How to teach a young introvert

Leaders of all kinds, listen up. Worship leaders, especially, note the remarks about apparent participation versus engagement. Worth considering. And it triggers a bit of a rant today.

One of my least favorite phrases to encourage participation in a worship experience is, “C’mon, Church! Do this, or Say that.”

Sometimes it helps to be reminded to focus on the moment at hand. Social environments contain a lot of distracting stimulus. I get it. And, regrettably, I’ve done it. Maybe it’s just that I’ve seen too many TV Westerns, you know, the stage coach driver slapping the lines up and down, urging the straining horses to pull harder, go further, run faster?

It’s the rare bride who must be driven toward her awe-struck lover. On the other hand, a few, I suppose, are overcome with sudden shyness and must be drug down the aisle…

As leaders in the activity of gathered worship, we
wrestle with the tension between permission–both through spoken invitation and modeling, and coercion–through shaming or over-the-top insistence. As we try to find our way, let’s be sure we are honoring all the ways God designed the humanity we serve, both introvert and extrovert.

And if you’ve felt driven to work harder at worship, as if it’s a skill to be perfected, give yourself a break. The notice of God–both random and intentional, the acknowledgement of his handiwork in a smile, the breathless wonder at the gleaming face of Mt. Adams, or recognizing his expansive, transforming grace–it’s all worship. Do THAT. In whatever introverted or extroverted way is yours. Wherever he takes you beyond that is between the two of you.

That is all.

See all articles in the series

What should we do with the quiet kids? A conversation with Susan Cain on the future of classroom education.

Susan Cain sticks up for the introverts of the world. In the U.S., where one third to one half the population identifies as introverts, that means sticking up for a lot of people. Some of them might be data engineers overwhelmed by the noise of an open-floor-plan office. Others might be lawyers turning 30, whose friends shame them for not wanting a big birthday bash. But Cain particularly feels for one group of introverts: the quiet kids in a classroom.

Cain remembers a childhood full of moments when she was urged by teachers and peers to be more outgoing and social — when that simply wasn’t in her nature. Our most important institutions, like schools and workplaces, are designed for extroverts, says Cain in her TED Talk. [Watch: The power of…

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