If you are connected with King of Glory Lutheran in Shakopee, you can confidently say the title of this post is true. While it may come as a surprise to you, it is a reality that I have long known. First, let’s define “introvert.”
An introvert is someone who generally gets recharged by being alone. There is a t-shirt out there that says, “Introverts, Unite…Separately in Your Own Homes!” That statement captures well the essence of being an introvert. Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge by being with people. Introverts tend to be on the shy side, are unassuming, and quiet.
As one who has sensed the calling to be a pastor, I have wrestled with how my personality fits with a calling to be a “people-person.” Those around me have strongly encouraged me to fulfill the ministry to which God has called me. That has been my drive for a long time, but every now and then I wallow in the struggle. That struggle usually comes with a time of introspection. It is good to be thoughtful, but sometimes the thoughts tend toward the discouraging side. I have been doing some introspection lately. I even confided in a group of fellow pastors about my struggles in this area. They were extremely encouraging to me, reminding me of God’s grace through this battle. Now that I’ve come through that “valley,” I’d like to share some points with you regarding my introversion. It will give you a glimpse into my mind and heart and hopefully will help us grow together:
1) I struggle with initiating stuff
Hosting, planning, and carrying out of get-togethers are especially draining on me. I really struggle with inviting people to special events. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? I love that event and I love that person and I want that person to benefit from that event. What’s wrong? As an introvert, I often feel like I am bothering people. I need to keep reminding myself that I am not a bother (at least I hope not!!). As a pastor, I feel the need to promote and emphasize ministries. Perhaps I sometimes come across as not excited about a certain ministry. I have loved to join forces with others who are gifted in initiating. This is a reminder to me that one person cannot fulfill every aspect of ministry well. God has gifted all of us in different ways. Perhaps those of you who are good “initiators” can fill the gaps where I am weak.
2) I care deeply about people even though I’m not a “social butterfly”
An introverted pastor will most likely be found in a corner visiting with one person instead of floating around the fellowship hall. A pastor from my past exemplified this well. Though he seemed to not flutter around the room and be chummy with everyone, he was well-loved and respected. Sure, some people would like a pastor who can “talk your ear off” in conversations, but I’m afraid I won’t provide that as an introvert. But that does not mean that as a pastor I love you less than pastors who have that gifting. On the flip side, I have noticed that a strength of introverts is the ability to listen. In learning myself and how I work, I have tried hard to be a good communicator, a good listener, and good question-asker. Another thing I’ve noticed that I enjoy as a pastor who happens to be an introvert: people tend to approach me. By being a pastor I have a built-in benefit of people seeking me out to talk. That fits well with point number one above.
3) I will not use my tendency towards introversion as an excuse to not fulfill my duties as pastor.
I don’t want to appear that I am whining in this post. I am opening up myself to you and sharing what goes on in my mind and heart. Though I have certain strengths and weaknesses as an introvert, I refuse to use that as an excuse to avoid doing the tasks that seem hard to me. This weakness often leads me to pray, “Lord, give me strength and boldness to carry out this task.” And, I can confirm, God has been faithful to me. I have seen through the years how God has molded me and changed me. He has equipped me with what I need to serve in this role. Sure, it might mean that I need to crash after church in nap time by myself to rejuvenate. But, God gives me a love for His people, His flock that He has entrusted to me to shepherd. That is a great privilege and I will not hide behind my introversion. If it seems that I am, you are welcome to confront me.
It’s amazing to me that God uses me, and each of us, in our weaknesses. You know what? I believe extroverts can say the same thing. No matter how God has wired us, no matter what type of personality He has given us, all of us can say, “For when I am weak, You (God) are strong. For your power was perfected in my weakness.”