ADHD Christianity: Introversion & Discipleship

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 14, 2022 0 comments

by Eric Hansen

While this topic isn’t strictly related to having ADHD, having such does complicate matters more. But first, it’s important to define some terms. An introvert is a person who regains energy by being either alone or in smaller group settings. Typically, they are the people who find much joy in watching Netflix or YouTube alone, for example, but will socialize as well. Discipleship, however, is a multi-faceted action. The common view of discipleship is becoming a mentor to someone seeking to know more about Christ, get involved in a ministry, etc. Discipleship is relational. It’s nearly impossible to walk someone through growing closer to Christ without educating them in their shortcomings, but also getting to know them as a person to know how to minister to them. The main focus of this post will be centered around the relational aspect of discipleship – trying to disciple others and building that relationship while being introverted and having ADHD.

Think about a time when God gave you a chance to share Jesus directly with someone. If you’re like me, you probably shied away from the situation or started rambling. It’s not uncommon for me to do either of those things, because it can be intimidating. Even in study groups, I’ve been known to just sit there and have a coherent thought yet make it seem like I speak in tongues when I verbalize said thought.

In reality, when you make Jesus Christ your priority, sharing your faith is just talking about the Son, Father, and Holy Spirit. It can be retelling others’ stories to help guide the conversation, or sharing your own experiences to make the talk become more personal. Being vulnerable, though, can be a struggle when you find it tough to talk to others or become drained around others. For example, I often find it hard to focus after a certain point when I’m with a group of other people because I expend so much energy fighting my ADHD to focus on what is happening in front of me instead of around me.

The question quickly becomes how to resolve the issue. How can someone who is shy, is introverted, and has a problem focusing when there’s a shiny red ball everywhere be still and talk about Christ to others?

One way is to look at how Christ did His talks. The times He spoke were never in a situation that involved Him being hurried. Even when a matter seemed very important to the people seeking Him, Jesus took his time (i.e., John 11). Even in His sermons, we don’t see Jesus as someone rushing; He spoke with calmness but also authority. We, too, can look at this as a sign that we should approach these conversations with calmness. A famous saying is, “It’s a marathon not a sprint.” This means that the journey is long and we need to pace ourselves, not try to get things done quickly and exhaust ourselves easily. So instead of feeling like you need to throw everything about Jesus to someone right away, take it slow. The vast majority of the time, if we push the topic hard and fast, it’ll lead people further away from the discussion.

Saying to take it slow is nice, but in what ways can we actually do this?

In a “class” I’m taking as part of entering missionary work, we are talking solely about relational discipleship. While this is something I will cover more in depth in another post, one very important thing that was said recently was, “Tell people how something reminds you of Jesus.” An example given was that the person was spending time with some coworkers making naan bread. During that time, he mentioned how the bread reminds him of Jesus. The coworkers asked why/how, and it allowed him to talk about how Jesus is the bread of life for him without it being forced. Of course, the conversation was guided by the connection of bread and Jesus, but something we need to remember as Christians is that we need to go to the people; people won’t come to us. So we need to find simple ways to just talk about how Jesus is important to us.

If you find it hard to focus when sharing stories about Christ to others, consider your surroundings. For me, it’s easier to be at a restaurant or café when talking about things like this. If I need time to think of what to say or how to form a thought properly, I can take a drink or a bite of food. However, others may not find it as convenient for them. Perhaps they get easily sidetracked when they look at the menu. Perhaps you could meet at a park and bring up how the scenery or nature reminds you of Christ. Be intentional in your thoughts. Christ was intentional with everyone He talked to because He was intentionally talking about the Father.

The last thing I wanted to talk about here is what I said before, where we have to go to the people because they won’t come to us.

This is probably one of the most scary aspects of seeking discipleship. When you have ADHD, you can also have perfectionism, which makes it harder to accept failure; things turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will. Being a follower of Christ and following the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) is definitely not easy. However, we need to speak to those who do not yet know Christ, which is why it’s important to know ourselves who Christ is. There are many ways to start a discussion, both direct and indirect. The important thing is to keep Christ at the center of it all. In doing so, we can go to others and share who Christ is to us.

Before going to talk to others, simply answer, “Who is Jesus to me?” From there you can talk freely. I don’t have kids, but I share how since knowing Christ, I have become a much more loving husband. This is especially valuable to a newlywed or someone struggling to keep their relationship alive. While the person may come to me asking for help or venting, I’m still going to that person with the intentionality of Christ being the solution instead of providing secular advice.

Introverted ADHD doesn’t mean we can only be a backseat Christian, but it does mean we have to be more intentional than others. The important thing is to keep Christ first, and be aware you may not have all the answers when God puts you into a place of talking about faith, but that God will direct your conversation.

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