“Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue” (Prov. 28:23).
A small group of ladies had taken me out to dinner after a special event at our church. It was meant to be a time of fellowship and fun. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, one of the ladies asked me, “Do you think that some of the ladies in the church may think of you as unapproachable?” With these words, the conversation at the table hushed. Everyone was waiting to see how I might respond.
In the split seconds before I answered, a number of thoughts crossed my mind: Is this whole thing a set-up for them to take shots at me? Is she the designated spokesperson for the group? Who does she think she is to ask me something like that in this kind of a setting? I had no idea where the question was coming from, but I prayed quickly that the Lord would give me the grace to answer appropriately and not defensively.
There was a bit of an awkward silence until I finally responded—after all, when your carnal self is getting exercised it takes a while to calm it down—“I guess that some of the ladies might feel that way.” And in the moments that followed, I learned that some of the ladies were feeling that I did not want to interact with them because I didn’t make myself available right after Sunday service. I had developed a habit of heading over to the parsonage near the close of the service in order to get a head-start on finishing up our Sunday afternoon meal.
I made a commitment to her and the other ladies that day that I would stick around after church and mingle more. As I have had time to muse over and pray about that interaction for a few weeks now, I’ve begun asking myself some hard questions, and coming up with some uncomfortable answers. Was getting dinner started early really that important? Was that really what was motivating me? I finally had to admit that leaving church early “to get dinner started” was a comfortable way to manage my fear of getting too close to people. It kept them at a comfortable distance and allowed me to engage at only a surface level.
My introvert nature was triumphing over the higher call to community and oneness in the Body. And a precious sister in Christ was kind and gracious enough to challenge me on it and call it out.
Are there ways in which your “personality” or “wiring” are excuses for not engaging with the Body of Christ in meaningful ways? How do you handle a personality style that is in clear conflict with your new nature in Christ?