Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Overwhelmed by Quiet

I'm struggling to know how to respond to this media storm that is surrounding Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. I am feeling overwhelmed by the attention, so I can't even imagine how Susan is handling it. It's been featured on or in NPR, CNN, Time Magazine (the cover story), the New York Times, Forbes, O Magazine, and about 500 other huge media venues.

What are introverts to do when we become the center of attention?

As I write this, Quiet is #4 on Amazon. NUMBER FOUR. 

I was interviewed by the author of the Time Magazine cover story, which was exciting, but I did not make it into the article, which I feel sad about. But, it's clear that Introverts in the Church is getting a second wind as a result of Quiet's release and coverage.

The subtitle of page 64 in Quiet reads: "Does God Love Introverts? An Evangelical's Dillema." That "introvert with a dilemma" turns out to be me, and for the next 6 pages Susan discusses the time that she and I visited Saddleback Church together, to see what it was like for an introvert. This book is already reaching a wide audience, and I know it will be the beginning of a new conversation about introversion in our outwardly-oriented culture. I also hope it's the beginning of a new conversation about introversion and Christian community.

Here's a quick excerpt with a quote of mine:
"The evangelical culture ties together faithfulness with extroversion," McHugh explained. "The emphasis is on community, on participating in more and more programs and events, on meeting more and more people. It's a constant tension for many introverts that they're not living that out. And in a religious world, there's more at stake when you feel that tension. It doesn't feel like 'I'm not doing as well as I'd like.' It feels like 'God isn't pleased with me.'" Cain, Quiet, p. 66.
You'll have to read pages 64-69 to get the full story of our time there. Suffice it to say that I have great admiration for the mission and community of Saddleback, but that I can feel overwhelmed by the social expectations of church culture.

It is also great to read that experience from several years ago and to realize how far I have come. I am so much more confident now - in my God-given temperament, in my leadership, in the gifts I bring to others -than I was then. And that is my prayer for the hundreds of thousands of introverts who will be reading Susan's book. And maybe my book too.