Saturday, March 23, 2013
God Uses All Types
I was more than halfway through the week-long orientation training with my mission agency in October 2009, when the speaker, a long-time missionary, delivered a verbal blow.
"Unless you have an A-type personality, you won't survive on the missionfield." The words hit me hard, almost painfully. Later I went back to my room and agonized over what this meant for me. I was filled with a mix of despair and anger. Why? Because I am not an A-type person - never have been, probably never will be in the future.
A types are known for being high-strung, competitive, multi-taskers, time-managers, high-achievers and generally more extroverted. I, conversely, am a B type - those who work steadily, but are not necessarily bound by time (can be procrastinators), enjoy achievement, but do not become stressed when they do not achieve, are generally more introverted, are more reflective, more relaxed, more easy-going, and more flexible.
Yet,despite my personality type, I knew back in 2009 that God was calling me to Uganda, and I was obediently, though somewhat timidly, following His beckoning.
Now in 2013, as I look around at my fellow Ugandan missionaries - I see all types of personalities. Yes, there are the dynamic and charismatic, but there are also the quiet, more introspective ones. Undoubtedly, both groups of people were called here and are successfully impacting lives in their various avenues and methods of ministry.
For a long time, I thought something was wrong with me - that I had been shy and quiet for as long as I could remember. When I was young, to get me to talk was an achievement, like when my kindergarten Sunday School teacher rushed up to my mom one Sunday, exclaiming "Ruthie said something!" I guess that was a pretty unusual occurrence at the time.
Growing up, I avoided new environments and meeting new people like some would avoid the plague. I hated talking on the phone, even as a teenager. When seeing someone I knew in the grocery store, I would hang back, forcing my younger, but more gregarious sister to do most of the talking.
Then at age 18 I was hired to work at the local newspaper. After a couple of years there, I was asked to begin writing human-interest stories. I loved writing, but the interviewing part crippled me with fear. I distinctly remember my first interview for that initial human-interest story. I was so, so nervous - likely far more than the person I interviewed. And I continued to be nervous before any interview for a number of years to come.
If you wanted to get my heart racing, ask me to go talk to a complete stranger and gather information from them by asking too many questions, oftentimes quite personal questions. This just went against my grain. But over time, actually a total of 11 years at the newspaper, I gained courage and discovered that such encounters could be enjoyable, with opportunities to learn new things and meet new people, who were not as fearsome as I had always feared.
And then in October 2009, after months of praying and planning for Uganda, I was told that I was just not the type for the missionfield.
That afternoon, after crying, praying, and calming my emotions, I decided the speaker must be wrong. Since I had obviously been called by God, God had decided He could use me, somehow, someway, despite my weaknesses and faults.
It's true - I am not the natural selection to head up a team or pioneer a new project. Some of my favorite spots to serve are in solitary places, behind the scenes. While I may not be a high-achieving go-getter, I am known to be loyal and stick with something and people for a long time. Get a project going and I will do my best to make sure it continues. I may not be a sprinter, but I am in it for the long haul.
I realize now that A types are not better than B types, nor is the opposite true. God made both.
I take courage and encouragement when I read of God's "chosen" in the Bible. He certainly picked all types when carrying out His work - Moses - the stuttering introvert, Gideon - the fearful and least of his tribe, David - the young and overlooked shepherd boy, Peter - the impulsive disciple, and many others. I can only imagine the differing personality types of the 12 disciples that Jesus gathered around Him.
God doesn't favor A-types or B-types, since He obviously created both.
Honestly, when God is choosing His vessels, I don't think He so much looks at weaknesses, strengths, or personality types, but on people whose hearts are toward Him, who want to love, serve and to be used by God. And God actually delights in our weaknesses, for in our "cracks," His strength shines brighter.
Even today I tell people I am not the "missionary type," yet I know God has called me to where I am and to what I am doing. And I delight in the fact that His body is a beautiful and varied mosaic of personality types, A and Bs, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, carrying out God's incredible mission and commission.
Don't let others tell you whether or not God can use you. God made you - He can use you.
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