Sunday, December 16, 2007
But I'm particularly excited about the section in this chapter that looks at the gifts that introverts have to offer others. I'm not going to go into detail about these gifts, since I still want you to read my book, but here are some of the gifts I'm talking about:
2. Insight into the lives of others
3. Giving "space" and listening to others
7. Helping others slow down
Monday, December 10, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
What are the gifts that you think introverts bring to others?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Writing a book is more challenging and humbling and personally revealing than I ever imagined.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm going to fill all the empty spaces that my words have left behind with turkey.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
I talked to a friend yesterday who said that the gospel of John had been particularly profound in her introverted Christian experience. In contrast to a gospel like Mark, which moves quickly and has a lot of action, the gospel of John moves slower and pushes deeper into concepts and ideas.
What about you?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
How have you, as an introvert, felt excluded or included in your church? Has the church done anything to minister to/encourage introverts? Do you have any stories of feeling particularly included or excluded?
This question issues from a conversation I had a with co-worker last week. She regularly attended a Sunday night emerging-worship type service at a large mainline church. She is on the fence between introvert/extrovert on the Meyers Brigg. She said that the last three rows of the church were taken up by the introverts or shy folks, and they would sit with at least one seat in between. Everyone else, in the front 2/3 of the church, would sit in groups of friends. She said she had a particularly painful experience one night when they tried to do communion in a creative way. They invited people to come up to the front in groups, that the people chose themselves, to take communion together. She didn't know many people, and so rather than facing the awkwardness of introducing herself to strangers, she turned and left! And keep in mind she is an ordained minister!
Monday, October 29, 2007
"Introverts fear failure in public and experience deep humiliation because of it. If the teacher grabs you for a demonstration of a new skill or your spouse puts you on the spot to put a bicycle together it can be extremely stressful."
Do you other introverts relate to this? Is this a genuine description of introversion or is this a distortion of it, rooted in insecurity? I can relate to feeling uncomfortable when put on the spot to give my opinion, but only because I prefer to prepare for something like that. But I don't have a big fear of public failure and I certainly don't relate to the example of a "spouse putting you on the spot to put a bicycle together."
Separate Note: I have added labels to this blog. See right column.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
My wife is up in Sonoma with her girlfriends, enjoying the cool weather, color in the trees, wine, and great food, and I'm sitting here drinking french press and writing, while looking out my study window on the San Gabriel mountains. Honestly, I don't know who has the better weekend.
Cornball text message exchange:
My wife: The trees up here are red!
Me: So are the ones down here, because they're ON FIRE.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
So I'm soliciting your help, gentle introverted readers, for book title suggestions. I would like it to either have introvert in the title or at least in the subtitle, so anyone who searches on introvert on amazon will access it easily.
For a reminder, here are my chapters descriptions:
1. Introduction - personal narrative as an introvert and introverted pastor in the Church
2. The Problem of the Extroverted Church - chapter exposing the extroverted bias of the Church (I'm mostly addressing evangelical churches in this book)
3. What is an introvert? Straightforward.
4. Introverted Healing - finding peace in who God created us to be and talking about the gifts that introverts bring to the Church
5. Introverted Spirituality - how do I experience the spiritual life as an introvert?
6. Introverted Community - how do I fit into Christian community as an introvert?
7. Introverted Leadership - first chapter, exposing the extroverted bias of Christian leadership and demonstrating how introverts are able to swim against this tide; second chapter, practicals about how to lead as an introvert
8. Introverted Evangelism - I think you get it.
9. Suggestions for churches - Ideas for being more welcoming of introverts
Any ideas? I don't need a book title for a few months, so if you can't come up with one now, maybe you can think of one later. Thank you!
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Thanks to all of you who have supported this project and given me feedback. I am going to continue to use this space as a place to bounce ideas off of fellow introverts (and extroverts), so please keep reading and commenting. Some of you I will be emailing to set up interviews with. Please email me with lengthier suggestions and feedback.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Their website defines spiritual direction as "a contemplative process, carried out in the context of a helping relationship, in which one faith-filled person assists another to pay attention to God's action in the person's life and his/her response to this action."
It's a three year program, beginning with a couple of years of training about various strands of Christian spirituality and then some more practicum type settings in the last year. Last week my spiritual director asked me "What are your deepest longings?" And I responded that words like "spirituality" and "contemplation" speak to deep places of my soul. Spiritual direction training is a step towards satisfying this hunger.
I will talk more about this type of ministry in the months to follow, but I anticipate that spiritual direction will be a great setting for an introvert. Spiritual direction involves depth, listening, silence, and contemplation, all in the format of ongoing one-on-one relationships.
Monday, September 17, 2007
For those of you who are new to Introverted Church, I sent in a book proposal to a Christian publishing house back in June. Go here for the chapter outline of my idea. I always love feedback.
Friday, September 7, 2007
In my current position, I think I am developing a good partnership with the social worker on my team, who is definitely an extrovert. She has a great deal of energy and has much more output than I do on a weekly basis, but we have a mutual respect for what each other brings to the table. I'm the guy that can sit with a patient for two hours and listen to their life stories and help them discover a deeper sense of God and their own spirituality. She's more of the problem solver, who can refer them to any resources that they need. She is the person on the front lines who is great at introducing me to people who need chaplain visits.
In other partnerships with extroverts, I have felt this external pressure to be more like them and to do more and produce more. This is the first "secular" job I have ever had. I wonder how much of my struggles in other arenas is related to evangelical theology and practice. My spiritual director said that "in the evangelical world, it seems that after you become a Christian, a giant neon billboard appears outside your window." There is this urgency to evangelicalism, which becomes all the more unappealing the older I get.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
A while back, I discussed a Barna survey studying the level of job satisfaction in pastors. One of the findings of this study is that introverted pastors tend towards feeling unhappy and under-appreciated in their jobs. Here is an excerpt from my latest book proposal about this survey:
In a recent Barna survey which studied pastors and their level of happiness, 24% of the pastors identified themselves as introverts, matching the numbers of the general population. However, introverted pastors were far more likely to report that they felt under-appreciated and isolated. Several therapists I know who frequently work with pastors said that many of their introverted clients struggle to find balance in their lives and often wrestle with depression. They feel unable to meet the social demands placed on them by their congregations, and they frequently lack adequate boundaries to enable them to find rest and to recharge their introverted batteries.
As a pastor I am encouraged that the percentage of introverted pastors reflects the percentage of introverts in the population, but I am troubled to learn that many introverted pastors feel discouraged. I have found that many churches expect the pastor not only to be a competent preacher and administrator, but also what I call the “Lead Socializer” in the congregation. One friend who was part of a pastor nominating committee told me about a conversation that a denominational executive once had with the committee. The executive said “If the pastor’s personality does not start with an ‘E’ then you need to keep looking.” As dismaying as that conversation is, it is all too common. Too many churches expect their pastor to be the first one on the church patio after the service and the last one to leave, meeting newcomers and renewing acquaintances with church members. All the interviews I have conducted with introverted pastors have yielded one commonality: the coffee hour after worship is their least favorite hour of the week. They love their people, but after expending a tremendous amount of emotional energy to preach, they would prefer to disappear into their offices than mingle.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
First, an introductory article from the Atlantic, which I appreciate mostly because it comes from such a reputable publication.
Then, a forum entitled Introverts in Ministry, which comes from the website of Marty Laney, the author of The Introvert Advantage.
Last, here's an article about introverted evangelism.
Tell me what you think, and share other links if you've got them!
Monday, September 3, 2007
It’s a crisp autumn day in Southern California (it’s actually 108 and humid and it feels like death – I blame Al Gore for this), and it’s time for a new season of blogging on
For most people, to talk regularly with people undergoing these kind of intense emotions would be incredibly draining and even emotionally dehabilitating. Yet what I have found over the last few months is that I have a strong ability to keep appropriate distance from people while still entering far enough into their emotional worlds to help them feel that they are not alone. And while the job certainly gets to me and the stress levels that I feel manifest in certain ways, I find that I am able to keep a proper separation between my professional and personal lives. I am not certain how much of this ability owes to my introversion and how much of this is related to other personality features or gifts (or pathologies!).
In my conversations with other introverts and in my research, I have discovered that many introverts have gifts of compassion. My hypothesis is that the farther you probe into the depths of your own psyche, the more you are able to enter into the worlds of others. Because of this, there are a high number of introverts in the psychiatric profession. But I also wonder whether because, according to Carl Jung, introverts “find primary meaning within the self,” that we are better equipped to keep appropriate distance between ourselves and the emotional worlds of others who are suffering? If extroverts find energy and meaning outside of the self, does that make it harder for extroverts to separate their own internal worlds from the worlds of others?
Thursday, August 30, 2007
But I plan to remedy this lack of posting by making this commitment: to celebrate the unofficial start of fall with labor day weekend, I will post every day from Monday to Friday of next week.
How exciting is that?!
Answer: very exciting.
Friday, August 10, 2007
1) The movement towards ritual, symbolism, and art in Protestant churches. Typically, Protestant churches, especially in the reformed tradition, have shied away from these "Catholic" liturgical accouterments, for fear of idolatry and confining God. The new openness to these things in the emerging movement enables the expression of worship and devotion in wordless ways. Another liturgical element that has become more prominent is the role of silence in a worship service, and introverts everywhere can breathe sighs of relief in those moments not filled with endless chatter.
2) The emphasis on team leadership. It is becoming increasingly common for pastors/congregations to be united together in teams, each bringing his or her gifts and outlooks to the rest, and people working together to do far more than one person ever could. The old paradigm of pastor being at the center of the community and playing every conceivable leadership role - pastor, teacher, administrator, cheerleader, visionary - is slowly fading. The new paradigm frees up introverts to focus in and not to try to fill every role and please everyone. This enables us to conserve our energies and to give ourselves wholeheartedly to those things that God has called us to do.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Read it here.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
She is even letting me in on her research. In May we did a phone interview and then in August she will be accompanying me on one of my patient visits, as well as attending a service at a church I am preaching at that month.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Thanks to those of you who have linked to this site. I already have more people linking here than to my other blog, which gets about 3 times the number of visitors on a daily basis.
You'll hear from me again soon.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
The second direction is outwards, actually moving in the opposite direction that some of your natural tendencies would want you to go. I'm thinking here especially about the importance of community. As much as I would love to hole up in my study, reading, writing, and reflecting 8-12 hours a day, I can't find any mature Christian, of this age or previous ages, who says that you can be a truly mature person without bumping up against other people on a regular basis. Ronald Rollheiser, in The Shattered Lantern, says that one of the time-honored ways to find God in a culture that seeks success, money, and power is to "kiss the leper," to spend time with those who are outcasts in our culture. The poor, the dying, the sick, the alienated. When we are with those who on the outside of our culture peking order, we find a different set of values and moreover, we find God. So much of me wants to be lost in my grand ideas and reflections, away from the noise and urgency of other people, but I cannot escape the fact that growth for all humans involves the messiness of genuine human contact and the struggles of intimacy.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
"Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self. Jesus himself entered into this furnace. There he was tempted with the three compulsions of the world: to be relevant ("turn stones into loaves"), to be spectacular ("throw yourself down"), and to be powerful ("I will give you all these kingdoms"). There he affirmed God as the only source of his identity ("You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone"). Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter - the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self" (p. 26).
Friday, June 8, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Saturday, June 2, 2007
2) The problem of the extroverted church
3) What is an introvert?
4) Healing for introverts
5) Introverted Spirituality
6) Introverted Community
7) Introverted Leadership, part I
8) Introverted Leadership, part II
9) Introverted Evangelism
10) Suggestions for Churches
Monday, May 28, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
Many of the people I interviewed for this book had come to terms with the fact that they will not have as many friends, be able to work as much, or do as many things as extroverts do. But their friendships are deeper, they do meaningful work, and they enjoy the smaller, quieter moments of life. The more you are able to appreciate the advantages of being an introvert, the more you will be able to accept the fact that you have limitations. This does not mean something is wrong with you. Having limitations is not the problem. It is the meaning we give limitations that causes so much pain.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Now that I have been in my chaplain position for about three months, I am starting to learn how my energy rhythm and demands of the job intersect. In some ways, it's an ideal job for an introvert, because 1) Most of the interactions are one on one and 2) Because I visit people in their homes over a wide geographical area, I have solitude in my car between visits. That might explain why more than half of our chaplains are introverts.
I have learned that the bulk of my social energy comes in the afternoon, after I have had some solitude in the morning. So I try to book my appointments in the afternoons, and do other work in the mornings. When I am working in the office, I need to take a lunch break away from the office on my own in order to recharge. I also need to take a couple of breaks during the day, when I take a walk or go get coffee. I make sure to book appointments with about a half hour in between. I also need to get some time at home in the early evening, so that I can recharge before my wife gets home. And I try to make sure that at least one night a week, preferably right in the middle of the week, I get a night on my own as well. This way I can be ready for the last two days of the week without feeling totally exhausted.
Monday, April 30, 2007
I've always written out a full manuscript of my sermons. It helps me to think, but even more, I find that I need a manuscript when I stand up to preach, because I don't think on my feet very well. Even if I have a thorough outline, I feel off guard and far more nervous and I am more likely to stumble over my words or have bad transitions. This is a part of the introverted package. Introverts aren't generally skilled at speaking off the top of their heads. Sometimes I get frustrated that I'm bound to my manuscript and that I look down more often than others, but I also know this is my best strategy for preaching well.
Recently, I asked someone what they thought of a sermon they had just heard from another pastor, and the person said: "It was really good. He didn't really use any notes. He seemed like he was speaking from the heart." I have heard this on several occasions, and it drives me CRAZY!! As though the person who is able to speak off the top of his head is more genuine than the person who uses a manuscript. I am speaking "from the heart" just as much as the next guy, but my heart happens to best express itself in written words and paragraphs. This is where my evangelical background seems to really work against me, as people expect a very conversational, sit-down-and-have-coffee-with-the-pastor sort of dialogue, and many think that if the pastor happens to bring a text along, then he must be disingenuous.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I want to propose an idea: make friends in high places. If you are new to church, find a person who has two qualities: 1) Is well connected in the church and 2) Is hospitable to newcomers. These people aren't always easy to find, but a good place to look is to the evangelism committee, if you church has one. Generally these people will be extroverts who are eager to meet new people, but aren't always great at actually doing it. Other places you could look to are people who are involved in new members classes or to greeters or ushers.
Introduce yourself; tell that person that you want to get more involved but you're not sure how. If you feel comfortable invite that person to coffee or catch them at the right time when you can have a one-on-one interaction. Tell them about yourself and what you're interested in. Ask them if they would introduce you to some people.
As a pastor, it has not been difficult for me to meet the right people, because the right people search you out. As a parishioner, it's more difficult, but I think this strategy will help.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I need to sharpen my thinking in this arena, especially if I'm going to be able to help fellow introverts find confidence in navigating extroverted church culture (incidentally, I met a woman the other day who is currently working on a large scale critique on the extroverted tendencies of American culture and institutions as a whole - how ambitious is that?!).
Let me throw this issue out to my readers, so we can start discussing these things together. What are the practical questions that you have about being an introvert in the Church? Where are you stuck? How have you found success? How have you failed?
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I think we're in danger when we take our hermeneutical grid - whether psychological or scientific or anything else - and superimpose it onto scripture. And yes, I'm very aware of the deconstructionist critique that says it is impossible to come to a text with a clean slate, but at the very least, when we know what our own bias is, we should try to set it aside as best we can. We must attend to the historical and literary context of scripture (what the original author intended for the original readers to understand) if we are even to come close to being good readers of scripture.
Therefore, I am unwilling to try and find introverts in scripture, because that is simply not part of the worldview of Paul or Luke or Isaiah. It would have never crossed their minds. Luke may have had Mark's gospel, his own independent source (L) and a source he shared with Matthew (Q) but he certainly did not have the Meyers Brigg Type Indicator on his desk. I know where I would be tempted to go- I would like to discover that Timothy's timidity was really uncomfortability with making small talk. Or that Moses' resistance to being God's mouthpiece was because when he stood up to speak in front of people his mind went blank because he hadn't time to internally process what God had just told him to say. Or that Jesus went away into the hills to pray in the morning, not because he was about to reform the tribes of Israel through the 12 called disciples, but because he needed time to recharge his introverted batteries.
I think that I can use characters such as Moses and Timothy to talk about facing our fears of leading others and speaking for God. Moses is in fact a very interesting character because he was terrified to speak in front of a crowd, because he was "slow of speech," but then he ends up becoming the spokesman to Pharaoh and Israel, overshadowing even his eloquent brother Aaron. And I can use Jesus' example to stress the significance of solitude, though as Christians we know there is never any true "solitude" because God is Immanuel.
What are some other biblical characters that we can point to to help introverts in their journey, without trying to impose our understanding of Jungian psychological types on the scriptures?
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
"This is a really high octane environment."
"We're looking for someone who is really high energy and really excitable."
"You have to be totally sold out to work here."
"You have to work full throttle."
Adam's translation: You have to be a hard core extrovert, who thrives in the presence of crowds, can't wait to meet new people, and who has limitless social energy.
Another way of putting it: An introvert's worst nightmare.
The Barna group recently released a study on the self-confidence of pastors, which had some interesting things to say about introversion in the pulpit.
I'm encouraged to see that the percentage of introverts in ministry reflects the percentage of introverts in the general population. I wonder, however, if the pastors self-identifying as introverts are using the precise Jungian/MBTI definitions of introversion or if they are associating introversion with "shyness." The commentary on ministry in the above paragraph is interesting to me. Lines like "despite the interpersonal demands of congregational ministry" and "church work is not merely for those drawn to the limelight" reveal cultural assumptions about ministry and those who are perceived to be most effective at it. Introverts in ministry seem to be the exception to the extroverted rule, that's for sure. These study results confirm many of my experiences and convictions as an introverted pastor: though we can do ministry, we have a tougher journey than many extroverts because of cultural and personal issues.
Despite the interpersonal demands of congregational ministry, one-quarter of the nation’s Senior Pastors describe themselves as introverts (24%). This is the same proportion as in the adult population (25%) and suggests that church work is not merely for those drawn to the limelight. Still, the research revealed that introverted leaders are more likely to feel under-appreciated in ministry and are more apt to feel relationally isolated. Those attending seminary, non-white pastors, mainline leaders, those in the Northeast, and leaders in their twenties and thirties were more likely than average to self-identify as introverted personality types.
Another finding I thought was extremely interesting was that Buster (Gen-X) pastors are the most likely to self-identify as introverts. What are your theories about that? I have a couple, but I would like to hear from you.
Monday, March 5, 2007
The title, Introverted Church, is a somewhat tongue in cheek reference to a critique I read recently of the Church when it is not fulfilling its mission as witness to Jesus Christ. The author said this:
An introverted church, turned in on itself, preoccupied with its own survival, has virtually forfeited the right to be a church, for it is denying a major part of its own being. As a planet which ceases to be in orbit is no longer a planet, so a church which ceases to be in mission is no longer a church. In order to qualify for the name "church" we must be a community deeply and constantly aware of our "sentness," and actively loyal to this part of our Christian identity.
This quotation, from the pen of a prominent evangelical theologian and preacher, reveals a common misunderstanding that says introversion is bad, self-centered, closed off, and pathological. The subsequent description of the church in that quotation would indeed be a distortion of what Jesus had in mind when he chartered the Church, but to call it "introverted" is only to reinforce the stereotypes that externally and internally plague people who are properly and healthily called introverts. When God "fearfully and wonderfully made" each person, he was pleased to create 1/4 of the population as introverts, and we have great gifts to bring to the Church and the world.