Does God only use the ‘people’ people?
There are two sorts of people out there. There are those focused on other people, and there are the task- or thing-oriented people. I know that I am in the latter class, and indeed I only function among others by means of some carefully fabricated plastic personalities. Most of us, perhaps, do the same.
It’s like getting a lame dog over a stile. Some people will pick up the lame dog and lift it over the stile. Others will look at the stile and say, “We need to redesign this stile so that lame dogs can get themselves through it.”
Neither is wrong. Temperament comes into this a lot.
But … does God only want the first sort? It sometimes seems so. Certainly those who are NOT people oriented find only a marginal role in most Christian activity. They get set to do the magazine, or stuff like that (hey, I’ve been there!) Can we think of a thing-oriented person in the bible?
It’s worth praying about. God calls us to be like Him, to submit to Him, to be changed by Him into what he meant us to be.
So how does it work for those of us who are socially awkward, rather isolated? What does God want of us?
And, of course … how on earth do we ever get married, if the Christian girls all want to marry the other sort!
9 thoughts on “Does God only use “people” people?”
Roger, this is a very interesting topic!
I myself am struggling with it always. My “solution” is that you should not “give in” and “accept” your anti-sociality. You have to work against it. I am 100% sure that God does NOT want you to sit all your life in a small chamber and study manuscripts. Nobody will be saved by doing this. Jesus did not do this.
Your inner self says “I can’t, I am not that type of person.” That’s right, for you and for me. But you can learn. Baby steps. 🙂
This does not mean that you should give up your manuscript study. But it means that you should actively work to become a more social person. There will be problems, but don’t shut yourself away. This is self-pity.
Some day you will need other people. Perhaps someone needs you.
It will always be a “thorn in the flesh”, I know this all too well, but there is no other way: Get up and go.
As a Christian we have joined with a community of people, a church, which is by nature a social thing. But we must be careful not to impose what is essentially a human social need over the “social” nature of the Christian life. You asked the question about whether there are examples of “bookish” people used by God in the Bible—perhaps not, but certainly isolated and even introverted people were: consider how much Noah was criticized, or how degrading the life of Hosea. Sometimes it’s only in retrospect that we (or those after us) appreciate how we have labored for God’s glory. More often, I suspect, our impact is significantly larger than our recognition. But that’s okay. Its not about accolades or pats on the back. Surely the debt we owe to all those faithful scribes who through two centuries transcribed and re-transcribed the texts which we now faithfully (and without pause for thanks) enjoy. Even “bookish” people labor for others. What good is a book if its not read? Perhaps some single comment spoken off-handedly has had an unknown and great impact—something truly world changing; or perhaps your work compiling and posting (for free) all these early Christian works is the modus operandi of some great thing. God seems to make much of even the small, insignificant things, and he uses us all according to our talents for his glory…
@Wieland, well I’m having another go myself. I went to a truly wretched evening group on Tuesday and had to sneak out unobserved after an hour. Couldn’t take any more! But it’s hard going. I’m not bad at mixing with people with whom I have anything in common, but not that great with people whom I don’t feel any attraction to.
That’s why I wondered whether it was hard for the ‘people’ people, or just for the ‘thing’ people.
@B.R.Mullikin: Good thoughts. But I simply don’t know. Compared to someone whose life I have been looking at, mine looks rather pointless. Mind you, they might have felt the same in reverse! Grass is always greener syndrome…
The desert fathers of Egypt come to mind, as do the anchorites in the first chapter of St Benedict’s rule who take up “the solitary combat of the desert” after preparation in community. I think there’s a properly Christian life for everyone, not just those `people’ people.
Agreed Bill but Clement says somewhere that the solitary life shouldn’t be forced on people either.
Sometimes I think we all wonder whether what we are doing is any good, no matter what our calling is. But we are all part of the body of Christ, and every part has its duty, and the body is not healthy unless all are working together. Some parts are public, seen by everybody, some work behind the scenes, but all are necessary. Without people like you, who would there have been to pass on Scripture? Or who would there be to research the early church, or to correct misstatements (and lies too) about Jesus and the apostles? Without Eusebius, for example, we would all suffer loss. No doubt, Ezra and John the Baptist were not “people” people, but God certainly used them.
It is good for us to work on our weaknesses, if it be social skills, then we should seek out the company of others. And likewise if we struggle with reading, we should make sure we pick up a book, and if we struggle to quiet ourselves before God, we should certainly spend more time in prayer.
You have helped me Roger, without you I do not think I ever would’ve managed to start translating or had been encouraged to learn Syriac.
Thank you Tom for your feedback on this, and of course your kind words are appreciated, and I am glad that you’ve gained from my efforts. I’m still having difficulty with it myself.
One effect of the bereavement has been to create in me amazing feelings of worthlessness and failure. I suspect that they may be just natural parts of the process, but then I have never had this experience before.
It all comes down to what God wants us to do. You know, I have a feeling that, if we are willing for him to (and I always have been), He will do a whole load of stuff in our lives anyway. Have to be vague in public, of course.
Oh, come on, Roger. Ezekiel! Not only did God tell him to demonstrate stuff to the people of Israel instead of saying it, God commanded him to make dioramas and play wargames with miniatures! There’s also Job, which is all about using mining and star metaphors. Also, the virtues of stubbornness. Geeky! And then there’s Paul. Total geekdom. Kept preaching and preaching till somebody fell out the window, never had a clue that people were going to try and kill him till they rioted and came after him, trained in geeky Jewish scholarship, etc. Oh, and Joseph getting thrown in a hole and sold into slavery, because he had no clue what his brothers were thinking.
And honestly, there are tons of Jewish geeks now, so I think we can assume there always were. They were just geeky about farming and herding and housekeeping and weaving, and the Law. “I study the Law day and night, and at night I wake up and think about how awesomely cool it is” — that’s a geek psalm par excellence.
Don’t be so crazy hard on yourself. Having another string to your bow is always good, but beating yourself up for being how God made you is silly.
Hope you’re in Iceland now, and caught the amazing solar storm auroras.
Wise words, Maureen – thanks! Iceland has helped, funnily enough.