I write this post with some reticence since I’m an introvert—and I don’t want to imply that I’ve done well in ministry. I know so many things I could still do better that I feel no right to claim success.
At the same time, though, I have students who are surprised to learn that many ministers are introverted. Extroverts can be great ministry leaders, of course, but so can introverts. Based on my experience with other introverts and my own study, here’s why I affirm introverts in ministry:
- Introverts tend to be intensely thoughtful. We take things in and consider them deeply, even if no one else knows how deeply we’ve done so. We tend to think about things before doing them—generally a good trait for all gospel ministers.
- We care deeply for those closest to us. Our deep friendships may not be many, but the friendships we do have are genuine and long-lasting. These solid friendships often give us the courage and gusto we need to hang out among the crowds when we must—like, fellowship dinners and church picnics. . . .
- We enjoy being alone. I grant that aloneness can also get people in trouble, but we don’t mind spending time doing things like prayer and study. We may still struggle with doing those things, but it’s not because we’d rather be “where the action is.” Private time with the Lord can be quality time.
- We tend to keep our emotions inside us. Again, that trait can be negative, but ministry often demands that we listen and lead while dealing with our internal emotions and frustrations. We reflect before we respond—a trait that could protect us from creating disunity in a church.
- We’re good listeners. We may seem to be on the sidelines at times, but that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention. We listen and watch – and those same tendencies make us good listeners, counselors, and pastors.
- We can focus on a task. Typically reflective and analytical, we can give devoted attention to a task. Seldom will anything—including critics—distract us from reaching the goal.
- We often don’t mind teaching groups or speaking to large crowds as long as we’ve prepared well. In fact, we often enjoy those opportunities more than we enjoy hanging out with a small crowd. Many of us regularly speak publicly, but we do it only with much preparation.
- We notice those most like us. That is, we don’t miss other introverts hanging out in church. Because we trust that God is using us as introverts, we believe He will use others like us.
- We ask a lot of questions. It’s one way of controlling a conversation and protecting our space, but it’s also a way of showing genuine interest in somebody else. We want to learn about others.
I know we’re not all completely alike, but fellow introverts, what have I missed? What would you want to add?