Friday, June 27, 2008

It doesn't totally suck

I've finished chapter 8. Whew! And it doesn't totally suck. (step 5 of Adam's writing sequence) Each chapter is taking progressively longer than the preceding one and is getting progressively longer than the preceding one. This one is 34 pages! I'm pretty sure the good people at IVP will be cutting that one down.

Chapter 7 was a more abstract chapter about leadership theory and how current leadership discussions, and also some biblical discussions, open up the doors for introverts to lead effectively. Chapter 8 is a more practical look at how introverts can lead in the church in a way that is true to their natures. Without giving too much away, here are some topics I discussed:

1. The example of Moses, who had many struggles that parallel the experiences of introverts in leadership.

2. Self-care: what are the pitfalls introverted leaders face and how do we strike a healthy balance in ministry?

3. Introverted preaching

4. Sharing your life as a leader

5. Following Jesus' example of focusing on "the few"

6. Spiritual direction and applying the principles of spiritual direction to all of our ministry

7. Team leadership: introverts and extroverts leading together

8. Communicating with extroverts

Two chapters to go:
1. Chapter 9: introverts and evangelism
2. Chapter 10: introverts in church.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


For those of you sports fan, here's an intriguing article about Tiger Woods on ESPN. It talks about how enigmatic his personality is, as was Michael Jordan's before him. I admit that I find Tiger to be a fascinating character, but not primarily because of his unfathomable golf skills, but because of his incomparable mental toughness and the elusiveness of his persona. He is unquestionably an introvert, and I always wonder how I would come across if I were in such a public position.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Ultimate Introverted Band

About 5 years later than everyone else in the English speaking world, I have just discovered Coldplay. I wish to declare them as the ultimate band for introverts. They have become the soundtrack of my book. Their lyrics are poetic and profound, their melodies are haunting - their music stirs and moves without distracting me from my inner processes of reflection. In fact, they inspire deeper reflections.

They didn't pay me for this promotion. But I hope they do.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Complete Disorientation

You can tell that I'm in stage 4 ("complete disorientation") of writing my current leadership chapter because I'm starting to tidy up everything in my workspace, to offset that mess that is my draft. Yesterday I looked at this website, and I could barely read it with all the clutter and cumbersome fonts and spacing and I realized that the template just wouldn't work anymore. So this is the new one I've found, and I have to say I'm pretty smitten with the margins and columns and background. Any suggestions for improvement?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Multiple Personality Disorder

For research purposes, and also because I'm looking for a job, I've been scanning some pastoral positions in the PCUSA. At the same time, I've been reading The Power of Team Leadership by George Barna, in which the author advocates for a team-based approach to leadership. Barna claims that the most effective form of leadership is when a small group of four or five leaders is responsible for leading a church. It's been interesting to juxtapose Barna's findings with the the job descriptions I've been seeing:

Take, for example, this one:

B. Characteristics and qualifications needed

Proven track record in the following areas of ministry as a:

• Lay leader – training and small groups

• Manager of programs, staff, volunteers and committees

• Team builder – compassionate and relational

• Motivator – energetic and visionary

• Encourager –transparent and humble

I mean nothing against this church at all - in fact it is a very good church - but it strikes me that they are looking for one person to be at least the equivalent of what perhaps three people could bring to the position. The "manager of programs" bullet point describes someone who fits what Barna calls "strategic leader" function. The team builder qualification fits, appropriately, the "team builder" function. And the motivator characteristic fits the "directing leader" function. Barna says that individual leaders major on one of these functions, yet this church (and so many others) seems to be searching for a pastor with multiple personality disorder.

And of course, I can't help noticing that this position sounds EXTREMELY extroverted.

Now playing: Coldplay - Low
via FoxyTunes

Monday, June 16, 2008

A little quiet

I know it's been a little quiet here over the last week. My wife and I were celebrating our anniversary and my birthday with a trip up to Santa Ynez wine country, perhaps my favorite place in the world. The people who masterminded the movie Sideways were definitely on to something there. It was a nice break from writing, which when you're doing it 8 hours a day, can become incredibly oppressive. I've had a few incomplete, lazy reflections over the last few days:

1. Being married to an extrovert and all the joys and struggles that go into that. The truth is, if I were married to another introvert, I'm not sure how much conversation would take place! My wife definitely fills up the awkward silences.

2. Introverts and evangelism. That is the chapter that is up next, and my introverted pastor preached a sermon on it yesterday. There will be more to follow in this space about this topic.

3. Introverts and birthdays. Most of my friends throw parties for their birthdays. I like to go up to wine country with my wife, play some golf, take in the scenery, drink some wine, and enjoy the quiet.

4. Introverts and sports. I just finished watching the US Open, a fierce battle between Tiger Woods, intense introvert, and Rocco Mediate, chatty, affable extrovert. It was a very interesting dynamic - the crowd seemed pretty divided between the two. Rocco was accessible, whereas Tiger is passionate and unflappable.

5. Introverts and pets. I have realized how much my affinity for cats is related to my personality type. Cats are definitely introverts - they are happy by themselves, they usually run when encountering strangers but they are loyal and affectionate to their owners, and they are laid back and mellow.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Introverted influence

"Introverts - energized by their world of ideas, thoughts, and concepts - are not often motivated to influence others [?]. When introverts do choose to influence others, they commonly do so by presenting ideas, plans, visions, or values - often in writing - that will be compelling and attractive. As is the case with all Introverts, an Introverted leader has lot brewing under the surface, but only lets out or shares a small piece of it."

Type Talk at Work, Kroeger,Thuesen, and Rutledge. 76

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Phases of Writing Redux

I originally posted this over on unResolved Tensions, but I thought my readers here would enjoy it even more, as it exposes all my introverted angst:

Writing a book is like giving birth to a snarling 8 headed monster. It's so much more than sitting down in front of your laptop and typing. It's more like a war, as your own words and ideas battle you and each other. In writing your hopes, dreams, fears and inadequacies are exposed. You learn what it is you most want in life and how incompetent you are to actually achieve it.

I've written seven and a half chapters in my book now, and I've identified some patterns in the process, some phases that I invariably go through:

1. The "Aha" phase. This is the phase of researching, thinking, and interviewing. This is the phase of discovery, as I begin to see things I had not seen before. I have great synergistic moments as I talk with others and we find that we share thoughts, experiences, and hopes. I'll be reading a book and a sentence or a concept will practically shout out to me. I'll begin to believe that I have valuable things to say and that others will be interested.

2. The "Pulitzer Prize" phase. This is the phase of conceptualizing, organizing, and outlining. Inevitably I get here and my ego tries to leap out of my body and make itself known. Here I become convinced that my ideas are brilliant and my writing is profound. No one has ever written a book this sublime. N.T. Wright will read my book and say "Why didn't I think of that?!"

3. The "Total Incompetence" phase. This one follows about ten minutes on the heels of the Pulitzer Prize phase. I'll encounter the first obstacle in writing my chapter and my ego will not only find its way back into my body but shrink to 1/8th its normal size. This is where I will question everything I've ever known about the world and myself, including why in the world I thought I could write a book. This is where the dark scenarios creep in and I'll imagine my manuscript sitting in my editor's trash can, the smoke still floating off the singed pages. Or someone going to review my book and being unable to do so because the astonished tears of laughter keep him from being able to see straight.

4. The "Complete Disorientation" phase. Once I power through stage 3 and finish a draft of my chapter, I go to read it over and immediately move into this phase. My first draft tends to be very rough and practically stream of consciousness writing. If I don't know where something should go, I'll just write it anyway. So it feels like a bunch of random paragraphs that have no organic relationship to anything that comes before them or after. My head will be spinning as I try to read it over. This is the phase where I find myself cleaning my apartment a lot - my manuscript may be a mess, but dammit, my writing space will be clean!

5. The "It doesn't totally suck" phase. After rewriting several times, I get to a point where I think that maybe there are a few nuggets of insight in here and maybe a few people will actually want to read it. There is a small measure of contentment and sense of accomplishment here. Then, it's back to step one.

On that note, I'm entertaining this book title:

It Doesn't Totally Suck

by Adam S. McHugh

Monday, June 2, 2008


I added a link (see "welcome, introverts!") on the sidebar to my original post on Introverted Church, back in March of last year. It introduces the goals of this blog. Thanks to all of you who have been reading along and who have commented and emailed me. You've been such a tremendous help to me in the research for my book. I've come to realize that I'm not just writing because I love the topic and I love writing in general; I'm writing because there are introverts in churches out there who need to be a part of these kinds of discussions.

I'm still pounding the keys - I am about half way through chapter 8 now, with two more chapters to go and a whole bunch of revising before my deadline on August 30th. Interestingly, last month I was laid off from my job as a hospice chaplain, which was a bit of a surprise, but a wonderful gift for my writing progress. I wrote a chapter and a half in May and I'm writing about 5 pages a day now. I appreciate your feedback and prayers!