7 Pitfalls of Being an Introverted Pastor

I am an introvert. From all public appearances on Sunday morning that surprises many people, but in my private life and with those closest to me there is no questioning of that fact. If anything, I have become even more introverted the larger our church has grown. I can wish I was otherwise, but this is how I am wired. Being an introvert has its downsides as a pastor.

Here are 7 pitfalls of being an introverted pastor:

  • People often think I’m arrogant, aloof or unfriendly. I’m a lot of negative things. Those are not really the main three. I sometimes have to go back and apologize once I hear someone thinks I avoided them. This happens especially with extremely extraverted people.
  • I hesitate to make the connections I should sometimes and miss opportunities to build my network.
  • I’m worn out after a long day of talking and need time alone to rejuvenate, which can impact my family time if I’m not careful. It also leads to people at the end of the day telling me I look tired…guess what? I am!
  • Crowded rooms, which I love in terms of reaching people for Christ, are actually intimidating to me as a person.
  • I’m not as quick-witted when in crowds and sometimes appear awkward on first impressions when I try to be.
  • I realize the need to talk with people…it’s what I do, but wrestling through the introverted tendencies actually adds even more stress to my life.
  • If I’m not careful, and thankfully I’m fairly disciplined here, I will close out people from really knowing me, which subjects me to all kinds of temptations, anxiety and even depression.

How’s that for transparency?

Are you an introvert? Do you see how it impacts your work?

(In THIS POST I share how I handle being an introvert without injuring my ministry.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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81 thoughts on “7 Pitfalls of Being an Introverted Pastor

    • Oh, I disagree completely. I didn't choose this one. It's a call. And, thank you very much, God has blessed me greatly in this calling.

  1. I began in ministry forty years ago and it wasn't until I was in ministry that I realized how much of an introvert I am. I used to struggle with it but eventually I stopped and just accepted myself as I am. I'm never going to become an extrovert, even though I function best before a large congregation on Sunday morning. And over the years I have been surprised how many other introverts are in ministry. But God knows what he is doing. There are some things I find difficult in ministry, like pastoral visitation, but put me before a crowd and I do fine, and when it's done I go back to my introverted self. But I love ministry.

  2. I have struggled for most of my ministry with these things not these issues not fully understanding I was an introvert. Thanks so much for putting this into words. My members sometime scoff at me when I tell them I am an introvert, as they dont think a Pastor can be an introvert. Again thanks for this blog post.

  3. Thanks Ron. I feel EXACTLY like that and wonder why God ever put a person like me in the position of pastor. I truly love people, but I have often felt misunderstood because I’m horrible in one on one situations. I feel the pressure to be outgoing, fun, and conversational but it is a struggle for me. Your post was an encouragement because it seems like most of the pastors I know are extroverts and seem to have an easier time in ministry than me.

    • You'll be on your knees more…or more dependently, than some pastors who can “work the congregation” easier than you…but that's a good thing!

  4. I can relate to your description of an introvert, being an introvert myself. I have had people think that I am too serious and with a sense of being unapproachable. But once they get to know me more, they change their idea and have share those thoughts with me.

  5. seems most pastors are introverts, maybe that is why they are so threatened by a skilled people person, who has more ability to influence a greater amount of people without losing their energy as quickly………relax and allow the "people persons" to help you…..quit firing "outgoing associate pastors" who you think might be "undermining" and "developing a following" that threatens your leadership…..relax……the church is not only for the introverted, scholarly types who come out of their steeples after hearing from God……

  6. Thanks. I’m right there with you. We need to start an introvert club, where we all agree to get together at a certain place and certain time, with the full knowledge that when we all arrive, we will each go off into a corner and read a book.

  7. As a shy, introverted new worship leader, I find your posts encouraging. Church leadership often calls for a lot of extroversion, and I am working on coming out of my shell more and more! Number seven is SO true, I recently realized that in my quietness that I forget that while I may know people, not as many know me as well. I have to remember to speak ha! Thank you for blogging and sharing your insights!

  8. Before I was a Christian I seemed to be an extravert. But now I seem to be an introvert. I can relate to this article. Even though I am NOT shy and have a heart to evangelize, I seem to want to keep to myself and be away from the crowd. I would assume it to be the other way around. When I was an unbeliever I should of been the introvert, then after I was saved I became the extravert …. But it wasn't that way. I have to look at it this way …. The LORD knows what HE is doing when it comes to making us into what HE wants us to be. I loved this article because its shows that I am not alone. — Joey Basta / Building Others Up … http://BuildingOthersUp.Wordpress.com

  9. Thanks for sharing these. You sound a little more disciplined in this than I am. I am a missionary in Germany and am so glad I realize that I am introverted and not just what other people thought I was.

    Not even knowing about being introverted 10 years ago hurt any ministry that I attempted.

    Thanks to people like you and Adam McHugh who are a voice for us introverts and how we can better handle ministry.

  10. I'm not a pastor – pretty well exactly because of the seven pitfalls you describe.

    You're a brave man, Mr Edmondson…

  11. This certainly describes me. I'm 29, and have been a Senior Pastor for just 2 years. I've hoped that I would somehow outgrow my introvertedness as ministry continued because I fear missing the opportunities to build important relationships and also evangelism comes harder to me naturally.

    • God will use you in different and unique ways, and give you the strength to overcome weaknesses as needed. Of course, being an introvert is not a weakness as much as a personality, but it certainly can be viewed that way. I'm 46 and if anything I've become more defined as an introvert than anything. Thanks!

  12. I'm not a pastor but am an introvert. It's hard to be social and talk with those around me, it's like awkward and uncomfortable sometimes. I can agree with what you said in your post, it's gotta be hard being a pastor and an introvert.
    Twitter: tijuanabecky

  13. I'm with Herb. I saw myself in every single point. It makes me feel sometimes like I'm the wrong person for this job, but I know those are just feelings and I have to trust Him. I know I'm not alone, but it's nice to have such insightful confirmation. Thanks Ron.

    • I certainly understand that emotion…but then I'm reminded how God often chose people to operate outside of where they felt they were equipped….

      It always gives Him glory!

      Thanks!

  14. You've hit on a common theme among Pastors, especially as highlighted by the comments. I had a guy with a PhD in Psychology tell me that he could tell I was an introvert partly because of how comfortable I seemed speaking in front of larger crowds. He had zeroed in on the fact that introverts can often pull off a speech because they don't have to "face" just one person.

    There are some advantages to being an introvert. You have far less of a tendency to jump in and say stupid things or come across as arrogant. Many people find it easier to trust an introvert.

    We ought to have a club.

    • Thanks Brandon. Yes, someone messaged me on Twitter about the large audience thing. It's an odd paradox. I don't mind speaking to large crowds…I think because I remain in control…very weird…

      Your benefit is actually on my list for tomorrow! Thanks for the work you are doing online.

  15. Thank you for sharing such an insightful posting. I am an extravert and tend to have a very short attention span. You posting will help me be sensitive to the introverts in and around my life. Thanks again for being so transparent.

  16. Yes, I'm an introvert. And normally I don't plug my own blog on other people's but did just finish a 3 part series on post on being an introverted leader. Despite it's pitfalls I think the 21st Century will be the rise of the introverted leader. The ability to focus – withdraw from the noise and dig deeper into problems – will be an asset in our fast pace world.

    It definitely affects my work. I'm careful to schedule downtime at work and personal time to recharge. My job is more conducive to our extroverted counterparts.

    I find it interesting that most bloggers I'm following are introverts. Like I said this is the century for introverts!

  17. Ron, thanks for the post. I relate to each of those so very well. I have always admired those that can be "witty" at the spur of a moment. In my own self evaluation I recognize point number 2 very well. I will be curious to see how you have dealt with these areas and "forced" yourself to be able to be viewed as someone that is very outgoing.

  18. Well let me say you do an excellent job of disguising that trait in communicating so honestly & graciously to everyone on-line.
    I do know too it takes a lot of LOVE for people, inner strength & mental determination to open up & be free with discuss deep & sensitive issues with just anyone — but you obviously care more about all of us than your own feelings.
    I can relate a lot to what you say about being misunderstood too – sometimes I've been misjudged & considered a little snobby when really I felt too inadequate to join in a conversation – like anything that seems difficult I just try harder. I even had to think twice whether I felt knowlegeable enough to comment on this post – I kind of forced myself, if I think too hard I wouldn't have.
    Thank you for being so HONEST and OPEN to admit this to us – it just makes us respect you even more (as if that was possible)!!!

  19. When I read this I thought, "Is this me he's talking about?" Seriously, this describes me. It does impact me. I find that if I don't get away just for a bit, it really will drain me. As silly as it sounds, sometimes, if I don't have a lot of time to get a way and regroup, I go to the restroom and wash my face and re-compose.

    Look forward to tomorrow's post.