In the last year or so, I have noticed how much I value alone time. Nothing recharges me more than sitting in a quiet room and spending some time by myself. I’m what they call an introvert.
Introversion and extroversion seem to be big topics in conversation today. College students especially are always aware of how introverted or extroverted they are, and how that should affect their habits and routine.
This is a big question for Christians because we have a faith that spreads through relationships, which either give or take energy (depending on how you’re designed). Is there room in the Christian faith for spending time in solitude or with a small, comfortable group of friends?
To explore this question, let’s first clarify the word “introverted”. An introverted person, as you may already know, finds their energy from time in solace and solitude, alone. Large groups of people for long periods of time are draining for them, and they need alone time in order to recharge.
Jesus and his habits of getting energy and using that energy can teach us a lot about this, and we can then see how our habits of energy can fit into God’s Kingdom.
First, Jesus (as always)
Jesus was pretty introverted. He would often go off on his own, or with two or three friends, and pray and spend time gaining energy. In Luke 5, the news about Jesus had spread throughout Galilee and Judea, and crowds gathered around him to hear him speak and be healed by him. Here’s what the text says:
“But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” (v 15-16).
This is all over the place in the gospels. In Mark 3, Jesus tries to go off in solitude and pray, but a crowd keeps following him. In fact, they end up running him off of the land (accidentally). Check it out:
“When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him” (v 8-9).
And we all know the story of Jesus’s last day, when, in the Garden of Gethsemane, all he wanted to do was be alone and pray to the Father.
Examples like these show that alone time, solitude, and introspection are not only acceptable in the Christian faith, but incredibly Christ-like. So an introvert can be used by God in really awesome ways! So if you’re they type of person that, like me, really needs quiet time alone in order to get through the day, don’t worry. God loves you, and he designed you like that.
Notice, though, that Jesus always goes alone to pray. He never goes alone to just hang out or to watch Netflix, or to spend a chill night at home. He always goes to pray. Every single time. Sometimes he also gathers a few disciples together to talk. What we can learn from this is that true energy comes from God, not isolation.
So if you’re calling yourself an introvert in order to justify hours of Netflix binging, or remaining in your comfort zone, or never making disciples, or never reaching out to new people: the poor, the sick, the lame, then you’re not quite gaining energy the way we were meant to.
Have you ever watched Netflix for two hours and felt exhausted after? It’s because stuff like that doesn’t give you energy. A night in doesn’t always give you energy.
Energy comes from God, not isolation.
So when we have alone time, we should use it to seek the Lord to gain energy.
It’s also important to recognize that while Jesus did gain energy from God alone, he used that energy for God and his people
Energy exists to be used.
Look at Luke 4:42-44
“And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”
Jesus had an opportunity to settle down, get comfortable in Capernaum, get plenty of down time, and live a comfortable life. But he stayed fixed on his calling from God. Even if it seemed like a really inviting life, his response was “I was sent for this purpose.”
When we put faith in Jesus, we also become sent. We are sent for a purpose. And that purpose, whatever yours is, definetly isn’t accomplished by spending all your time alone, being comfortable.
Jesus said in Luke 9:58, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” He used his energy, he didn’t idolize his comfortable place, in fact, he had no comfortable place. Now there’s nothing wrong with having a home, or with enjoying your home, but often we can feel tied to our place, our people, and our routine in a way that traps us from being used for the Kingdom.
If energy exists to be used, take a look at your life and ask yourself where your energy is going. Is it glorifying God, or is it just going toward yourself?
Gain energy from God, and then use it for God.