Everyday Pilgrimage:
Hospitality & How to
Care for Introverts

Somewhere between solitude & connection lies the key to how to care for introverts.

It’s always a bit of a conundrum. So many of the ways Christians are urged to reach out, connect, witness, and build relationship are outward-reaching activities … not qualities of being. Listening. 

“Be still and know that I am God…”

~Psalm 46:10

Because maybe when we focus so much on activity, we forget what matters most. We become enamored with our own actions—our own ability to make things happen

We can forget that God made us each with distinct gifts and purposes—the different parts of the “body of Christ.” We can forget that hospitality wears many different faces, depending on who it is that we need to care for.

How to Care for Introverts

A while back, I was part of a small Bible study group mostly made up of parents of young children. But there was also a grandmother in the group.

And somewhere in the long list of possible gifts a person could have—teaching, prophecy, healing, wisdom, and so on—rested her gift: hospitality. She felt like it was such a humble gift in the midst of (her words) “such talented people.”

And I was floored, because everyone liked receiving her gift so graciously given. Everyone enjoys someone who’s genuinely hospitable and gives of herself in a way that welcomes or cares for others in a way they benefit from receiving. By comparison, prophecy is an “important” gift, but few people like receiving it. Prophets in the Bible tended to have difficult and even miserable times. Think about it: Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern.

Necessary … not enjoyed.

But how lovely it is to be looked after by someone who’s good at hospitality and gives it freely. In my view, it’s a different kind of healing gift, because it nourishes and heals people within. Her gift was beautiful and she was beautiful as she exercised it.

She made entire dinners for every family in that group, but she didn’t require us all to come together to receive it. She recognized we were all buried under a load of responsibilities and sought only to relieve some of that load.

To make space for us to be a little more “still.” And in that space, families could choose to come together themselves and connect better or just take a break … a little bit of solitude … so when we rejoined our loved ones, we could connect better. There had been a time of refreshing. 

Although she hadn’t laid out a plan for how to care for introverts specifically, her hospitality met each of us where we were.

To me, that’s the key. Each of us in on a journey. But each person’s life pilgrimage looks a little bit different. The way she chose to give nourished each of exactly as we were.

Be Still and Know...

There’s a story about Mary and Martha in the Bible that can shift how we see how God calls us to approach connection and service.

In it, Jesus and his disciples were visiting their home, and Martha was working hard to be a good hostess. She objected to her sister Mary sitting there listening to Jesus while she did all the work. I totally get that. I’ve been the one stuck doing all the un-fun work while everyone else hung out and had a good time.

But when Martha called out her sister for not bustling along with her—for not meeting traditional expectations—Jesus supported a different priority:

“Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” 

~John 11:41-42

Being still. Being. Listening. A quiet kind of relationship.

Going apart from the activity to be still and know that he is God—to wait for his grace and wisdom—comes before outreach.

In that sense, this “how to care for introverts” is really something for everyone: We need to be still. To listen for God, to relate and connect to him first. 

In churches filled with so much activity, we sometimes forget to journey toward God and focus so much on the programs.

Yet there it is: Sometimes God wants us to just stop all that and be with him (sometimes by going off alone).

It’s not less important than the outward action. In fact, doing the outward action at all well depends on taking time for it. And in that sense, how to care for introverts is (at least a little bit) how to care for every Christian.

Inspiration for the Journey...