Community and the Extrovert Ideal

I started reading a fascinating book this week called, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Without further ado, here is the quote (or quotes) of the week:

Today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable…[as a result] many people pretend to be extroverts. It makes sense that so many introverts hide from themselves. We live with a value system I call the Extrovert Ideal–the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.

And then, here’s the kicker:

Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extraversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.

I have several reactions to this, but initially my thoughts turn towards community. I’ve had a number of conversations recently around the idea of community and when I pull them all together the picture (or working definition) of community that I get is of a large number of people who are together all the time and who do tons of fun things.

Is that true community though? Consider Jesus. He certainly interacted with a lot of people and at times had huge crowds around him.

That was not his community.

His community was 12 guys. These guys were a true community because:

  1. They were a manageable size.
  2. They had a mission (and a risky one at that).
  3. They spent a lot of “deep” time together.

Jesus also talked about the Kingdom of God as a party. He went to festivals and feasts. Again, he wasn’t afraid of the crowds.

But I wonder if the Extrovert Ideal hasn’t warped our idea of what authentic community really is. And that is pretty interesting to me.

More to come from this book, I am sure!


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