“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
1 Corinthians 10:24
[Today, I’m beginning a new feature on Precious Adornment, “Ask Mel,” which I hope will be a fun and beneficial addition to the blog. Since no one is writing to me asking for my advice, I decided to write to myself. :) I’ll use this pretend letter to present a real problem and offer straightforward, no-nonsense solutions from God’s Word. Hope you enjoy!]
I have a problem and need some advice. My husband is the kind of guy who loves being around people. Church events, Bible studies, dinners, parties—wherever there’s an activity involving a group of people, that’s exactly where he wants to be. The problem? Being around groups of people just isn’t my cup of tea. I would much rather spend quiet evenings at home with my husband and a good book, which causes more than a little tension between us at times. He says I’m anti-social; I say I’m just not a people person. Is there any hope for harmonizing our mismatched personalities?
Anti-Social in Anaheim?
Let me start with the simple answer to your question—yes, there is hope. God wants to blend your differing personalities together to make your marriage sing. A song sung in unison simply can’t compare to the beauty of singing in harmony; that’s why God takes two people with differing strengths and weaknesses and joins them together in marriage. Right now, you probably both need to work on your individual parts before you begin harmonizing, but you have to let him concentrate on overcoming his bad notes while you focus on your own.
You say you’re not a people person, and I assume what you mean is that you’re not an extrovert. This is an important distinction, because you can be Christlike without being an extrovert, but I’m afraid you can’t be like Christ without becoming a people person. Hang with me while I explain further.
When I say people person, a picture of the stereotypical social butterfly probably pops into your head. You know, the popular person who turns get-togethers into parties with his sparkling conversation, jokes, and non-stop entertainment. That’s not what I mean when I refer to being a people person. When I think people person, I think Jesus Christ. Think about it. If ever a human being could be described as being a people person, it would be Him. The days of His public ministry were filled with meeting, talking to, spending time with, praying for, encouraging, speaking truth to, serving, and sacrificing for other people. His entire life revolved around the two great commandments—loving God and loving others, and He told us that our lives must travel the same orbit (Matt. 25:34-39; Jn. 13:34). The choice for each of us as Christians is not between being anti-social or being social butterflies, but between becoming GOD-centered, OTHERS kinds of people or remaining SELF-centered, ME kinds of people.
So, what am I saying? First, I’m not saying you have to give up all of your quiet evenings at home to spend time with people every night, but you probably do need to give up one every now and then. Also, I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy time spent alone; Jesus knew that in order to be a God-centered, others kind of person, He needed to spend time alone with His Father and rest. Here’s the bottom line—the command to love God and love others doesn’t allow room for being anti-social. It does allow room for the enjoyment of solitude, a preference for one-on-one quality time, and of course, room for improvement in becoming a Christlike people person. It’s impossible to communicate love while being anti-social. So, begin to love others with small steps–make a phone call, invite someone over for dinner, or write an encouraging note. When motivated by your love for God, these small steps will lead you toward the path blazed by Christ.
While many people enter this world as natural extroverts, none of us arrives as a God-centered, others kind of person. That kind of selflessness requires God’s grace at work in our sanctification. Extroverts can be motivated by selfishness, just as introverts can. The good news is that in Christ, our personalities are not fixed in stone; God is continually molding them to look more and more like Christ’s. Whatever our natural personality, we must all learn to do what we do for God’s glory and the good of others. Pray and meditate on Philippians 2:1-11, and as you remember Christ’s example of humble servanthood in that passage, focus on Paul’s instruction in verse 4: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If both you and your husband make this command a priority, you’ll find yourselves harmonizing in no time.
Hoping for your harmony,
Photo: Piotr Lewandowski