5 Ways This Introvert Responds at a Social Gathering

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It’s the holiday season again. I love the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I really do.

But, for us introverts, it can also be a very difficult season. We are far more likely to be placed in awkward, uncomfortable situations.

People have a hard time believing I am introverted. Certainly I’m not on Sunday.  I intentionally try to meet as many people as possible. And, I have plenty experience in extroverted environments. I’ve even served in public office. I can work a room if I need to do so. 

Introversion is a personality based on preferences. It’s how someone is wired by life. We don’t simply choose to be introverted. We are programmed that way in our core personality.

So, knowing this time of year can be uncomfortable at times, I thought recently about how I respond in social settings where I’m not the host or where I don’t know most everyone in the room.

This may not be true for all introverts, but it is for me. I had this discussion with a fellow introvert. He said he just avoids all parties this time of year. I don’t want to do that, but knowing my reaction will hopefully keep me from hiding out in my personality and missing fun I really do often want to have.

Here is my typical response:

Find the corner – I look for a place away from the crowds to adjust to that space. I do this before even looking around to see who is in the room. I’ve been told, “I waved at you when you entered the room”, but I didn’t see you. I promise. I wasn’t even looking yet.

Survey the room – After a pause, this is when I finally begin to process who is in the room. Who do I know? Where’s the “safe” place to begin conversation? It’s usually with people I somewhat know and can easily begin conversation.

Spot the extroverts - It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them. Possibly they are some of the ones I most want to talk to, but I need time to “warm up” first. Many times these people launch into heavy conversation as soon as an introvert hits the door. The thought that this might happen is many times one of our biggest fears…and a main reason we avoid the social gathering altogether.

Look for an opportunity - When can I best break into a conversation? Many times if I can get started I’m good. Getting started is the hardest part. I won’t interrupt. Introverts typically don’t do that. We are gentleman (and gentlewomen) communicators.

Decide whether or not to move forward – At this point, I will either make the best of it…and many times have a great time if I do…or flame out early…or never ignite at all. It’s sad, but true. I’ve gone through this routine countless times only to spend a few minutes at a gathering before exiting as quickly as possible.

So, introverts, let’s not miss the parties we want to attend this year. If you want to stay home…great. But, I am committing not to allow my introversion to stop me. I’ll do this by disciplining myself to attend, adjust, and engage.

Here’s to a more extroverted Christmas for this introvert! I’ll just take more naps during this season…recover energy in my introversion…and go at it again.

Help me out introverts, because whenever I post about this extroverts accuse me of all kinds of things.  (That’s why I wrote THIS POST). If you’re an extrovert and want to know how to better engage with introverts, read THIS POST.

Introverts, any other ways you respond in these type settings?

Are any of these true for you?

10 of my favorite John F. Kennedy Quotes

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Obviously, John F. Kennedy spoke many memorable quotes. As with any leader of significance, I knew there were probably some statements that are lesser known, but are meaningful. In fact, in light of what we know now, some may even be more relative today. (I discovered these with simple Google searches and several sites attributed these to JFK.) If Twitter had been around, some of these would have been retweeted and favorited.

Here are 10 of my favorite John F. Kennedy quotes:

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.

We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it.

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Do you have a favorite JFK quote?

The Transition of a Founder: Handing off the Reigns

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Starbucks Howard Schultz had to return to the helm at Starbucks. Apparently, according to numerous reports, he tried to leave, but came back to attempt to reverse the suffering the company experienced. Dell’s Michael returned to help steer Dell back to health. Steve Jobs once returned to Apple. Other companies, who have founder with lesser known names, have seen their founding fathers return to the helm of leadership. Companies like Sun Microsystems, Novell, and Vonage saw founders return. They all returned to help the company succeed again. In some of these cases things were never the same after the return, but my point is they were forced to return to the companies they founded.

I have a theory.

Companies today will face this dilemma more than companies founded in years past.

Could it be that because companies today begin with such an imprint of their founder in their DNA that it is becoming more difficult to pass the reigns of the top spot to another person? Study Starbucks and you have to study Howard Schultz. (He even wrote a book about it.) Look at Dell computers and you see Michael Dell all over the company philosophy. Even today, as he is trying to rebrand the company that holds his name with a newer identity, his personality appears to drive the process. Companies today are very much an impression of their founders. Google’s corporate “fun” environment apparently IS Larry Page. Every time I’ve heard Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, interviewed he describes the social network with a passion that only a founder could exhibit.

Companies are launching into their niche faster than ever before. The information age and technology allows for growth at a pace unknown in previous generations. Much of that growth is a direct reflection on the personality and passions of the founder who is seen in the public as the chief representative of the company. Social media fuels that even faster. I’m not sure building around a personality has been the case as extreme as it seems to be today.

As I view this phenomenon within corporate America, I can’t help but wonder if there are implications for churches as well.

Doesn’t Northpoint have the personality of Andy Stanley? Lifepoint certainly embodies the imprint of Craig Groeschel.

What will happen when these leaders attempt to retire? The answer to that question remains to be seen. I have no doubt these two mentioned are thinking about those issues, but are their lesser known counterparts? We certainly are planting lots of churches. And, that’s a good thing.

But, certainly also, we are planting many churches today that share their DNA with the founding pastor. The world of social media elevates the role of the founder in churches too. People follow leaders…personalities. We can agree Jesus is to be that personality…it is Him we are to follow…but even still, society tends to look for individual leadership to follow these days. Hopefully, those churches are preparing to be churches that will last for years to come.

This thought process encourages a few things churches (and organizations) may want to consider in their beginning years:

  • We must be thinking transition of the founder from the founding.
  • We must be careful not to elevate people or personalities over a vision.
  • Whenever possible, we may want to consider easing a leader out gradually, rather than allowing a fast exit of the founder.
  • We must make sure our visions are easily transferable, if we want the church (or organization) to exist long-term.

As with most posts, I don’t have all the answers. I’m, hopefully, just triggering thoughts.

What are yours?

If I Were Going to Start a Blog Today

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If I were starting a blog today…I’d do things differently than when I started this one.

I’d be offline for at least 30 days.

Maybe longer.

If I had enough patience…maybe several months.

And, I’d write…just write.

As much or as often as I felt like it.

I’d sharpen my craft.

I’d build a great blog platform (I have to have help with that part.)

I’d read other blogs and gain ideas.

I’d develop some outlines or themes for future posts.

I’d discover my unique voice…what I’m most passionate about writing.

I’d build up a pool of great posts.

But, I wouldn’t release them until I knew I was ready. At least 30 days. Maybe longer.

Then I’d release them at whatever interval I plan to post. (Daily, several times a week, weekly, etc.)

Why?

It would give me an arsenal of posts. I’d have some ready to go and then be able to concentrate of future posts. I’d be thankful to have the margin.

It would give me practice. I would know that I’d need to be able to write frequently if I were going to make blogging work long term. Audiences take time to develop. This would also discipline me to build my blogging muscles.

Here’s what I know now. Most people start a blog, but never continue. This would test my commitment and ability to sustain myself as a blogger. If I were going to start a blog today, I’d first want to make sure I was in it long enough to build my voice.

That’s what I’d do.

How Rumors Spread…

Colleagues interacting

I’m telling you stuff I wouldn’t tell anyone else. I would appreciate you not sharing it. I’m not one to spread rumors.

That was from the guy behind Cheryl and me at a ball game recently. Loud talker guy.

I thought to myself, “That’s exactly how rumors start.” 

In fact, I probably should have said…

“No. You would never spread a rumor. But, you will talk loud enough for everyone around you to hear what you are sharing. About someone. That you probably had no business sharing…even if you were a soft talker. ”

They discussed business, politics and the church. No bases were left untouched. And people were trashed with no opportunity to defend themselves.

But don’t worry loud talker. I’m safe. I won’t share anymore about Bob and all his problems with Tim or what a low life Wayne is because of the way he’s treated Sam.

You’re “non rumors” are safe with me.

(Names have been changed to protect the accused guilty.).

Moral of the story here. And, it applies to all of us…even pastors and bloggers.

Rumors spread because people share them.

And, I’m not angry, even if I sound like I am. Especially not at loud talker. Sadly, he was being no different than many of our conversations. He was just loud enough to get caught. (But, he should lower his voice. :) )

This guy didn’t necessarily anger me. Individually, he would have almost been funny…if it weren’t such a serious issue.

You see, I’ve seen the damage rumors cause. I’ve witnessed individual’s reputations destroyed by rumors. I’ve known rumors to divide a church. Satan uses rumors to spread lies.

So, rumors anger me. It’s sin. Shouldn’t it anger us all? And, at some level we can all be guilty.

Let’s do our part to stop the spread. And, the way to do that is not to share them.

You may now want to read 7 Ways to Stop Gossip or listen to my sermon message on addressing gossip HERE.

How long do I spend editing a blog post?

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On my recent post “How a blog post becomes reality…” I shared ways I’m able to blog almost daily and keep bringing new topics to the blog.

One of the comments asked a great question in blogging today.

Could you give insight into how long you spend editing a post on average? 

Probably not long enough.

  • I normally edit as I go,…
  • Do a quick edit after it’s written…
  • Then right before it goes out in the morning I read over it again (sometimes this is as I walk the dog)…
  • and then often the best “catch” edit is just after it’s gone live. (Wish that was different, but it’s true.)

That’s my total process.

I am not a great editor, because I naturally read for content more than detail, but my total editing time is fairly minimal. I have actually caught errors in a post that has been live for months…even more than a year…when someone brings an old post back to my attention.

Occasionally, if I think a post has special implications…will be popular or could be misinterpreted…I’ll have my wife edit before it goes live.

Bottom line for me. I’m not editing at the level some would expect me to be. A single post on average has less than 15 minutes editing on average.

One thing I have observed is that blogging seems to have played a part in changing the demand for editing. So has all online writing. The fast environment…the desire to get an idea to “print” seems to overrule the need for perfection.

I realize this is a real problem for some people who are especially close readers, but it appears to impact book publishing also. Again, I am not a close reader, yet even I have found typos in a few books I’ve read in the last few years. I found one in a newer Bible I received. I have seen typos in some of the better blogs I read. And, some of the better bloggers have found typos in my blog. I’ve had others tell me they’ve discovered the same in books. Certainly, to me, it seems the modern digital era…texting for example…has lowered the demand for good editing.

I’m not sure the right balance. Being perfectly edited or getting an idea expressed. For me, I want to be edited enough to not be obnoxious to the average reader. I don’t want to consistently make the same mistakes. I want to do some editing. But, I want my time mostly spent on writing…not editing.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Have you seen a decline in good editing? Does it bother you?  Is it more important to get an idea online or make sure what’s online is perfect first?

Weigh in and…feel free to edit this post.

Unconditional Love Can Change the World

This is a guest post by my good friend Ben Stroup. Ben is a writer and consultant. His latest project with former American Idol finalist Danny Gokey will be released by NavPress in October 2013. Ben and his wife, Brooke, have two boys, Carter and Caden, and live just outside Nashville, Tennessee.

Unconditional Love Can Change the World

Unconditional love is not necessarily the first topic that comes up for ministry leaders. There are much more important things to do. Events to plan. Bible studies to lead. Sermons to preach. Staff to lead. Yet for a topic many are quick to comment on from the platform, we rarely give much thought to its significance in the ultimate juggling act we call ministry leadership.

Love without condition may be the most impossible thing we can imagine. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up. And some might even question whether or not it even exists.

But we must believe that it does.

If it doesn’t exist, then we must also question our own motives and intentions. If nothing can be done out of self-less care for another human being, then everything is done for our own gain.

That means our life commitment to ministry leadership is nothing more than a hat tip to the people we claim to serve and an all-consuming act of self-directed worship of ourselves and our talents, skills, and abilities.

I choose to believe that love without condition exists because I can’t live in a world without it.

Unconditional love is one of the most powerful forces of change given to God’s people to carry out through God’s church. It is the fuel that will bring about not only revival but also total transformation.

Unconditional love heals the broken, empowers the timid, affirms the hesitant, and elevates those who have been overlooked, forgotten, and silenced. There is a power that comes to those who show and to those who receive unconditional love. Those who show this love are released from being consumed with themselves. Those who receive this love are released from limitations others have placed on them.

The challenge for those who lead God’s church is to find ways for Christ-followers to show and receive the kind of love that exists without condition. This is hard to do in a world full of broken promises and shattered dreams.

But this is the gift we have been given and the role we have been called to play.

Too often we excuse ourselves from opportunities to embody unconditional love because we are convinced we aren’t smart enough, mature enough, experienced enough, or rich enough to make a significant impact. That simply isn’t true. You have everything you need right now to show unconditional love toward someone else

Unconditional Love is not a challenge for the future but now. It is not something we can wait to do but is something we must initiate right now. You can be an agent of change.

Choosing to recklessly share unconditional love with others in the same way God has done for us will change you and the people you reach.

How can you help the people in your church discover love without condition?

Buy the book HERE. Read a sample chapter of the book HERE.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE TRAILER from LifeWay Films on Vimeo.

Things That Happen Only With Time

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Some things take time…

Building trust

Making a true friend

Bonding with a child for life

Listening well

Creating a solid marriage

Recovering from a major loss

Ingraining personal discipline

Overcoming the power of an addiction

Becoming an expert

Developing a close walk with God

In our fast food, microwave world, some things can’t be rushed. Take time for the things that matter most.

What else takes time?

5 Alternatives to Gossip

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This is a guest post by Matt Mitchell, a local church pastor and the author of Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue a new book on a topic about which I care deeply.

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So, you don’t want to gossip, right? If you’re like me, you don’t want to fall into a pattern of sinful gossip because you know how hurtful and harmful it can be and how much God hates it.

But it’s not always that easy to resist, is it? The Bible says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8, 26:22). The choice morsels are those little bits of food that are hard to say “No” to and, once swallowed, have a lasting effect on our hearts.

One of the chief reasons why it’s hard to resist gossip is that we often can’t see any alternatives.

I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone say, “But if we didn’t gossip, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about!” Of course, that is not true. But it often feels as if it is.

Everybody around us is doing it. Talking about others behind their back is fun and exciting. Gossip is juicy and attractive, and it just doesn’t feel like we have a lot of options.

In Resisting Gossip, I dedicate two whole chapters to planning alternative strategies for when we get into potential gossip situations.

Here are five good ones:

1. Say Nothing At All

As the saying goes, “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.” Silence can be golden. Proverbs 17 says, “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (17:27-28).

Abraham Lincoln put it this way: “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let them think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” This rule of thumb goes not just for face-to-face talking but also for texting, messaging, emailing and every other kind of communication through which gossip could flow.

2. Commend the Commendable

Often we can do even better than silence. We can say something good. Offer encouragement, commendation, affirmation and approving words. If we are tempted to talk about someone, then we should talk about that person’s good points.

Don’t lie. Do not commend something that is not commendable, but in most situations, we can find something positive to share instead. The next time you are tempted to gossip about someone, talk about how good that individual is. That is what Jesus’ Golden Rule implies. Speak about people in the way you would want them to speak about you.

I get this phrase “commend the commendable” from Sam Crabtree’s book Practicing Affirmation. In one chapter entitled “100 Affirmation Ideas for Those Who Feel Stuck,” Crabtree offers a terrifically long list of options. We can do this!

3. Talk to People, Not About Them

When there is a problem between us and another person, the overwhelming temptation for us is to run to just about anybody other than the one with whom we have the conflict. The way forward in conflict, however, is not to talk about the other person but to talk to the person in love. Jesus says, “First go and be reconciled to your brother” (Matt. 5:24).

Did someone offend you at church? Talk to him about it. Did a co-worker hurt your feelings in a meeting? Bring it up with her. Did your parents’ recent decision mess up your plans? Take it up with them.

Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, had this rule for managing conflicts at her mission station: “Never about, always to.” Conflicts are fanned into flame when we talk about people, but they can be resolved when we talk directly to the person with whom we have the problem.

4. Offer Words of Mercy

Ephesians 4:29 says that our words should build up others “according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Proverbs says, “The lips of the righteous nourish many” (10:21).

I have a friend who is that kind of person. Dan always has something good to say, even when there is not much good to talk about. He’s not afraid to confront someone in love when they are offensive, but he goes above and beyond the call of duty and encourages the people he’s confronting! He’s the first person I call when I have a problem, not just because he is wise but because he is nourishing. He uses merciful words, and people love to be around him. Dan is what I call “a party waiting to happen,” because he’s so full of grace.

You and I don’t have to say everything we think. In fact, we can be merciful because our heavenly Father is merciful (see Luke 6:36). Often we can do better than just staying quiet or even commending the commendable. We can go the extra mile and speak words of grace.

5. Practice Avoidance

Proverbs says, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (20:19). Don’t go near a gossiper. Walk on the other side of the street. Get away from that person. You and I might even need to skip out on some social situations if we know that all we will hear in them is sinful gossip. It might be a sacrifice, but it might also be worth it.

Sometimes we cannot avoid a person who gossips, simply because of our relationship to them. They are our mothers, sisters, brothers, co-workers, and fellow church members. In cases like these, we need to avoid not the person but the topic. We need to redirect conversations, if we can, to avoid the gossip in them. It’s not wrong to push a conversation in a new direction.

That may sound a bit sneaky, but it is really just shepherding a conversation and acting as a leader. The Bible says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Prov. 26:20). Just removing the gossip can change the temperature in a room.

Of course, these five strategies are impossible for us to successfully follow without the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s make it our prayer today that He would navigate us through the treacherous waters of everyday gossip with godly alternatives.