Extraverts and introverts…

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Psalm 39: 1 I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.”

Extraversion and introversion are terms created by C.G. Jung to explain different attitudes people use to direct their energy. According to the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” website:

Extraversion (E)

I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
  • I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
  • I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
  • I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over.
  • Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.

Introversion (I)

I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.
The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
  • I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.

Which of these two more closely describes you?

We all have the capacity for both introversion and extraversion, but generally have one that is dominant. As I read the passage from Psalm 39, which is attributed to King David, I get the impression he was an extravert – prone to say out loud what he was thinking.

I, too, am an extravert. Sometimes I think, as an extravert, I need to be in recovery.

Me: “Hi, my name is Ernie and I am an extravert.”

Group: “Hi Ernie.”

Why recovery? Because like many extraverts, I tend to say more than I should. Which gets me in trouble. Hence, these verses resonate with me:

I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.”

The psalmist clearly understands that his words will be used against him by those who mean to do him harm, so he needs to zip it. But that’s easier said than done for an extravert. Today’s passage reminds me that I need to use discretion in what I say and to whom I say it.

But what about you introverts – people who think by… thinking? Your struggle is often a bit different. There are times when it’s a good thing to bring your thoughts/feelings into the external world, but it’s not your nature to do so. As a result you may miss opportunities to share important ideas or feelings with others. By the time you’ve adequately formulated the words to say, the moment to say them has long passed, which can be frustrating. You can come off as aloof rather than thoughtful.

Lord God, you created both introverts and extraverts. Give each of us grace to bring both dimensions to life when appropriate. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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