For The Introverted Christians Who Come Across As Rude And Unfriendly

We’ve all been in that situation where we encounter a person whose quiet and automatically assume something is wrong. There is a sort of tension in the air even though we are the ones building that paranoia not the quiet person. Why are we constructing this unsettling paranoia in our heads? Because we’ve been taught by our culture that silence is a form of hostility and that something is a little off.

I wouldn’t say I’m a quiet person but a bit of an ambivert. I can turn on silence when I want and turn it off if I need to. I’d walk into the pub and after sometime all the regulars would perceive my silence and unwillingness to engage with them as hostile. This is long before I reverted to Catholicism.

One wealthy entrepreneur invited me to a big dinner with him. This guy was such a loud and fouled mouth type. He loved money and would crack jokes about poor people all the time. Yet, because he was a friend of someone in the area I’d have to say yes out of politeness and entertain him.

He took me aside and said, “You know, Stephen, there’s something eerie about you. Many people don’t like you. Even though you don’t open your mouth to say anything to anyone for someone reason people seem to dislike you.

I don’t know what it is about you, but when you walk into the room you have a sort of presence about you. It’s eerie and it’s like people know you’re there, you know? You walk in and everyone is immediately aware of your presence.”

I paused for a moment to observe this little fat man gorging on his fillet of steak before replying to him, “I’m quiet around people I don’t like and uncomfortable being in the presence of.” He nearly choked on that rare bloody steak he was eating is all I can say.

Although he had a loud mouth and his profligacy obvious for all to see, he wasn’t a completely horrible person. He had done one or two nice things for me but I turned them down in comedic fashion simply because if someone does you a favour they expect one back and I couldn’t entrust myself to him. There’s a lot of freemasonry in the area and I couldn’t be sure of him.

Anyway, this story is evidence of how the culture perceives quiet people. When people are in the presence of quiet persons they automatically assume something isn’t right. This silence is perceived as hostility and unsettling to some especially new fish coming into the Christian faith.

Christians engage in this behaviour all the time because our faith speaks about the value of silence. However, when it comes to evangelism, the world does not view the language of silence as something positive or spiritual. Therefore in order to reach out to them we must learn to sacrifice this silence to make conversion easier.

I went into an Irish building among a lot of pro life people. I was doing photographs for them. My wife mentioned the silence to me and I remember advising that, “they’re just naturally introvert. They don’t mean it. . . it’s a Christian thing. Don’t worry, they don’t hate you or anything.”

You see? When that man told me that everyone hated me because of my eerie silence, it’s because humans have this innate sense that something isn’t right if a person is not engaging in much conversation. This is why I always encourage Christians to sacrifice such introversion for the sake of welcoming the stranger.

Lots of Catholic and Orthodox priests tend to be very quiet and introvert. However, it can come across as hostile to a soul immersed in the ways of the world. Saint Paul would make sacrifices and pretend to engage in the traditions of other religions such as Judaism that he might convert them. We must learn how to do the same.

If you’re not a very approachable person you could end up driving people away from the faith. I know that’s not what you’re trying to achieve at all, but you need to come out of your shell more when engaging with others. Even worldly introverted types view silence from others as a form of hostility. It’s literally built into the culture to perceive silence in this way.

If you are a Bishop or Priest in charge of placing people in positions within the diocese, make sure you put the introverted types away from meet and greet situations (if you can help it). Even I can’t stomach such people because in my opinion they don’t make newcomers feel like they’re loved or wanted.

Some of the most loving saintly people I know are very quiet, but not a good trait when making first impressions. It takes a while for a worldly person to put value on the art of silence. While converts take time to understand the art of silence all Christians should be acutely aware of this and sacrifice their introversion for the sake of saving such souls.

If you can’t possibly do this then it’s a good idea you go off to a monastery or get an office job in the parish or something. Seriously, I’ve met priests who were put in situations where they had to meet with the general public. Right away I knew such people were not cut out for the public life and should be repositioned in a monastery by their Bishop. Likewise I’ve met monks who shouldn’t be in a monastery but dealing with the general public.

Quiet people are not bad people, just souls whose vocation is probably better served in a place suited to their spiritual disposition and personality. There’s no point putting such a person into an environment where unbeknownst to themselves they are doing more spiritual harm than good. It takes a good Bishop, priest or lay person responsible for evangelizing others to see these things and be able to apply the remedy before the wound gets out of control.

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