IVP - Online Pulpit - The Gifted Introvert

November 1, 2012

The Gifted Introvert

The church tends to favor the extrovert. From greeters to volunteers to leadership, the outwardly eager and overtly friendly are often chosen. It is easy to support natural gifts when they are plainly seen.

But what does the church do to draw out and pursue the introverted? As congregations grow and leadership changes, who is taking the time to bring out the gifts of the quiet but internally supportive and passionate introverts among us?

Adam McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church and an introverted pastor, writes that God is working in the hearts of all of us and that the gifts of the introverted can bring a balance to the body:

introvertsCoverOP.jpg“My struggles to be an introverted pastor are representative of the struggles many introverts face when navigating the waters of Christian community, which can be unintentionally, or intentionally, biased toward extroversion. As a pastor who has participated in both independent and denominationally affiliated churches, it is my experience that evangelical churches can be difficult places for introverts to thrive, both for theological and cultural reasons. Just as I have had a difficult time squaring my own temperament with common roles and expressions of the pastoral ministry, so also many introverted Christians struggle with how to find balance between their own natural tendencies and evangelical perspectives on community and evangelism. A subtle but insidious message can permeate these communities; a message that says God is most pleased with extroversion.

“Fortunately, disappointment has not been my only fellow traveler on this road, but I have also been accompanied by hope: hope in the calling, healing and transformative power of God. My journey has not been guided by my own heroism or impressive displays of faithfulness, but by God’s sovereignty. The same mysterious force that seemed to prevent me from depositing my resignation has also been a constant voice calling me into church ministry, parachurch ministry and chaplaincy. God is bringing me through a process of self-acceptance, both in terms of my introvert identity and also in terms of the gifts and contributions I bring to the Christian community.

“My hope is that God will begin or continue a process of healing introverts—helping them find freedom in their identities and confidence to live their faith in ways that feel natural and life-giving, the way that God intended. I want introverts to embrace that ‘you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God’ (Eph 2:19). Further, I hope that God will unlock in introverts the tremendous gifts that they have to bring to the church. Introverts have a set of qualities that contribute widely to the ministry of the church and to the building up of the body of Christ. When the church is led by introverts and extroverts who partner together, each contributing their strengths and offsetting the others’ weaknesses, it is a testimony that the Holy Spirit is orchestrating the community, that it is not being run by the cult of personality.”

Adam McHugh, Introverts in the Church (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2009), pp. 12-14.

Posted by Nate Baker-Lutz at November 1, 2012 10:40 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed for this entry.