I am an introvert.
Nowadays that doesn’t have to sound like the opening statement at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It’s generally recognised that not only is it OK to be an introvert, but that they also have much to offer that compliments the more obvious characteristics of the extrovert life.
Enough books and articles have been written for most of us to have picked up that introversion is not a mental illness, not shyness gone mad and certainly not a sign of an anti-social person. It is, as my exposure to the Myers-Briggs Type indicator many years ago made me realise, more about how we are energised. The ‘innie’ is energised by the internal world of ideas, impressions and emotions; they are focussed inside their heads. They need a quiet reflective space where they can think things through and recharge themselves. Most studies seem to suggest that extroverts out number introverts 2:1, so it’s hardly surprising that until fairly recently extroversion has been prized as the way to get on and be sociable and successful…I read somewhere that most of the speculative bankers responsible for the recent crash were unrestrained extroverts, which may or may not be true but certainly made me think (and wonder where the restraining partnership of the introvert was in that scenario!)
Needless to say, our innie and outie temperament affects every part of our lives…our spirituality, the way we live out our relationship with God and others is no exception, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading around all this recently, to give me more understanding of myself, to help me see how I need to work in partnership with the extroverts around me and to be able to offer some help to those who struggle to know what contribution they can make, in leadership, in sharing ideas and in getting on in an extrovert culture (probably more true in the USA than in the reserved UK, which probably explains why so many books, and especially books on spirituality and introverts come from that culture).
So, here are a few of the books I’ve read (and am still digesting and re-reading) if you’re interested:
“Quiet” by Susan Cain – rapidly becoming a classic…mention introversion and someone is bound to ask, “Have you read…”. Pretty good summary of the science involved.
“The Introvert Advantage” by Marti Olsen Laney – nice bite-sized chapters and a great general overview.
“Quiet Faith-an introvert’s guide to spiritual survival” by Judson Edwards
“Introverts in the Church” by Adam McHugh
Both these books are written out of American church culture, which has been an incredibly extrovert culture for a long time (and has been thoughtlessly absorbed by parts of the UK church)…things seem to be changing. Addressing the differences between baseline US and UK church life is one of the reasons the author of my final suggestion wrote his book…
“The Introvert Charismatic-The Gift of Introversion in a Noisy Church” by Mark Tanner.
As I would consider myself to fall into that dual category I found this book helpful (if perhaps a bit ‘samey’ and repetitive…but then I have immersed myself in a lot of books and articles of this stuff…). I saw this book on Roy Searle’s (Northumbria Community) desk during a recent visit and he recommended it as a read (I didn’t realise he has a bit in the book!).
He also asked, “Have you read “Quiet” by Susan Cain?
Well, have you?