For Adults

An Introvert in an Extrovert’s World

By Cristina Price

Is it possible to be an introvert but still be an effective witness? In today’s in-your-face culture, it can be hard for an introvert to find her place. 

At the beginning of my career as a missionary in France, I battled the stereotype of the extroverted missionary. I felt a lot of pressure, mostly from myself, to try to be something I was not, to fit a preconceived idea of the “ideal” missionary. This was, of course, someone who never met a stranger, who could talk to anyone about anything, who easily shared the gospel within five minutes of making an acquaintance. This was definitely not me. I struggled to make conversation with new people, felt more comfortable in my own home than out on the town, happy to take care of my own little family, read books, sip tea, and nest. Unfortunately, this isn’t very conducive to making new acquaintances and sharing the gospel! What was an introvert to do?

Enter Judy Bryan, longtime missionary to Côte d’Ivoire and later to the field of France. Like me, Judy felt more comfortable in small groups of people, in her own home, cup of coffee in hand. Watching her, I realized that, though she was married to an extrovert who never met a stranger, Judy also had a vital ministry. Judy was a great cook and had a knack for making people feel at ease. She exuded hospitality. The multitudes of people that Robert met were invited to her home, where her gifts shone the brightest.

This is an important ability in France, where the tradition of inviting others over for a meal to get to know one another better is still firmly anchored in the culture. In the USA, the tendency is to invite someone out to a restaurant, but in France, it is common to invite people into your home. As I learned from Judy’s example, I could put my introvert skills to work by making my own home a place of welcome and warmth for our guests. My husband, Matt, is much more extroverted than I am, and so it works out well for him to meet the strangers, invite them to our home, and together, we try to make them feel welcome. Around our dining table, we have been able to share the gospel, train baby Christians, counsel struggling marriages, encourage the discouraged, and share the battles of our fellow believers. 

To be honest, I don’t love cooking. I do it because we have to eat to survive! There are many other things I would rather spend my time and money on. What I do love, however, is seeing the satisfaction on the faces of my family and friends when they enjoy what I’ve prepared for them. Judy Bryan was a pro at this, and I am so grateful for her inspiring example. I am thankful, too, that God knew what He was doing when He called me to be an introverted missionary in a culture where my personality and gifting can be used for His Kingdom.

What lessons have I learned in 17 years of introverted ministry in France?

  1. French people love American food. A long time ago, I stopped trying to imitate French-style cooking and just cooked what I knew. And it works! Prepare the meals you know well and are comfortable making. Your guests will love it!
  2. Accept the fact that God made you a certain way and that He can use you for His glory BECAUSE of those gifts, not in spite of them. God did not make a mistake when He made me an introvert and brought me to France. He knew that I could serve Him well within my own gifting. This doesn’t mean that He won’t sometimes call us outside of our comfort zones! But this is usually an exception and not the norm. 
  3. Look at the culture around you and ask yourself in what ways you can use your talents to minister to those in your circle of influence. If you’re an introvert like me, maybe this means inviting people to your home for a meal, starting a small book club where you can read good books together, joining or creating a knitting circle, starting a playgroup for moms with young children, becoming a mentor for a younger woman, or asking a more mature woman to be your mentor. 
  4. Ask the Lord to bless your efforts and to show you ways in which you can build His kingdom through your talents. He is the one who blessed you with your unique gifts, and He knows best how you should use them!

Being an introvert in an extrovert’s world can sometimes be daunting. Don’t forget that God made you exactly how He wanted you, and He makes no mistakes. Look up, look around, walk through those open doors, and let God’s light shine through you in your own unique way. You will never feel more fulfilled than when you are serving God using the gifts He gave you. 

About the Author: Cristina Price has worked for FWB International Missions in France since 2005. She and her husband of 25 years, Matt Price, have twin 13-year-old daughters, Madeleine and Emilie. Cristina loves reading, traveling, chatting with friends over tea, and homeschooling her daughters.  
For Adults

Busy, Busy, Busy

by Diana Bryant

If you talked to a dozen women today, no matter their age or occupation, I can guarantee one word would come up in every conversation – BUSY. Young mothers, career women, retired grandmothers, church volunteers, and even young teens who go to school, play sports, and take dance lessons give the same answer. “Busy!” is the common reply to the question, “How are you?”

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children many things. From the mundane – how to brush their teeth – to the eternally significant – how to recognize right and wrong. We discover early on that some things are taught by instruction and some things are caught by daily observing our lives in the privacy of our own homes and in public before others.

“Busy” is not in itself a bad thing. Persistent idleness is not good stewardship of our time, resources, or abilities. But neither is the “busyness” that saps our joy, skews our priorities, and causes us to place more emphasis on the superficial than the significant.
What are your children learning from your mastery – or slavery – to your schedule?

Consider these opposing messages:

  1. We teach our children the importance of learning God’s Word, of reading their Bibles. Do they see you modeling that? If our busy day keeps us from God’s Word, regardless of what parents and Sunday School teachers have said, we are teaching, “It’s not that important, there are other things that really need to be done.” Priorities are caught, and when they don’t match our spoken words, children will notice and draw their own conclusions.
  2. We work hard to make our daughters understand that their value comes from who they ARE, a child of God, not what they can DO. When we have a relentless schedule, involve ourselves with too many commitments, and use an inordinate amount of our energy to make every event we are involved in as perfect as we can get it, we are really teaching our daughters that our successes and accomplishments define our self worth. If we are constantly talking about how busy we are, wearing that phrase as a badge of honor, it speaks loudly to girls who desperately want to be valuable in this world.
  3. Are we using our busy schedules to avoid something else? Are there issues in our relationships that need to be dealt with? Perhaps making sure every minute is filled with some kind of activity gives us the excuse we need to sweep those concerns under the rug? Busyness can become addictive, but real connections with our families and friends cannot thrive without the time and attention they need. “You can always talk to me!” won’t ring true with our daughters if they can’t find a time that we are available and not distracted by activity.

These words are easy, but dealing with this issue in real life is not. Being needed, appreciated, and admired feels good. The lure of being sought after feeds our self-esteem. But seeking God’s direction for our schedules is more reliable than doing things just because we want to – or feel like we have to. Our relationship with God cannot be nurtured by busyness – even if we are busy with good things.

Think about these things as you consider your priorities in scheduling and modeling time management for your daughters and other young women in your life:

  • Remember that there are seasons in life. There may be a particular activity or cause you really want to be involved in, but waiting until a different season in your life may be better for everyone. Important causes will still be there long after your window of everyday influence in your daughter’s life closes.
  • Understand the difference between a good work ethic and being a workaholic. One glorifies God, the other glorifies ourselves.
  • If you are feeling burdened, harried, frustrated, and exhausted by your schedule, honestly ask God if you are following His leading or your own. This requires honesty on our part, but God has promised wisdom when we ask. Take Him up on that promise!

Check out our companion blog post for girls: So Much to Do, So Little Time

For Adults

6 Steps to Triumph Over Stress

by Elizabeth Hodges

Stress is a familiar part of life for all of us. We may express stress in different ways, but we are all know the familiar tense reaction to the tough or busy parts of our days and weeks. When you feel that stress pressing in on you, do you deal with the root of your stress or just the symptoms? Do you try to alleviate stress at its cause, or just delay dealing with it?

One of the tools Satan uses to keep us defeated is STRESS. So how do we overcome stress? As believers, we are meant to depend on God—His Word and His strength. We must be able to admit that we are weak, vulnerable, and not self sufficient in order to accept God’s help with our stress.

1. Sit at Jesus’ feet — Study the Word

Pastor and author Chuck Swindoll once described an anecdote about his friend, Bob. One day, Chuck went to visit Bob at Bob’s office. As Chuck approached the office, he heard the melody, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” When Chuck looked in the office window, what he saw made an indelible impression on the young Chuck. Bob was on his knees, in his office, with his open Bible. Seeing Bob, Chuck felt as if he was standing on “holy ground.” Bob never knew he was being observed, but what an impact he had on the young Chuck Swindoll—who in turn has had such an impact on the Christian community.

Susanna Wesley, mother of 17, would throw her apron over her head when she needed time with her Lord. I’m sure we have all felt moments like that! Her children knew not to disturb her at those moments she spent with God. Wonder what impact that made on John and Charles? Just read the lyrics of the many hymns penned by these brothers.

In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus contrasts the choices of Mary and Martha. Do you ever find yourself “cumbered about”—juggling way too many balls at one time? A friend once shared with me, “If I must be a Martha, please give me a Mary heart.”

Being busy seems to be my lot in life, like Martha. But I want to know when to be quiet. To kneel in solitude, throw an apron over my head, or simply sit, like Mary, at my Savior’s feet.

2. Trust in the Lord

Have you seen the saying, Sometimes the Lord calms the storm; sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child?

We will have stress in our lives because we live on this earth. There’s no way around it! The good news is, we know the ONE who is in control (John 16:33). How often do we come boldly to the throne of God with our problems and petitions, only to pick them right back up when we walk away? Yet we know God clothes the lilies of the field, feeds the birds, and has our hairs numbered….will He not be concerned about the things that trouble us? Are we not more valuable than the flowers or birds? (Matthew 6:25-34)

Paul challenges us in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. How much of our “thinking time” is invested in these categories, and how much is devoted to worry?

3. Rest

REST: Sleep is a gift from God. How often do we thank Him for this everyday, yet priceless, gift? Sleep does for our bodies what nothing else can do. When we are sick or have surgery, we sleep to heal! But when you are in distress, troubled, stressed, do you find yourself spending more hours fretting than sleeping? Do you let stress keep you awake at night? Lying in bed only to roll and tumble with your mind going 90-to-nothing? Amy Carmichael said, “In acceptance lieth peace.” This may be easy to say… but oh so hard to practice in our daily lives!

Jesus drew away from others to spend time with HIS Father as HE ministered here on earth. If even He, being God, needed to be refreshed, how much more do we need rest and refreshment? We must rest knowing God is in control and does all things well. Deuteronomy 33:27 tells us no matter how heavy the load, there is always room UNDERNEATH for the everlasting arms of God.

4. Encourage others

Philemon 7 tells us that Philemon ministered to Paul, and Paul has in turn ministered to us through his pen. Who could say that you refreshed their heart and spirit?

Share what God is teaching you with others. They may be in desperate need of what you have learned or are learning. Do you have an accountability friend who will love you regardless of anything you may bring into discussion? A close friend who can see more clearly than you when you are IN the forest, a friend who will guard your confidences? Thank God for such a friend, then express your gratefulness to that person. Are you such a friend to others?

Romans 16:1-2 tell us briefly of Phoebe. She was a sister, a servant, and a succourer, or a great help. Who can you serve and minister to?

Take a moment to reflect: Do I encourage others in tangible ways in their love language?

5. Strengthen the “inner woman”

REFOCUS: Step back from your normal routine and refocus your priorities. Are you spending time and effort on things that ultimately do not matter? Or are you spending time on things that will strengthen you, build up your family, or encourage others?

RECREATE: What brings you relief, enjoyment, and pleasure? How many hours of your time are devoted to this pursuit? Make some of these activities, including relaxation, a priority.

Balance is key. Work hard when it is time to work and then enjoy your relaxation and recreation time. It’s easy to feel guilty when there is more to be done. But we will never get it all done! So we must do our BEST, then TRUST God with the rest.

6. Serve others

When you are serving others, you cannot be self-centered. Selfishness and service do NOT occupy the same “heart space.” If we model Jesus’ servant heart, we will develop a sensitive spirit. We will listen… not always talk. We will be available when needed. When we are “others-focused,” our own problems do not seem quite so overwhelming. Isaiah 40:31 is God’s promise to us.

Triumph over stress in this fast-paced world where we live and serve is found in a quiet heart. We must pursue and develop a quiet heart that is stayed on/focused on God. This heart must then be housed in a vessel fit for the Master’s use. May God help each of us as we develop such a heart.

Sit at Jesus’ feet — Study the Word
Trust in the Lord
Encourage others
Strengthen the “inner man/woman”
Serve others

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