The Challenge of the Introvert Pastor

Bob FranquizChurch, Leadership

I used to think there was something wrong with me.

I loved studying.

I loved preaching.

I loved people.

But after a Sunday of services and talking to people, I just wanted to go home and be alone.

I would talk to some of my pastor friends and they thought it was a bit odd.

I started to think maybe I didn’t care about people. Maybe I was one of those guys who loves teaching crowds, but doesn’t love individuals.

It was around that time I took a Myers-Briggs personality profile.

When the results came back, I learned what I had felt all my life… I was an introvert.

I’ve learned that lots of pastors are introverts. In fact, an introverted personality suits much of pastoral ministry well.

Most pastors spend much of their week studying alone. Our circle is generally small (even if you have a large staff). I’ve also discovered the misconceptions associated with being an introvert.

In fact, let’s talk about 4 of them…

#1 – Don’t act like a jerk and blame your introverted personality

I see this happen all the time. Guys are rude or curt and then say, “Well, I’m just an introvert.” Sorry. You’re just a jerk if you’re disrespectful to people.

Being an introvert has nothing to do with your like or dislike of people. It has to do with where you get energized. If you’re an introvert, that means solitude energizes you. If you think that means you can speak rudely to people, you’re just an immature leader.

#2 – Learn the Art of Small Talk

My wife pointed this out to me. I didn’t know how to have small talk with people from the church I’d run into after services or at the supermarket. I would just stand there with a weird look on my face that looked like a cross between confusion and pain.

If you’re someone’s pastor, they want you to be interested in what’s happening in their lives. You need to learn to have basic conversations with people you don’t know very well. For someone people, this is easy. For introverts, this is a learned skill.

#3 – Bring an Extrovert with you

I love hanging out with extroverts. They take the pressure off. If I know I’m going to be in a situation with lots of people, having an extrovert with me helps me be more talkative.

#4 – Understand Yourself

Lastly, you need to understand your own rhythms as an introvert. This means you can’t book back-to-back-to-back appointments. You’ll drive yourself (and those around you) crazy.

Instead, you need to build in times of solitude for yourself so you can recharge.

This sounds odd to the raging extroverts reading this, but trust me, introverts need this.

There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. It’s how God wired us.

We simply need to learn how to manage our energy so we can serve our church well.