Summary: Introverts do not think they are ready for ministry, but actually their personality is a resource for ministry, for they can enable God to empower them.

The way we live out our lives depends on the kind of personality we have. What we do, how we do it, the way we go about our daily tasks, the ways in which we relate to one another … all these things come out of the kind of personality we have.

You can argue, if you want, that cultural factors make you who you are, that you learned how to act because you grew up among southern African-American males or because you were taught what stern Yankee women did. And yes, I would agree, cultural factors do help shape us. But deeper than culture, beyond race or nationality, is the matter of personality. What kind of personality do you have?

Or you could argue, as some do, that we are responsible for ourselves, that nothing makes us do anything or be anything. Some would argue that we are totally responsible for every action, and that we just have to pull up our socks and decide to do what is right. Well, of course I believe in personal responsibility. Of course I believe we are capable of deciding our behavior. But it is also true that the very way in which we decide these things is determined by that thing I'm calling personality. What kind of personality you have determines even the way you go about making those decisions.

Personality. The way we live out our lives depends on the kind of personality we have.

So let me attempt, this morning, a very quick and dirty personality test. It won't be scientific and it won't be complete. If you have a psychology major among your credentials, you will hang your head in shame, because this won't stand up against scholarly scrutiny. But it's just a quick experiment, designed to demonstrate something about personality.

I'm going to pose a series of opposites, statements which represent opposite ways of responding to various kinds of situations. I want you to listen carefully to each of these pairs and then to raise your hands to indicate which of each pair best applies to you.

The first pair:

[1] If you are asked a question about how you feel concerning some issue, do you prefer to think about it a while first, then give your answer? Or do you find it easier to start talking about the question, looking for your answer in your own words?

[2] If you are in a group which is discussing what to do about some problem, do you generally wait for someone to ask you what you think, or do you like to get out in front with what you think?

[3] If you are asked to speak in public, do you need to prepare your remarks rather carefully, or can you speak your thoughts without depending on written preparation?

[4] When you are working, do you find that you need privacy to do the work? Or do you thrive on the hustle and bustle of people and telephones and activity?

[5] When someone suggests a course of action, are you more likely to think of reasons to go slowly and be careful, because it might not work; or are you more likely to say, "Let's just try it and see what happens?"

And the last question: when I ask you to do testimonies or put up your hands during a worship service, how many of you would rather I not do that and just go on and preach, and how many of you would not only like to put up your hands, but also to say a few hundred well-chosen words as well?! Don't even bother with that one!

Rather as I suspected, far more of you put up your hands for the first choice in each of these pairs than put it up for the second choice. Far more of you gave evidence of what we call an introverted personality than evidenced an extroverted personality. I am not surprised at this. Introverted more than extroverted. We as a church are overwhelmingly an introverted group of people; we naturally and instinctively turn inside when faced with any issue. Our very way of being is to turn in, look around, and be cautious.

I am not surprised. And I'll tell you why in a moment. But first, I want to nail this down. We've been looking all this month at the question of resources for the future of our church. We've been attempting to identify what God has given us in order to face the future.

Today I'm raising the question, is the personality of our church a resource for the future? We are, most of us, variations on a particular personality type. That personality type, essentially introverted, turned inward, may look like a liability. It may seem to be something which will hold back our church from being, as one member has openly hoped for, not just a good church, but a great church.

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