The Great Commission is for Introverts too
“I love doing this with you” I said to my husband as we walked hand in hand towards the town square to share the gospel with people. “I would like it more if we could do evangelism from home, on our couch with a cup of hot tea” was his honest reply. I have often felt the same way when it comes to evangelism and wished there were a way I could just share the gospel without having to talk to people. In fact, I may as well go ahead and confess- the main reason I love doing evangelism alongside my husband is because he is the one who does most of the talking and I can simply be there for support, prayer, handing out tracts or interjecting here and there. Being solely responsible for carrying the conversation and answering all the questions or objections is much harder for me.
Evangelism is not easy for most people but it is especially difficult for those of us who prefer to stay home, curled up in a comfy chair with a good book and a cup of hot tea. Regardless of how far out of our comfort zone it may be though, the Great Commission was given to introverts too. While it may be an easier task for those who naturally enjoy befriending strangers and feel rejuvenated by crowds of people, we cannot use our personality type as a cop out for obeying God’s commands. Sharing the gospel is each and every Christian’s responsibility and it is not one that we can shirk simply because we find it challenging or uncomfortable. Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, once said: “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered but a command to be obeyed.” Obedience to God will not always be easy, but it will always be worth it because Jesus is always worth it.
The Great Commission
Before going any further, let’s take a look at what the Great Commission actually is. Before Jesus ascended back into heaven He gave his disciples these parting words, this was their commission to fulfill after He was gone, He said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18b-20
Keep in mind that these were Jesus’s final words before His ascension, this was the last command He gave to His disciples before leaving them and completing His earthly ministry forever. That alone should make us realize their significance. Of all the things Jesus could have spoken before He left this earth, it was this command telling us to go and make disciples of every nation. From Genesis to Revelation God discloses His plan to gather people from every language, tribe and tongue- His people play a vital role in that. God has called us to the task of being His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:11-21), what greater privilege is there than to be an ambassador for the King Himself?!
Let’s briefly dive a little deeper into the text now and get more technical by looking at the meaning and grammatical structure of this verse. The word for “go” in Greek is something called a “participle of attendant circumstance,” which means it takes the full force of the imperative (the command) that follows (“make disciples”). This proves to us that the Great Commission was indeed a command, not a suggestion. Furthermore, the Greek word “go” translated into English, literally means go (imagine that!). In other words, we are actually, literally to go and make disciples. While many like to claim that evangelism just isn’t their gifting, it does not take a special gift to be obedient to God’s commands. Introverts are every bit as much called to evangelism as anyone else is. Jesus never said, “Extroverts, go disciple the nations.” In fact, He never mentioned anything about personalities at all. Instead, He just said go because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him- it isn’t about the disciples and their personality type, it’s about the power and authority of Jesus. He expects all of His followers to share His story not because of a specific gifting or personality, but because it is our calling, given to us from and empowered by Christ Himself.
Cross Bearing Christianity
God could have created us all with the same personality type. Wouldn’t it have been much better if He had? Actually, I don’t think it would have been. God desires to display His power in our weakness and what better way to do that than to take a shy or socially awkward person and empower them with boldness and ability to share the most important message the world has to offer?! This is ultimately about His glory not ours. It is about His ability in our inability. Using people with all kinds of personalities, backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses is a way of displaying His greatness.
For those of us who gravitate more towards quiet seclusion and put a high value on our privacy, sharing the gospel is more uncomfortable. It takes effort for us to go out of our way to talk to a stranger about the gospel or to invite others into our homes to hear the good news. Our space and privacy are precious to us, but we need to stop and ask ourselves, is Jesus worth it? Is He really worth giving up the things we value most? Does Jesus really mean enough to us to cause us to willingly give up our comfort and ease to go share the gospel with those He places in front of us? It is typically more of a sacrifice for an introvert to knock on their neighbor’s door and have a gospel centered conversation or to stand on a street corner and proclaim the gospel, but is Jesus worth the sacrifice?
C.T. Studd, a missionary to China, India and Africa, once said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
Christ has called us take up our cross and follow Him. He desires for us to die to ourselves (and yes, dying is about what an introvert feels like after being around a ton of people, noise and activity), die to our preferences and comforts and follow Him. Being willing to do so is the mark of a true and maturing Christian. Introverts may have to fight their flesh a little harder than others in this area, but this very fighting is a significant part of our sanctification. The joy of obedience far surpasses the cost.
Love Can Inspire us to do Difficult Things
Regardless of your personality, love can inspire you to do difficult things. Imagine with me for a moment a father and son deep sea fishing together. The father suffers from a phobia of sharks and since he has already seen one too many on this particular excursion, he warns his son not to lean too far over the railing of the boat. As they await the gentle tug of their fishing lines, a single fin protruding out of the water captures the boy’s attention. He peers through the railing intently, attempting to determine what could possibly be lurking directly beneath him in the water, it appeared large… too large for a fish. Consumed with curiosity and completely lost in the moment, he forgot his father’s instructions and determined to gain a better view. He placed one foot, then the other, on the bottom rail, leaning slightly forward so that he could perhaps see what this deep-sea creature actually was, then… SPLASH! The boy realizes at once that the creature he was so intent upon seeing had been a large shark and it had not been alone. Unable to climb back into the boat on his own he screams for help. The father, alerted by the splash and shrill scream, immediately plunges into the shark infested waters, almost forgetting his greatest fear out of the driving desire to rescue his son. He ignores the icy cold waves he is now submerged in and after quite some struggle he manages to pull both himself and his son back onto the boat unharmed. What was it that drove this father to dive into the ocean and face his greatest fear? Love for his son.
Jesus said that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. If I were living in sin and on my way to hell, I would want someone to love me enough to share the gospel with me. What better way is there to express love for others than to share the hope of salvation with them?! Think of the eternal fate of those who are lost in their sin. Ask God to put love in your heart for the lost and let love be the driving force in all your evangelistic endeavors. As Ray Comfort, the founder of Living Waters ministries, once said: “Don’t pray for less fear to reach the lost, pray for more love.”
It isn’t just love for the lost that can motivate us to conquer our fears and share the gospel, but love for Christ. When you consider how Christ gave up everything to save you- how He left His throne in heaven, came to earth as a baby, lived a perfect sinless life yet still endured constant ridicule and shame. When you consider how He suffered, bled and died for your sake. When you think of His nail scarred hands and feet. Does all of this not cause you to love Him more? Jesus said: “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” -John 14:15 Let love for Christ be your ultimate driving factor for everything you do, including evangelism.
Embracing the Fear
Revelation 21:8 says, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur which is the second death.” Did you notice the first thing on the list? Cowardice is no small thing in God’s eyes, He places it on the same list as murder, lying, sexual immorality etc. The Bible tells us three-hundred-sixty-five times to “fear not”. I am not saying that if you are experiencing fear when it comes to sharing your faith, that you are a coward on your way to hell. If that were the case, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross would be meaningless- nothing we do can ever merit our salvation. It does place things in perspective though, God wants a bold and courageous people, and He promises to empower us with His boldness and power.
Courage is not necessarily the absence of fear, godly courage means doing what is right even if you are afraid. The apostle Paul suffered an immense amount of persecution and was ultimately martyred for his faith in Christ, if anyone in the Bible could be considered bold it would likely be him. Yet, even Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:3 “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.” Weakness? Fear? Much trembling? That doesn’t sound very bold does it? Yet, despite all of those feelings- despite the weakness, despite the fears, despite the trembling- Paul preached the gospel regardless of the cost, that is what made him bold. If you feel fearful, and have much trembling, you are every bit as qualified as the apostle Paul was.
Don’t despise the fear but learn to embrace it. Paul learned to embrace his weakness and God was able to reveal His power through it (2 Cor 12:9-10). Fear can force us to remain dependent upon Christ, rather than becoming puffed up in pride and self-reliant. Our weakness can humble us and cause us to lean upon Christ for the strength, boldness and wisdom we need to share His gospel with the lost world.
Equipped for the Task
We are not alone in our evangelistic endeavors, remember the last part of the Great Commission? “…Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We do not walk into this task alone; Christ has promised to go with us. I can remember how, as a child, one of my younger sisters was afraid to walk down the stairs in the dark by herself. If I would offer to go downstairs with her, it was as if her fears vanished entirely, but if I did not, she would often just forfeit going altogether. The comfort of having another go with you into the unknown can make all of your fears vanquish. The Holy Spirit, who Jesus referred to as the Comforter, has been given to every believer and equips us for bold and effective ministry.
Introverted and extroverted believers alike are equipped for fulfilling the Great Commission through the aid of the Holy Spirit, yet there may be some ways that introverts are specially equipped for the task (Just as there are ways extroverts are specifically equipped). Here are a few examples:
- Introverts are usually observers of people. We see a lot and can use these skills of observation to notice someone to connect with.
- Introverts naturally gravitate towards one-on-one which is an effective method of sharing the gospel that allows for deeper listening and sharing than with a crowd.
- Introverts generally prefer listening and internal processing rather than verbal processing. This can greatly bless those who feel the need to be head, known and understood before considering another’s viewpoint or belief.
- Introverts enjoy spending time alone, and what better way to use our alone time than to pray for those we have just witnessed to?!
Those are just a few examples, each and every person is different and will have a unique personality and skill set that God is able to work thorugh whether they are introverted or not. Again, God delights in using various types of people and personalities to advance His kingdom.
Just Do It
Evangelism is hard. Sometimes, it’s harder than other times. I have found though that the best way to accomplish hard things is to simply just do them. I can remember, only a few years ago, I had gone to do evangelism with a friend. Though I had done evangelism many times before I was completely paralyzed by my fear this time. I did not want to have to open my mouth and speak to anyone. After aimlessly walking around for some time feeling utterly miserable and ridiculous, I turned to my friend and told her we needed to go pray. We found a quiet spot by a fountain, away from all the people and I prayed that God would empower us with boldness to share the gospel with the people in the market. I stood up after praying and rather than feeling as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, I continued to feel the same fear and dread I had before. Unlike before, however, I decided to press through the fear and share the gospel with someone anyways. I purposed that I was just going to do it, regardless of how I felt. Before I could change my mind, I walked up to someone, with much trepidation, handed them a gospel tract and started talking with them about Jesus. The conversation flowed smoothly and went well but it certainly wasn’t easy for me and even after it ended, I continued battling with fear about sharing the gospel with others. It wasn’t until after two or three conversations that I actually felt it getting at least somewhat easier and began to feel more joy in the task. Don’t be discouraged if the fear doesn’t lift, just purpose that you are going to be obedient regardless. Remember that ultimately this is about God’s glory, not our comfort, we should be doing this out of love for Him.
You may be wondering where on earth to begin. First, I would encourage you to not despise small beginnings, it is better to start somewhere- even somewhere small- than to not start at all. Think of those in closest proximity to you- maybe it’s an unsaved relative, co-worker, or neighbor. If you don’t feel up for having a conversation with them, write them a letter. Begin looking for places that people are drawn to: parks, outdoor shopping centers, the grocery store, concerts, outdoor events etc. Go to those places and try talking to people about Christ. If you don’t know what to say, I highly recommend checking out Living Waters channel on YouTube, there are hundreds of evangelism encounters and witnessing videos there that can give you a framework to go off of. Consider taking someone who is more seasoned in evangelism along with you so they can help you. If you aren’t comfortable talking to groups of people, start with one on one. If you aren’t up for that, try handing out gospel tracts or setting them around in stores or libraries. There are innumerable ways to spread the gospel so be creative and just do it!
Remember, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matt 9:35-38). Plunge into the harvest with all your might and perhaps God will be pleased to used you to reap the fruit of His harvest.