Saturday, April 26, 2008

Prophets

"Prophets are people who have learned to listen attentively."

-Eddie Gibbs, Leadership Next, p. 160

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Introverted Athletes

This post is a slight departure from the topic of introverts in the church, but it's not far off. Any of you who follow my other blog know that I am a big sports fan, especially of teams from Seattle. It's always interesting to me to see how the introvert/extrovert dynamic plays out in sports. From what I can tell, it has the greatest impact on the relationship between introverted players and coaches and the media. My Seattle Mariners traded for an ace pitcher in the offseason, named Erik Bedard, and this guy is probably most notorious now for practically ignoring the media. During spring training he would go to a press conference and say "You've got three questions." And then he would answer exactly three questions, each response being one or two sentences. He has a reputation of being aloof and cold, though honestly, if he gets 18 wins this season, no one will care.

The head coach of the Washington Huskies football team, Ty Willingham, is also very clearly an introvert. And again, in the Seattle area, he is reputed for not handling the media very well. He is quite reticent, speaks in monotone, and withholds information and emotions that other coaches express more. A previous head coach Rick Neuheisel ("Slick Rick" - how long until UCLA goes on probation?!) was very extroverted and had far more lively exchanges with the media.

Of course there are other factors involved in how players and coaches handle the media - some have been burned by people prying into their private lives and they are understandably coy in public settings. And Bedard and Willingham are not representative of all introverts. Certainly there are other introverted athletes who have a more playful relationship with the media, because introverts aren't necessarily quiet or reticent. But it does feel like most of the most beloved athletes these days are extroverts whose outgoing personalities match their amazing abilities - think Payton Manning, for example.

However, some of the greatest athletes of our day are introverts. Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan are all introverts. They have incredible focus, perseverance, and seem unrattled by pressure. But all three of them have tenuous relationships with the media - Jordan always seemed distant, Kobe seems arrogant, and Tiger (though after getting married and having a kid has become much more sympathetic) receives criticism for not speaking out about racial and social issues.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Paths

It's always interesting to me to see how people find their way to this website. Here are some of the most interesting and thought provoking google searches people have done recently to get here:

1. "Can an introvert be Christian?"
2. "How do I become more extroverted?"
3. "Leave me alone introvert" (how do you interpret that one?!)
4. "Depressed introvert overwhelmed"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

STAT

You've heard the term, if you watch Grey's Anatomy or House or ER. The doctor shouts out, to anyone in the vicinity, "I need a crash cart STAT!!!" It's a term that conjures up excitement and tension, that makes your pulse race, every sense hanging on what will happen next.

It's a term that produces nothing but resentment in me. I work in the health care industry, as a hospice chaplain, and about once a week I get a page saying "Call the office STAT!" or "The family is requesting a chaplain visit STAT!" As an introvert, practically nothing in my life happens at STAT pace. I'm living in my own interior world, developing ideas, working out solutions, asking more questions, fantasizing about moving to a chateau in Cote d'Or and working at the pace that Pinot Noir grapes grow.

STAT doesn't resonate with the nature of my calling. I am the most impractical member of my team. The nurses move at lightning pace when called on in an emergency. They gallop. I mosey. Occasionally, I will canter if need be. But the nature of my job is ambiguous and slow. I give space for people to open up the deepest caverns of their souls, which takes time and trust. And afterwards, I reflect and internalize. People assume that if I'm not sitting in a room with a patient or driving to my next visit then I must be slacking off. They think "Here's a guy who is just waiting for a STAT page, because he is bored and has nothing to do."

I'm so grateful that God doesn't move at STAT pace. God took over 40 years to get his people to the promised land. He waited a thousand years to send the Messiah. It is 2000 years and counting and Jesus still has not returned to usher in final redemption. While STAT is at times in this life is the appropriate move, it often misses the process. STAT moves from one action to another without reflection, without learning from what has come before. STAT lets outside forces control it, bouncing around like a pinball. STAT is built on impatience.

The more STAT pages I get, the more I feel out of touch with myself, with God, with my vocation as a pastor.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ouch

Here is an incendiary quote for you to stew over this weekend:

In plain language, emerging leaders like people because they thrive on relationships. The presence of people energizes them rather than draining them. Furthermore, they are constantly establishing connections between people..."

Eddie Gibbs, LeadershipNext, p. 173

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Domains

I bought a Google domain for Introverted Church so now visitors can skip the .blogspot encumbrance and go straight to www.introvertedchurch.com Update your bookmarks!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pros and Cons

As a pastor currently serving as a hospice chaplain, I occupy a particular ministry niche. My ministry has some crossover with traditional pastoral work as well as some variance. I find that some aspects of the job suit my introversion and other aspects conflict with it.

Pros:

1. Most of my pastoral interactions are one on one.
2. A big part of my job description is listening.
3. I drive from interaction to interaction, affording me personal time between visits.
4. Working in health care mandates thorough documentation, which is done privately.
5. The job is 8 to 5, and most of my weekends are open.
6. I have the opportunity to have ongoing relationships with a few patients.
7. My interactions involve quite a bit of depth.

Cons:

1. I am constantly interacting with people.
2. I have no opportunity to hide in an office, when I'm drained.
3. Every week I am regularly meeting new people, and I usually only see them once.
4. I talk on the phone a lot.
5. I have a quota of how many patients I need to see each week (the bane of my job!!).
6. I only see the people who give me energy - other chaplains and social workers - occasionally.
7. Reading, reflecting, and writing are not core parts of my job.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New books

A couple of readers have asked for a bibliography of books that I'm using as material for my own book. Today I've added a few of them to the left side of my blog - most of these are the ones I'm using for my introverted leadership chapters but it also includes a few from my introverted spirituality chapter and my as yet unwritten introverted evangelism chapter.