Confessions of an Introverted Thinker

This is probably one of the most personal blogs that I will ever write. Without going into details, my family and I are going through many  life changes right now. Some of the spiritual lessons I learned at the beginning of my walk with the Lord are being revisited now in a deeper way. I am, by nature, a sociable introverted thinker. I tend to be highly analytical, methodical, and generally enjoy a certain amount of order and routine to my life - but that orderliness is just not happening right now. This has got me thinking about temperaments. Some folks out there may object to this (particularly pastors of certain doctrinal stances) and will argue that temperaments do not really exist. They will say that temperament tests are a tool of the devil. Well, let me address the first part of this objection. Any man who has ever gone shopping with a woman has experienced that the male and female temperaments have distinct differences, some of which have even been stressed and popularized in some recent books.

Beyond such temperamental differences between the genders, differences in personal temperaments also have a long history of documentation. The Bible does not have one particular word related to the idea of temperament, but it does give us the idea that we as personal image-bearers have individual personalities, as seen in this verse: "You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways (Psalm 139:3, NKJV)." Surely the psalmist does not believe that all other people's perspectives and basic methods of doing things are the same as mine. It is also commonly acknowledged that some individuals are prone to certain sins, while others are prone to distinctly different ones. People are not equally drawn to the same kinds of sin.

In the same way, to argue that all people are equally outgoing in nature would be absurd. Equally absurd would be to argue that all people make decisions more from logical thought rather than feelings, or even the other way around.  In short, individuals have individual strengths and weaknesses as part of a general temperament. It logically follows that if people have certain types of temperaments, i.e. certain sets of strengths and weaknesses, these patterns of strengths and weaknesses may be seen to exist in such a way that we can also say there are certain types of people. For this blog’s purpose, there are two: all unsaved people, who remain sinners until they accept Christ, and all regenerated people, who stay regenerate.

This distinction makes a huge difference for the regenerate because, in the hands of our Redeemer, struggles with weaknesses in our temperament are not always about sin. Sin is not so much having weaknesses, any more than it is exercising one's strengths. In fact, every virtue or strength has a correlating weakness or vice. One could easily argue biblically that this is the very reason why we need the sanctifying influence of the Spirit - to help us in our weaknesses and to help us keep our strengths in balance, so they do not become vices.

So, where does that put the individual who is given to analysis and reflection, and in love with the world of ideas (a.k.a. the introverted thinker)? Well, a gift for analysis is an incredible strength and very useful in Bible teaching, as well as in apologetics. The struggle is that the misuse of specific abilities tends to create a problem with doubt and lack of faith. Therein lies my own struggle. In my fifties, this introverted thinker is finding it necessary to refocus on God's character and the issue of faith. To this end, I am grateful that God has raised up other thinkers in the faith -  individuals such as J.P. Moreland and CS Lewis, to name a few. You see, if God had not raised up thinkers of the faith, then faith could be regarded as only for the unthinking. By raising up individuals who are thinkers, God is indicating that faith is something that needs to be exercised by all in Jesus Christ. For the individual who is more of a feeler, the difficulty may be in objectively thinking through one's faith and not simply leaving truth behind. However, for the thinker, the challenge may be feeling and experiencing the faith which one knows intellectually.

In conclusion, one can see how the strengths an individual possesses can become their greatest challenges. All need Christ, for the thinker must believe and experience Him, and the feeler must know Him objectively through the truth of His word.