Do I Have To Be Outgoing To Live Outwardly?

Many times when you read a book on evangelism it is written from the perspective of someone who is naturally good with people. It is written from the perspective of someone who easily engages with strangers. It is written from the perspective of those who are extroverts.

And so no matter how much biblical teaching, application, practical advice and encouragement the author gives, there is still the element of personality.

One book that my wife and I recently read on evangelism dealt with having people over to your home to study the Gospel of John. The author talked about creating a small group environment where someone who does not know Jesus can come learn about him in a safe and comfortable way. The examples the author shared were exciting to read as people began to study about Jesus for the first time. People began to ask great questions and explore the reality that he offers eternal life.

But the piece the author left out that every introvert was asking was: How did you ask these people over and where did you even find these people? And even if I do find and am able to invite, how do I lead such a discussion? The author’s natural bent moved easily in finding non-believers, inviting non-believers and faciliating a discussion with non-believers.

But what if that is not your bent? Do you just leave this to other people more gifted in this area?

If I am going to live an outward life, how do I do it if I am not naturally outgoing? How do I do it if I am an introvert?

These are great questions to ask because too often the area of evangelism has been seen as the work of someone who is a natural people-person and if you are not, you are lefting wondering where you fit in when it comes to the Great Commission.

Well, first of all let me say that both my wife and I are introverts. We are not shy or quiet or reserved but building relationships comes at a slower pace for us. We don’t naturally gather people around us like some people do.  We have neighbors who always have people hanging out in their front yard. That couple mostly likely doesn’t work at having people over, it just comes naturally. For my wife and I, it requires more work.

And so when extroverts talk about simply inviting people over and hosting them in your home, it isn’t second nature for us. It takes time and energy. We have to be very intentional in these areas.

And yet we both recognize that the mission of Christ sends us outward. So how does the introvert enter into this mission without getting discouraged?

Living out the heart of the Father isn’t reserved to a certain personality type but rather it is the the call of everyone who is a follower of Jesus. And the qualifications needed for this call are not based on us.

When Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8 that they would be His witnesses, that calling went out to disciples that were most likely both outgoing and reserved, extroverted and introverted. No matter their personality bent, they were going to be able to be who Jesus was calling them to be and accomplish what Jesus was calling them to accomplish because their ability would not be rooted in them but in someone else.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Being witnesses is not something we have to try to become in our own strength and gifting but rather it is something that we are because the Holy Spirit enables us to do it. Through the empowering of the Holy Spirit  and our yielding to the Holy Spirit, we will be witnesses.

But doesn’t being a witness require some level of having an outgoing personality? No, it requires an understanding of who we are called to be and what God empowers us to do.

The outward life begins by viewing my life through the lens that God has a heart to see people place their hope in him and he wants to use me in accomplishing this. It means that my prayer life is shaped by this commission: “God, show me how I can be used by you to see people know you.” It means I am asking God to bring people into my life. It means that I am looking for opportunities even if these new relationships scare me.

Living outwardly does not necessarily mean I am outgoing but that I have set my heart outward. I have found that the biggest thing to living outwardly isn’t necessarily that I am social but that I am seeking the things of God when it comes to the Great Commission. I am asking God to give me a heart for the lost. I am asking God to give me a heart for my neighbors and co-workers. God knows my personality. He gave it to me. He is more interested in my heart and obedience then the skills and gifts I bring. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that I am a witness. And when I seek to be a witness, I believe God gives me opportunities to be a witness.

If you struggle with the outgoing aspect of evangelism, would you at least commit yourself to developing a heart for others? Because that is a heart that God will use as he leads your life outward.

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