7 Ways I Work with Introversion to Protect My Ministry

I posted recently 7 pitfalls of being an introverted pastor. (You can read that post HERE.) In that post I indicated I would share how I address each of these pitfalls to keep them from adversely impacting my ministry.

Here are 7 ways I work with my introversion to protect my ministry:

  • I discipline myself to be extraverted on Sunday mornings. Years ago, in my first full-time church, an elderly deacon pulled me aside and said, “Son, if you will make these people feel welcome, they’ll be more likely to return.” I realized that it wasn’t enough to preach a good message, I needed to engage people on a personal level.
  • I try to handle correspondence by email as much as possible to cut down on verbal conversation. Just point of information, you will always get a deeper, more engaged answer from me if we are communicating online.
  • I see networking as a large part of my success in ministry. As a purpose-driven person, I’m more likely to do that which brings results. Networking has become a leadership value for me.
  • I try to capitalize on my strengths. There are some benefits to introversion. I think before I speak. I am less likely to put my foot in my mouth (although it still happens). I usually meant what I said. I am able to spend countless hours in my own thought world, which give me tons of ideas; which, by the way, is a big reason you see me online often.
  • My family knows who I am. I am very protective of family time, but they know that I need downtime before I can engage fully. They are respectful of this time, knowing it will be rewarded as we enjoy each other more when I am mentally rested.
  • I value my wife and her partnership in ministry even more! Cheryl is an extravert. She loves people and when she is with me I am much more comfortable in an extraverted setting.
  • Recognizing the need for people to be involved in my life beyond surface level for my protection and the protection of my family and ministry, I have consistently solicited and allowed a few men to know me into my heart and life who can hold me accountable.

Are you an introvert? How do you keep it from adversely impacting your ministry?

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32 thoughts on “7 Ways I Work with Introversion to Protect My Ministry

  1. Thank you for this article and all the comments. I've felt defeated in where I feel God calling me because I struggle with this so much. It's encouraging to look at ways to accept and work within my introversion, rather than beating myself up for it. I don't know if introversion and low energy tend to be found together much, but I think if I cut myself some slack and give myself permission to use solitude and quiet as tools in my ministry, my energy level may improve!

  2. First, let me say I enjoyed the post because it helps me realize I'm not so abnormal and that I'm okay as an introvert. In other words, I don't need to simply change to be more like an extrovert in order to be effective in ministry. Second, the ways I keep my introversion from negatively impacting my ministry and instead actually propelling it forward include, in addition to the ways you mentioned: 1.) Praying before every social interaction; 2.) Journal praying daily to sort of talk out my thoughts with God; 3.) Writing out my thoughts before talking with someone about them whenever possible; 4.) Reaching out to other introverts to let them know it's okay to be introverted; 5.) Reading a lot. This is my favorite way to be social even though the people aren't real or are not really with me. Thanks again!
    Twitter: KariScare

  3. Though I don't have a list, I just want to thank you for giving voice to the fact that introverts can be leaders: so often I'm 'accused' of being extraverted simply because I'm 'up front' — I'll be point them to these articles, now. And following your cues.

  4. INPF here! Before or after engagement, I need alone time to recharge (not the same as downtime). I, too, will engage much more and with much more depth if in writing. (My heart seems to leak more through my fingers than my mouth.).

  5. Yet another great article, just as your last article. I am an introvert myself but I used to be an extravert in the world. Doesn't make sense to me. I really relate when you say you try to discipline yourself. I do the same. I also like to go for long walks to think on things. Even though I want to be an encourager, I like to stay to myself and to be quiet. In a crowd I am usually the one sitting by myself away from everyone. It feels more comfortable there. I am now married and my wife is an extravert and she likes to be in the middle of the crowd taking control :) We make a great balance. But I do try to let myself out there and get involved. I think we all need times of extravert and times of introvert, times of engaging and times of peace, especially introvert moments with the Lord.

  6. I am in the ministry and am introverted. I am not sure if this is an introverted trait but I can at times (okay all the time) let people basically write my schedule for me. This is because I have a hard time speaking up and saying no or that I have something else to do (which may be sleeping).

    The problem is that I get resentful and upset and fume about it in private (which may not be if they ran across this comment). This is not healthy.

    How do you as an introvert draw the line on what happens with your time?

  7. My big stressors are phone calls (almost always feel like I come off as an idiot during them), and the lobby after services. I have to make myself approach people that I do not know well. That's why I am exhausted on Sunday afternoons. Great list Ron!

    • Thanks Chris. Somehow I knew you were an introvert. I am not much of a phone conversationalist either. I cringe at voice mails that say" please call me" especially if they don't tell me what they want.

  8. As a fellow introvert, I appreciate the reality of needing some alone time to "recharge batteries".

    What helps me is recognizing there are different types of vacations. Some are entertainment and others are for relational connection time. I greatly need the slow, spiritual, refreshing ones as well.

    If we try to mix them, we usually end up with a frustrating vacation.

  9. For me I try and piggy back off of groups. What I mean by that is people naturally congregate in smaller groups so I weave in and out of those at church. It appears as if I’m extroverted but really I’m staying in downsized groups not having to have prolonged awkward interaction it stays shallow, they feel touched. And they are understanding because “it’s Sunday we know you’re busy, I’ll Facebook you my question tomorrow.” I dont know about you but that is music to my ears!

  10. Thank you Jason…I'm with you on the email thing. My church calls me to, so I don't want to discourage all calls…since some are wired that way too…but I'll always give a better response when I can think about it. If the person requires verbal, then I'll usually say, "let me get back to you on that" rather than instantly responding. It allows me to gear up…

    That being said, one stressful thing for me to hear…or email to get…is one that says "give me a call and let's talk about it".

  11. I am so reflective in my thinking that I find phone conversations to be so difficult. And sometimes in the heat of the "say something" moment, I feel like I water things down or even misrepresent what I truly believe in an effort to comfort. That's why I much prefer email for most things. It's gotten me in trouble before because miscommunication is a real possibility there too, no matter how carefully you consider and craft responses.

    Anyway, great list. Glad you recognize these things and help me see what I'm doing right and things I need to work on. These two posts have sparked a lot of life in me so I appreciate it. Thank you, Ron.

  12. re: #4 – the flip side of this is letting the skills and strengths of others blossom. I was given some very good advice very early on in my professional life by someone mentoring me to take on leadership roles. The advice has served me very well and had the benefit of me being able to encourage younger leaders.

    Here's the advice:

    Do what you do well – for everything else add people to your team that do them better than you.

    Before hearing that, I was always told that I needed to be good at everything – false. Hope that contributes to the discussion here.

  13. Things I do:
    1. Own my time and protect my down time
    2. few but deep relationships that I hold all areas of my a life accountable to
    3. Boundaries & Balance are the biggest struggle. But if I have a day filled with lots of meetings I try to keep the next day free of meetings. If it's not possible, my weekends & nights become my down time to recoup. If ind I'm always looking at my schedule and adjusting.

    Social Networking provides a safe haven for introverts because we can control the amount of stimulation!

  14. Ron like you I find it easier to get Sue to deal with people at the door, and on the phone especially when it involves numbers, like computerized receptionists because I just get flustered.
    We are not sure what is going to happen over the next couple of months as far as ministry goes things seem to be happening to upset our balance at the moment but one thing that we also have in common is that I can come alive, so to speak, online of when typing the daily MMW Blog. I am free with this mask to interact with.
    We would appreciate if you could keep us in your prayer notes whenever the name comes up we need instruction and with what is going on at the moment it would be extremely easy to jump in and expect God to enable us in places where He might not plan for us to be. And for us that is nowhere, it is only right where He wants us
    Rgds Bj