Hi pastor, I am struggling with the way I am at times. I’m suppose to be a leader and reach out to people and check up on them but it’s hard. I’m not the type to text often because I’m more of a person who speaks to others in person. But even if I were to meet someone in person, for some reason I have never said “how are you” to my brothers/sisters at church. I guess I struggle with reaching out to people. It’s not that I don’t care for them but I don’t know how to do exactly that. What to do..?
My dear friend, please allow me to be both tender and tough on this one.
There are some things that are certainly “struggles” in our lives. When we feel anxiety around other people or large crowds, this is a legitimate issue that might be a lifelong problem. I’ve had stage fright since sixth grade, and to this day I still have a hard time talking in public without getting feverish and shaky. I’m mostly an introvert too, so I would almost always rather be at home in my boxers watching reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway than chatting it up in the church lobby.
BUT — Saying the word “struggle” in our Christian culture often gets abused to mean “permission slip.” At some point, the struggle must become a battle. At some point, the little scared insecure kid inside us needs to sit down and take a backseat, and the grown-up needs to get up and do something. The scared kid inside doesn’t ever completely go away: but neither can he ever dictate the course of your life.
I promise I’m not trying to guilt-trip you here. I’m just saying: Please do not use your shyness as an excuse to cover your laziness. Most introverts just don’t want to put on pants. They would rather watch a rom-com or TV series or a sports game than actually live a dirty, sweaty, gritty life. That’s just laziness. It’s not cute, it’s not attractive, and it’s not real shyness.
Getting to know another human being is hard work. And that’s also true for extroverts. Most people just don’t make an effort to approach people: and you’ll need to fight the natural inclination to hide in your shell every single day. It’s a daily battle.
It’s still tough for me to call people and just say hello. I sometimes stare at a phone for as long as an hour before calling a fellow church friend and just talking. Really. I know, it’s tough. But I do it anyway. And it’s gotten just slightly easier. But I’m always glad I did when I follow through.
So maybe you’re really bad at socializing, but that’s the very exact reason we would want to go socialize. To get better at it. It doesn’t have to be with fifty people at a time. Start with one. Take a special interest in just a few people. Asking “How are you” is as easy as asking, “How are you.” Then listen. Some of those church folk around you are just waiting to hear that question from someone.
If I’ve been harsh, it’s just because I love you and God wants way more for you than to believe the excuses. You’ve probably believed some lies about yourself over a lifetime, like I’ll never be good at this or I’m just not a people-person, but that’s all crap. Let’s throw that script out the window and just get into the mess. It’s scary, but it’s awesome. We’re made to be with people. Go be with them. Get hurt, scrape your knees, climb trees, get ice cream, and talk until four in the morning. You’ll be glad you did.