I’m not exactly a people person by default. I’m one of those souls who wants friendship and likes some humanity close by, but prefers “his people”. Small inner circle, then acquaintances and colleagues, then everyone else (allowing for some shades of gray). Strangers? Yikes.
BUT…I’ve also asked myself more than once, “How is a personality like this supposed to spread the Gospel with any serious effectiveness?”
We introverts make the worst evangelists. At least it feels that way. There’s gray area in which God can use anyone, but still. Go talk to that person about Jesus, the pastor says? Part of me doesn’t even want to talk to most of my friends 60% of the time, preferring disappearing and resurfacing five years later in a foreign country with a new name. Or, I dunno, getting shot.
Wait, that’s not right. I love my friends. I fight to keep them in my life. I just don’t know what to say on most given days. And the hamsters in my head are running their wheels too fast on some new issue, so I’ve got to get that out of the way and gosh I hope my friends don’t read this blog post and decide to stop calling. Or shoot me.
What’s going on in this head of mine anyway? Someone get me Mountain Dew so I can think clearly.
Anyway…over the years, I’ve come to know a handful of rabid extroverts who claim to have once been bashful beyond all salvaging. I heard another such testimony this last weekend: a garrulous social animal who now regards a moment not spent sharing the gospel with a random stranger as a moment wasted, but was once quite shy socially.
It is a difficult transformation to envision ever happening to me. People can be intimidating. How does the saying go – “Life would be easier if it wasn’t for people?”
Yet I have a hard time imagining how I’ll ever be an effective evangelist in my hometown if I don’t talk to people. If I don’t learn their stories. If I don’t discover their needs. If I don’t stop judging them. If I don’t loosen my grip on my personal time and start really sharing myself with others.
Yeah, it can be work. A sacrifice. God’s command still stands. It’s not as if “introvert” is an excuse to avoid the Great Commission. My personality doesn’t belong to me.
So I’ve started praying a prayer:
“Jesus, give me your heart for people.”
It’s a prayer that brings with it a feeling typically associated with this:
Because it can really be costly, getting into people’s lives. You probably know what I mean. You don’t know what darkness you’ll find. You don’t know how they’ll react, how much they’ll demand once you offer yourself.
Suddenly, it occurred to me: I’m not alone in this. God is with me. His Spirit is what gives me strength to do what he’s calling me to do. Along with his commands comes the power to obey, always.
Besides…I’m no better. I am darkness. And Jesus came for me, offered his blood, offered his companionship. He didn’t distance himself when I was toxic and draining. He rescued me. And he’s called me to be like him.
So I ask Jesus for his heart for people. Because he’s got a big one. The gospels put that on full display.
And ever so slowly, he’s pouring that heart into me.
I find now that the corners of my mouth draw upwards more often in coffeeshops, defying the natural gravity of my personality. I judge people way less. Appreciation for humanity is – how is this even possible? how did this happen? – a bigger part of my personality.
Jesus can certainly do some work.
When it comes down to brass tacks, I’d rather review each day and see that God used me to improve someone else’s life than keep myself hunched over my own little projects. That’s more meaningful.
Jesus, give me your heart for people.