Are you an introverted pastor? Or are you thinking about becoming a pastor, but you worry you are too introverted?
I recently received an email asking the following question:
I am a teenager who loves preaching. But, at times I turn out to be an introvert. At times, when I want to speak out this sometimes hinders me. Have you got any suggestions for that?
Keep Up The Great Work !!
GOD Bless You !!!
- S (He gave me permission to share this, but asked to stay anonymous)
First of all, I am stoked that a teenager is so excited about preaching that he reads this blog. That is awesome! We need be raising up more young men like this.
Second, this isn’t a problem that only my new friend deals with. Struggling with being introverted is a common problem with pastors.
When we imagine a perfect pastor, we usually imagine an extrovert. They are always out evangelizing people. They love public speaking. They are always happy and energetic to be around people. But this stereotype isn’t necessarily true.
Because of this thinking, many pastors struggle with being an introvert. I know I do!
Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t always like being around people. I can also feel guilty because I would rather read for a sermon than make phone calls. But is being an introvert really all that bad?
5 Myths of Introverted Pastors
1. You are either an introvert or an extrovert.
Wrong. There is no such thing as somebody who is all introvert, or all extrovert. There are introverts who enjoy the occasional big party and extroverts who like to get alone with a good book.
Some introverts are more introverted than others. So the question isn’t “are you an introvert,” but “how introverted are you?
TIP: Rank your level of introversion on a scale of 1 to 10. (1 meaning, “Silence is nice,” and 10 being “Human interaction scares me!”) How introverted are you? I would put myself at a solid 5. Doing this is important, because when you understand how you are wired, you can focus on your strengths and lean on others to help with weaknesses.
2. Introverts are socially awkward.
True… sometimes. Some introverts are awkward. But I have also met awkward extroverts that can’t keep their mouth shut and share way too much information.
Introverts are not necessarily bad in social situations. Social events simply de-energize them. As a result, introverts have to work harder to be good socially.
TIP: Before big social events, prep yourself. Make a list of questions you might want to ask people. How was your week? What are your plans this summer? How are you kids? How is the wife? Did you watch the game?
This trick has been a huge help for me. Every week I make a list of 10 questions to help me not stand in awkward silence because I cannot think of anything to say. You can laugh at me for it, but it helps. Give it a shot.
3. Introverts make bad preachers.
False. Introverts actually make up some of the best preachers. Extroverts are tempted to wing it more. Introverts will naturally be more studied, planned, and calculated in their approach.
Early on in ministry an extrovert will seem more comfortable and more of a natural on stage. But if an introvert works hard to manage stage fright and let their personality show, they become a double threat. Good stage presence and well prepared.
Besides, many well-known preachers admit to being introverts.
TIP: Stage fright is normal. Don’t let it get the best of you. The more you preach, the better you will get. But you may have to practice letting go. Loosen up on stage. Practice gestures and eye contact. Internalize your message so you aren’t chained to a script.
Being an introvert is not an excuse for being stiff and boring. You just have to work harder.
4. Introverts are bad at making disciples.
False. Introverts may not have as large a network of “friends,” but they are often better at one-on-one relationships. They may not personally disciple as many people, but the ones they do disciple will be deeper.
TIP: Follow Jesus’ model. Pour your life into deep relationships with a few disciples. Then, release them to impact others.
5. Introverts don’t love people.
Wrong again. Introverts often have extremely deep and loving relationships. But their relational circles are usually smaller, and because they are not as outgoing they can be mistaken as uncaring (often by extroverts who don’t get introverts).
An Introverts capacity for people they can fully invest in is lower. But, as mentioned above, their relationships with their close circle are deeper, and not as superficial as some extroverts could be accused of.
TIP: Find ways to show people you care. You cannot have the deep one-on-one relationships that you desire with everyone. Find other ways to express pastoral love. Visit people in the hospital. Send cards on birthdays and anniversaries. Write thank you notes like crazy. Memorize names. It’s little things like these that make a big difference.
6. (Bonus myth) Introverts are shy.
Being introverted and being shy are two completely different things. Being shy is worrying too much about the opinions of others. Being an introvert is a personality type that is energized by solitude and reflection.
If you struggle with shyness, you have fear of man issues. You put more stock in what people think than what God thinks. (Confession: I struggle with this all the time!)
Is Being an Introvert Really that Bad?
All this goes to say, being an introvert isn’t all bad. You actually have many strengths that extroverts wish they had. It may take some focus and learning to get the hang of being a good pastor. But don’t allow the “introvert” label to define you. Learn how to make it work to your advantage.
Many extroverts could learn a thing or two from introverts as well.
If you have time, check out this fascinating TED Talk Video from Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Can’t see the video? Click here.