How do you process? This is the biggest difference between introverts and extroverts. Do you process things internally or verbally? Yes, we all do a little of both but most people usually lean to one of the two sides.
I know that I am more of an introvert and it’s just recently that I have come to understand all that that means. So many times, introverts can be misunderstood and labeled as quiet, shy, slow or even out of touch with reality. Sometimes even our own families can misread us. This can be a frustrating thing and it may take a long time before we fully understand that the way that we were made is not odd or weird. It seems that we live in such an extroverted society. Is it just me, or does it seem to be becoming more that way? Even with jobs. I have read a lot of job descriptions lately that really cater to the extroverted personality. I have worked many jobs in my life so far and have recently realized that all of them have been jobs made for extroverts. I’m not saying that as an introvert we cannot do these jobs, I am just saying that we need to be prepared for the rapid energy depletion that may occur while working them. It all comes down to learning about ourselves and the balance that we need in our own lives. What energizes us? What drains us? How can we maintain that balance so that we can be the best that we can be?
I am a very adventurous person and I love people and I very much enjoy leading them and helping them grow. But I do this in my own way. I have found myself in jobs such as coaching, teaching, sales and a list of others where some of my main requirements were to be “outgoing, facilitative, enthusiastic and easily able to handle large groups of people”. What was I thinking?? Don’t get me wrong, though. These jobs definitely stretched me, taught me a lot and I am glad to have worked them for the time that I did. There is always room to grow and just because we know we are introverts does not give us an excuse to avoid situations that we can grow in. Like I was saying, we just need to know how to balance. In all of these situations, I found my role. I handled every situation in a way that worked for me. Like many introverts, I am most comfortable in one on one or small group situations where I can really get to know and care for people. I may not be the one up on stage being loud and crazy and getting everyone hyped, but if there is a person who needs to talk and needs someone to listen, who do you think they’d come to? I will be the one hanging out with the individuals and building the deep needed connections. That’s how I minister to people. Can you relate? Imagine a world without introverts? Whoa..
For a long time I was bitter with extroverts and just wondered, “can they ever just sit still and have a meaningful conversation?” But I have grown to love my extroverted friends and have a whole new understanding of the way that they do life. They process very differently and I definitely value the gifts that they offer in their personalities as well. Learning to understand ourselves more and embrace the differences in the people around us opens up so many amazing doors in our lives.
A good friend of mine, who is also an introvert, gave me a book that she said changed her whole perspective on introverts and extroverts. It is called “Introverts in the Church”. This book really changed my life and helped me define my role in many situations, understand more of my personality and where I fit in the church. The author, Adam McHugh is an introverted Pastor and he talks about the difficulties that he first went through and how he balances his time and energy. He also gives examples of introverts in the Bible and how they handled certain situations.
In the next few posts, I am going to be exploring the introverted ways of thinking and processing, balancing our time and energy, how we are best fit as leaders in our church and what we have to offer as part of the body of Christ.