Monday, July 06, 2009

You are who you are, not who you're not

I think I've shared this before on this blog, but these are notes I wrote down about 2 1/2 years ago. I was reading through some old stuff today and came across this.


12/30/06 God doesn’t ask me to be “on fire” for Him. God doesn’t ask me to be “radical” for Him. Rather, before I was born again He told me I must die, and then He could come and raise me up to a brand new life and join His life with mine. So the life I now live is not a matter of me being radical or on fire for Him, but rather His radical life expressing itself through me – in whichever way He wills. The life I live in this earthsuit I live by faith. I most certainly don’t live by my own might or power or by my own attempts to live a powerful or radical life, or even a sincere, dedicated life. That sounds “unChristian,” I know! But as I let go of my own attempts at living any part of the Christian life, another Life takes over, with more power and dedication than I could ever come up with.

The gift of God that is in us, which Paul reminds Timothy to “fan into flame” (2 Tim 1:6), isn’t necessarily going to have an outward appearance that’s radical or sensational or impressive to other people, even to other Christians. Understand, I’m writing from the perspective of an introverted person who has tried in the past to live the extroverted, radical, effervescent Christian life, trying to prove to others that I’m “on fire” for God. I had faith – deep faith – and looking back, I can now see that my true faith was expressed in ways that weren’t always noticeable by others. But since I had come into a church culture that seemed to take greater notice of those with more visible and expressive demonstrations of faith, I prayed and tried very hard to have the same passion as others and for the Spirit to manifest Himself in me with the same sort of outward demonstration. Again, I now see that I really did have a deep faith, but at the time I didn’t think that was true. I wondered when the time would ever come that my faith would grow and I could truly be more expressive with my faith. When would I ever truly be “on fire” for God?

Thank God that I finally came to an understanding of who I really was. Or better said, I came to a better understanding of who Christ is in me.

The way that the life of God will be expressed in each of us individually will be different.
You can’t be what you’re not. Be who you are!


  1. Joel, this is absolutely marvelous and I can totally relate. On Darin's forum, a number of us are reading and discussing a book called Introvert Power.

    As an introvert, I'm finding out how to live freely in an extrovert world. This is how I'm wired and I'm learning that it's okay to be me.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    (I posted this response on your Facebook but I wanted to also add it here for your readers who aren't on Facebook.)

  2. Aida... as I said on Facebook, I think this type of thing really resonates with so many people and it's probably a lot more common than we'd like to think. I'm personally learning - and it's a long process - to love the way God has wired me, and to know that I simply am who I am and it's ALL good! Instead of trying to be something else, and instead of trying to plug myself in to what others are doing that don't fit me, I'm being more and more of who I already truly am, and it's very freeing.

    Sometimes I can be extroverted, but it's no longer an attempt to try and get attention or to fit in with other extroverts (or other people faking extroversion)! It's simply my heart expressing itself much more naturally.

  3. Hey Joel and others - Just a quick note to let you know that I have written a book about this topic, that will be released by InterVarsity Press in October. It's called Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. It's not on Amazon yet, but you can find its IVP page here:

    I also have a website devoted to the topic:

    Thanks for advocating for the introverted cause!

    Adam McHugh

  4. Adam,

    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the links - I'm going to pass them along to others, as this same post has turned into a good conversation on my Facebook page. It's quite amazing that this stuff isn't talked about more in the church! I think it's because it's the extroverts who do all the talking. ;)

  5. Excellent post. I have spent my whole Christian life (34 years) feeling like a square peg in a round hole. Often made to feel guilty by well meaning Christians for not being out there do the stuff. I am finally coming to the realization that God made me this way and he doesn't make mistakes. Thanks for this post.

  6. Adam, sounds interesting. I'll try to check out your website when I get a chance.

    Here's the link to the discussion on Darin's forum in case anyone's interested in checking it out.

  7. Berni,

    Thanks so much for sharing! I can fully relate to what you're saying. A square peg in a round hole... wow... that's a very good description of what I and so many others have felt! Thank God that He has helped us to see that He's thrilled with us just the way we are!

  8. Amen brother, I am an introvert too. Realizing that Jesus uses us quiet people too, we are all part of the body of Christ. Thank you for the encouragement.

  9. Anonymous... Thank you for stopping by. Indeed, each of us is a part of the body of Christ, and God is at work in each and every part of His body!