Confessions of a Pentecostal Introvert

The impetus of this blog is the cross-roads of two facts:

Fact #1: I am Pentecostal. Fire-baptized, spirit-filled, full blown Pentecostal.

Fact #2: I am an introvert. Painfully so.

I tell people that I am an introvert and they look at me like I have four heads. You’re a pastor/trainer/teacher/musician who sings, preaches, and teaches publicly, they say. How on earth can you be such a painful introvert?

My answer? I wear a mask. It’s the greatest acting job in history. I should get an Academy Award and make some banal speech about some passion of mine that few people care about.

Whether one is introverted or extroverted is not the same as being shy or outgoing. It has everything to with how our brains recharge. Quoting the website fastcompany.com :

  • Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
  • Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.

Again, I am a painful introvert. I need alone time, and if I spend too much time in a crowd of people I get very tired and irritable very quickly. There will come a point where I am jumping out of my skin trying to find the nearest exit.

Of course, what I just described to you is stretched to the limit at large, conference-style Pentecostal church services like one I attended recently. Tremendous worship. Great move of God. The spirit and anointing was flowing. Saw some folks I know. Preacher was an old friend of mine from my New York City area days.

As the service went on, I felt the tiredness coming on. I began to sit more than stand, was a little less vocal in my worship. At around the three-hour mark (just before altar call), I bailed. Didn’t go to the altar, didn’t pray with anyone, didn’t pray for anyone, wasn’t prayed for.

In the past, I used to be chastised by elders for “quenching the Spirit” or “disconnecting from the presence of God.” It used to grieve me that I didn’t seem as “with it” as others. I began to question my spirituality and even my salvation.

What on earth is wrong with me?

Finally, in my forties, I’ve answered my own question—the answer is “nothing.”

Nothing at all is wrong with me. I’m not a reprobate. I’m not disconnected or quenching anything. I am simply the way that God made me—and He is perfect in all His ways.

I can be aloof or appear disinterested. However, those who take the time to get to know me will know that my experiences with God run deep—I love the Apostolic message and I love living life on the Way of Holiness.

I’m not the guy that will run the aisles or shout and dance over it. Usually. 😉

I’ve done some of (maybe most of) my best preaching/teaching sitting in my living room in my favorite blue jeans, sweatshirt, comfy socks, a cup of coffee, and an open Bible. I thrive in pouring out my heart in smaller groups, more so than behind a pulpit on a platform.

If choirs and Hammond organs are your thing, God bless you. Have a cup of coffee with me and let me tell you about the moves of God that have occurred in our living room as I was simply strumming my guitar and singing a simple song.

I’ve sat in some Pentecostal church services and watched the service leader doing his best to elicit a physical reaction from the congregation. I’ve even been berated by some of my elders for not “praising the Lord” because my hands didn’t happen to be raised at that particular moment. Let’s grab lunch somewhere and let me tell you about the times that we felt the power of God fall simply by surrendering ourselves to Him and letting Him have His way.

No, my brother, there isn’t a thing wrong with me. I have the same Spirit you do, and He ministers to me as powerfully and profoundly as He does to you.

If you see me at a conference service and watch me retreat when the throngs are moving towards the altar, please don’t judge based on what you see. If you love me and accept me for who my creator intended me to be, then please trust that God is working in places you cannot see.

I love this doctrine. I have His spirit. I believe in one Lord, one faith, one baptism (in Jesus’ name). I worship one God.

And yes, I’m an introvert.

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