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?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.