with err, even more coffee. That's why I #LoveThisCity , as you can get almost any kind of coffee anywhere, at any time. #LoveThisCity #MC

Cars, people, the rumblings of a subway moving underneath, and yet somehow… I’m still perfectly at ease, an introvert recharging in the midst of chaos.  Only in New York.

Enjoy the rest of my photos here (or view the Google+ Album)


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