Loneliness, Introversion, Personality Types, and God

Sometimes we need to accept ourselves as God made us:

One truth that cannot be denied is that God has made us all different. No two human beings are fully alike – not even identical twins. While we all do have much in common with one another, we are still fully unique as individuals, certainly in areas such as our personalities, character traits, preferences, temperaments, and so on.

So while believers should seek to strive for unity in the Body of Christ, this is not to come at the expense of our diversity – of our God given uniqueness and differences. There are no cookie-cutter people, and there are no cookie-cutter Christians.

And it is good to celebrate our differences. This can even be the case with big ticket items. Some folks are clearly introverts while others are clearly extroverts. While some of us introverts can learn to become more talkative and sociable, we need not deny who we are.

The truth is, I have never been a real people person. I am usually fairly content to do stuff alone, at least much of my work and my ministry. In that sense I am self-directed, and I do not need a team of others with me to help me perform my God-given tasks. I am fine as is, thanks.

However, God does not intend for any of us be fully alone. He made us for community, and he made us to need and depend on one another. But still, in all that, there is a place for diversity and difference. Some folks need others and want to be around others more than some of us do.

The other day I posted this on the social media:

I understand that Melbourne is, or will soon be, the Australian city with the biggest population. Oddly however, in my twice daily brief walk with Jilly dog, I often will not meet a single soul. Where is everybody? I guess they are all holed up in their homes, or offices, or businesses, or shops. As an old single guy, I might be getting lonely, but I sometimes think it would be nice to chat with a real human being in the flesh now and then!

Not too long thereafter I also posted this:

There are different kinds of loneliness, just as there are different kinds of people. Some people will still be quite lonely even with a large group of people, including in a church. And yes, steps can be taken to deal with this, but one size does not fit all. Even being in a small group (I have been in many over the years) is not always the answer. And I have known of some men’s groups where sports and cars are the main focus of discussion! Um, that is not for me!

Both posts generated a fair amount of talk and discussion. As regards the first one, I was really not complaining so much about being alone. I was mostly making an observation. But yes, without my wife of 41 ½ years, things can become a bit lonely at times. And mind you, if I did not have a dog to walk, I suppose I would be holed up in my home even more than I am now!

So in some respects it is up to me if I want to have a bit more of a social life. There is a proverb that comes to mind here: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24, KJV). If we want friends, but are having trouble making them, we need to start being a bit more friendly.

As to my second post, it in part was in response to those who replied by saying I should just get myself into church life. Well, of course for almost all my Christian life I have been actively a part of various churches. But two years of covid and a year and a half of her cancer pretty much curtailed all that. So I may need to get back into things here.

And regarding my remark about certain men’s groups, some Christians will say things like this: ‘Well Bill, you should stay in that group and steer it back into a much more godward direction.’ Yes, IF that is what God wants me to specifically do, then it is a goer. But it may be just as likely that he might want me out, so I do not spiritually starve while trying to be the hero there.

(Let me digress here a bit: many believers have said they are not always keen about small groups, or even sometimes about church itself! There are many reasons for this, but perhaps this explains why this older article has been seen, liked, shared and commented on more than any other of my pieces: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/12/26/on-leaving-church/ )

But as mentioned, some of these issues come down to personality types and the like. Many Christians were quite interested in a 1966 book by Tim LaHaye called Spirit-Controlled Temperament (1966). In it he discussed the four main temperament types: melancholic, choleric, sanguine, and phlegmatic.

He followed that up with Transforming Your Temperament (1971). In it and other books he sought to show how on the one hand, our temperaments are part of who we are, but on the other hand, God can help work on them, removing some weaknesses or strengthening other areas, etc. Many believers found these volumes to be quite helpful, especially in terms of where a believer might best fit in in terms of church work, ministry, or missions.

And various personality assessment tests over the years have been used as well, such as the Myers-Briggs test. Many churches have used these over the years, and there can be a place for all of them. But we always must realise that God is in the business of changing lives, so we cannot slavishly say ‘This is my temperament and God made me this way, so I cannot change.’

We need to get the balance right in terms of accepting ourselves for how God made us, but also in being willing with God’s help to make some changes in some areas where it is clear that change is needed. For a misanthrope and melancholic like myself, that does NOT mean I need to become Joe Extrovert, the life of the party – a gregarious social butterfly.

But it has meant that I have had to learn how to be more sociable, to be more people-orientated, and to try not to be so reluctant to be around others and in large gatherings at times. Having a few role models around me in this regard has helped as well.

Image of The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You
The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You by Holley Gerth (Author) Amazon logo

With all this in mind, some of you might quite like a recent volume penned by Christian counsellor and journalist Holley Gerth: The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You (Revell, 2020). It concludes by saying, “Let’s be who we are”. Yes, there are different temperaments and character traits, and yes God can change these to various degrees, but sometimes we need to recognise who God made us to be.

She looks at all this in some detail. She even cites research showing how who we are in terms of extroversion or introversion may be hardwired into our brains:

Approximately two-thirds of the energy our brains use goes to electrical impulses that help neurons communicate. Neurotransmitters play a role in that process. The dopamine-based reward network, which causes people to “become more talkative, alert to their surroundings, and motivated to take risks and explore the environment” is more active in extroverts.


As a quick review: Dopamine energizes extroverts but overwhelms introverts. Acetylcholine, another feel-good brain chemical, releases when we turn inward or engage in quieter activities. While introverts can be adventurous and fun-loving, lower-energy activities make us feel best. Extroverts may perceive this as “tired,” but it’s just a different way of enjoying life. (p. 145)

So to expect that we can just completely change our personality and temperament by a snap of the fingers or some prayer service may not be very wise – just as it is unwise to use who we are as an excuse to not make necessary adjustments and changes in our personality and social relationships.

As to the assessment tests I mentioned above, she says this: “Personality tests give us starting places for understanding ourselves and each other, but they never get the final say.” (p. 38) Learning about who we are is a very important first step, but that does not mean we are locked into where we are at. Some changes can be made with God’s help.

Let me share a quote about one well-known person that others like myself might find encouraging:

With a net worth of 77 billion dollars, introvert Warren Buffett is one of the world’s most successful investors. But you’d never know from his calendar. Buffett’s business partner Charlie Munger says, “You look at his schedule sometimes and there’s a haircut. Tuesday, haircut day. That’s what created one of the world’s most successful business records in history. He has a lot of time to think.”


For his entire career, Buffett spent, by his own estimation, 80 percent of his time thinking and reading. In a world that tells us only “busy people” make progress, Buffett’s reflection-based approach to life and business is an act of rebellion. But it’s one that has paid off. (p. 157)

The truth is, it is OK to be an introvert. We can be OK with who we are because God was OK with making us who we are. Citing the story of Elijah (in 1 Kings 19), she says this: “What if we, as introverts, are created to be living echoes of the gentle whisper of God? What if that’s why the world needs us to be who we are? What if that’s our powerful purpose?” (p. 170)

If there is something to all this, then that can be a relief for many of us who have grown tired of trying to measure up to all the bright, bubbly, loud, people-person types who are out there and seem to get so much attention – even in the Christian world. Maybe we can just be who God made us to be, and not apologise for it nor worry about it.

Gerth believes we must learn to start living as we were created to be. Again, that does not mean never seeking much needed-growth and development as people, and as Christians. But it does mean we can start to be comfortable in our own skins, and not worry about comparing ourselves with others. To use the words of Gandalf to Frodo, “And that may be an encouraging thought.”

Brief afterword

Let me mention just one downside to the book: Gerth does spend a few pages on the Enneagram (pp. 40-43), without pointing out any concerns with it. I have written about this before, demonstrating that it is an occultic tool and it really is not something Christians should get themselves involved in: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/01/10/beware-the-enneagram/

[1838 words]

6 Replies to “Loneliness, Introversion, Personality Types, and God”

  1. I can relate a lot to what you have mentioned Bill. I’m not a people person at all. I have Aspergers Autism and because of that I’m shy and introverted and I find it hard to relate and socialise with people and I find it hard to have friendships. I’m also 39 and will be 40 this year and I’m single and I have been single my entire life. I have never been in a relationship. I use to hate being the way I am but finally after years I finally learnt to just accept it and to accept the way I am. I’m also a complete person because I have God in my life. God is all I need I don’t need anything else.

  2. I’ve just done 3 “personality types ” (x2 Myers-Briggs)- Come out with 3 different results. Pray for my husband who has to live with a butterfly like me!

  3. Well of course, Esau was very outdoorsy and Jacob was more of an indoors person who thought it worthwhile wrestling to the point of massive pain to gain the blessing instead of selling his birthright for soup.

    If its any comfort, after losing my wife of 36 years to cancer, I too like to walk my dog, who was really meant to be her dog and who will be 13 in February, so I will need to brace myself for losing him too. I prefer walking him in the bush which is not so easy to do with National Parks excluding this in most places.

    I believe God has done a stupendous job in maximising the capability of all people but that the physical restraints of our creation mean that if you excel in one one area you will inevitably lose out in another. I believe God can use this in a synergetical way to promote the kingdom, just like men and women have different capabilities in marriage, which is why scriptures promote all people being involved. I don’t think most pastors and ministers understand this which seems to lead to all constructive criticism being dumped on as divisive and destabilising. I’m not sure what you do about this.

  4. I am introverted, PDD-NOS diagnosis leaning towards Asperger’s, at least with adults it’s harder to interact with them. it was alway hard to interact with people my age even as a kid and I wasn’t diagnosed till 32. But I always worked well with kids. Around them I am extroverted. But I rarely have the opportunity to work with kids, haven’t been able to for a couple decades, so mostly i am by myself by not lonely. Im quite fine being by myself I do well. I think about things I read I surf the internet I do well. If society didn’t immediately go to suspicion when a kind man work good with kids, and enjoys it, I could maybe be an elementary school teacher. But it’s only kids that can make me extroverted. I guess its part of the gift God gave me of working with children.

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