Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Cutting Room Floor

I'm in another stage of editing this month (will the process EVER be finished?!), so here are a few blurbs that didn't make the cut:

From chapter 1 - The Extroverted Church

In some circles, introverts may be tagged as unfriendly or detached, but in many Christian circles, our personality tendencies get more devastating labels: prideful, sinful, lacking in love. These charges only exacerbate our feelings of guilt and spiritual inadequacy.

From chapter 5 - Introverted Community and Relationships

When a friend of mine critiqued my preaching style, he said that I presented people with complex ideas to sink their teeth into, but that when I turned to discussing community and relationships, it felt strained.

These same patterns emerged in my conversations with many of my fellow introverts. I marveled at the insight that they possessed about the contemplative life and their eloquence in discussing the nature of God. Their fluency in those areas served to underscore the awkwardness of their communication once we moved into discussing relationships. The ease of the speech devolved into stuttered frustration and sighs that conveyed both longing and feelings of helplessness.

Also from chapter 5

Introverts may choose fewer activities and fewer relationships than extroverts. Our picture of community may be less of a crowd of people and more one-on-one interactions with a few close friends. And even though we greatly desire depth, we may be turned off by structures that foster, what feels like, artificial intimacy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Emotional Intelligence

I've been doing some reading about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) recently, thinking about introversion and EQ. Briefly speaking, EQ is a person's ability to identity and manage their emotions, both for their own benefit and for the benefit of their relationships. It is highly significant, perhaps even more significant than IQ, in determining a person's success in many spheres of life. The good news about EQ is that, unlike IQ, you can actually grow and improve your ability to perceive and understand emotions.

In The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, the authors remark that "People often assume that certain traits (for example, extroversion) are associated with a higher emotional intelligence, but those who prefer to be with other people are no more emotionally intelligent than people who prefer to be alone." (p. 27).

I guess I could see how some people might think that extroverts are more emotionally intelligent than introverts, but there are two different components to emotional intelligence. There is the social competence component - the ability to understand and respond appropriately to the emotions of others - and the personal competence component - the ability to know yourself and identify your emotions.

I wonder if perhaps introverts have an advantage in the personal competence component, since we spend so much time looking at our inner worlds. Our internal processing mechanism guides us in reviewing our thoughts, ideas, and emotions. And perhaps extroverts have the advantage in social competence, since they tend to be focused away from themselves and towards the people and events around them.

It may be that introverts tend towards an over-emphasis on personal awareness and lack the same degree of social awareness, and thus our trajectory of growth will be in the opposite direction.

At the same time, the authors state that the most effective way in growing in social competence is through listening. We must learn at times to stop the monologue running through our heads in order to enter into the worlds of other people and into the dynamics of the system we are part of. While true listening is something different from merely not talking (which many of us excel at), I think that introverts can easily discipline themselves to listen to others.

In other words, I am convinced introverts are capable of a high degree of emotional intelligence.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Update

My copyeditor will finish tearing up my manuscript soon (j/k Elaina!) and then we will be sending it out to potential endorsers. I'm very pleased and honored to already have a couple of endorsements from people I admire (and no, I'm not releasing that info yet!). IVP is working on cover design as we speak, and we should have that finalized in a few weeks. Introverts in the Church will be available for pre-order sometime in the summer and will be released in October.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A couple of links

Here are a few links for your Friday reading:

Internet Monk, with a little help from Richard Foster, on silence and solitude. Perhaps some helpful disciplines to practice during Lent.

Church of the Introvert - a new blog for Christian introverts. The author is off to a good start with an insightful post about facebook and the value of written words for introverts.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Burn Out

I've exchanged a few emails in the last couple of weeks with Anne Jackson, host of FlowerDust (she's not blogging during Lent by the way) and author of Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic. One of the things I asked her was if she thought introverted pastors and leaders were more susceptible to ministry burnout. She said no, that burnout can inflict people of all personalities and backgrounds, but I still find myself wondering whether introverts are in greater danger. My sense, and experience, is that we need to exercise greater caution and vigilance in self-care, because ministry is such a socially demanding enterprise. Extroverts, even without proper self-care, may be able to survive an intense period of ministry because of the way their energy flows towards people and experiences. But if introverts lack self-understanding and disciplines to protect themselves, that same stretch of ministry might kill them.

What do you think?

By the way, Anne's book is very engaging, funny, and helpful. She's a great writer and has wonderful insight into ministry, spiritual disciplines, and relationships. And she's an introvert.