I think people who are introverts and a single child, no less! I can play the role of leader, coordinator, nursery worker, etc. Just this past month I have given away a lot of my responsibilities in our church, am about to partake on a 2 month sabbatical from our weekly community group that my husband has led for just under 4 years—talk about exhausting! Already the month has flown by. Sarah M. Ah, I can relate in so many ways! Forcing ourselves to be someone… my husband is MUCH better at the fake vs.
Sarah, your new venture into doing what fits your personality, giftings, strengths is really the best thing ever! Giving yourself permission to live and serve from a place of desire and not just duty is life-changing and empowering! Oh, this has just opened a new door for me. So I know I need time to myself, alone, in order to handle it. I made that declaration once and instantly found another gal who was introverted on the inside.
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Sarah, thank you for sharing your story of taking time to be you and finding how to serve out of your gifts. It really encouraged me. Seeing the word Exhausting written out so resonated with me. I have been criticized for not wearing a smile all the time. I am missionary so some think that is a requirement. I was actually told one I must do that because I was an employee of the church. Not that the person who was on staff did that of course.
What is this? Sorority rush? I do interact. But I am also content to sit quietly. Not so good at small talk. So I am thought of as snobby, intimidating and unapproachable. My husband who is quieter than me has never been labeled in such a way! In other Christian circles this has not necessarily been the case. As some others have said….
VBS is almost pure torture for me. All that noise!!! And so many kids out of control!!! But finally, I had to just own up to who I am and admit that I was doing out of guilt alone. So no more VBS for me. Why are we even still doing it? VBS leaders everywhere are readying the tomato launch. Just the words VBS make me want a nap.
Back in the day, I think my church had it nailed. Add a morning prayer, Bible story, popsicle sticks, and instructions to frame your picture of Jonah, and friends! If you would have suggested to these women that Bible School would involve complete church redecorating, theme snacks, videos, costumed adults, sychronized dancing, and take-home character keychains, I think they would have turned the whole thing over to the United Methodist Men.
From that point, the concept would have died immediately. My younger son, who is also an introvert, loved VBS his first summer because he really connected with one of the teachers. Wednesday, all the kids were in the sanctuary singing VBS songs when I got there to pick him up. I could see him curled up in a corner of a pew with his hands over his ears and a scowl on his face. We spent the time building things instead. So glad you said the above! In my more than twenty years in quite a few churches, only one church came somewhat close to the older ways of doing VBS you describe.
My own VBS experience was similar to simplicity. OH my word yes. We are gearing up for VBS next week and because of the grand push to get EVERYONE to sign up to host a booth we are doing sort of a camp with games style VBS and because I have a very extroverted son who insisted that he wanted to do a booth our VBS this year is for the kids of the community, with our kids helping to put it on , I get to do a booth. What is it like being an introverted woman in church?
Full of guilt for not being able to do all the things the extroverts do with such ease. I came in at a. I love them all. I would be delighted to sit and have a true conversation with any one of them. It so often needs to happen or seems like it needs to happen. Yeah … do it all the time.
Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
My whole life I have always wondered what on earth people talk about when I see them chatting away! And I have also learned that if you are serving in some capacity at church it gives you something to talk about and frees you from the need to socialize as much. This is particularly hard in church where women are seen as the primary social caregivers for everyone.
So appreciate this post and the comments. Wow, its like you were watching me this whole time. I have a lot on my plate with at family of five and a family of one vehicel. My little one attends private school and you have to volunteer 40hrs. My husband and I wk full time…the poor guy has to drive us around everywhere during school days. I would love to be that mother that is always volunteering at school, but I need those few min to catch my breath sometimes.
I would love to win a copy of this book, and tahnk you for talking about this. I am very comfortable with people in very small groups or 1 on 1 with those I trust, but more than that is overwhelming to me. With anxiety. With Fear. The list goes on and on. My biggest issue is that I feel I am continually thrusted into positions of leadership in our church. I LOVE serving. I HATE leading. Yes, I hate it. I think when I am in a leadership position, I am most likely serving outside my gifts and burnout is just right around the corner.
You really hit a nerve with me, touching on the gender issue. I have been asking these questions over and over for the past few months: Is there a leader inside this introverted woman and I am just not doing it right? Jamie, I just wanted to respond to your comment about serving vs.
I think you are on the right track. If you love to serve, but hate to lead, and you recognize that leadership brings you to a place of burnout…then you are probably not meant to be the leader. I have been where you are…pushed into leadership positions that have eventually burned me out.
This topic is so close to me that it is actually painful. For years I have dealt with feeling guilty for being an introvert. That is so sad that you spent so long feeling your personality was sinful. It is beautiful that you are taking comfort in the Lord and that you know that He accepts you and loves you! Thank God I no longer do. I am much better at one on one conversations. I wish I was different. I am the same way with retreats! I told myself I will come home and have friends but it was the most awkward, humiliating ever for me.
I was chasing women so I can join their group and it felt like I was not even there. I stayed with two other women who only talked to each other. JJ- This sounds more like my experiences with trying to connect with other women at church and most other groups throughout my life as well. My problem is, after being rejected throughout life, I realized I was too blunt and honest but friendly! In my opinion, I have lived and learned and find that it is better to learn to be the quiet one and a misunderstood introvert, then a to put your heart out there, watch it be crushed, and feel like you hate going to church.
The one good thing out of this is that my bad life experiences in connecting with other women and groups socially, led me to study psychology since I was 13 years old, and now at 32 my husband is making enough for me to go to school for my 2nd college degree which will be in psychology.
One day after I have my PhD, I hope to help others find the answers to their problems through the link between our faith and psychology. God has a plan for everyone and uses their strengths. Not everyone learns about God through the extroverts. None of that is affected one way or another by me being an extrovert in church, and so I accept that this is His plan, and roll with it! I really can relate to this topic because I have always worn the label of introvert. It was given to me as a child…she is so quiet, she is so shy, on and on. And I put myself in that box, all my life. And now as an adult Christian wife and mother, it kind of makes me mad sometimes.
God did not say, you will be born either an introvert or an extrovert! Can we just be who God created us to be? And not criticize our sisters in Christ for not living up to some ideal? I am not only an introvert, but a single introvert. I recently started going to a different church, a church where I could blend in and not have too many people ask questions about my life and job and such. It is wonderful for me to be able to slide into church just before the band starts to play, and to slide out after the closing prayer so I can avoid that awkward small talk with strangers. A couple of months ago, I realized I needed to be more involved in church.
I love my church, and it would be nice to understand some of the inside stories that the pastor tells about different people in the congregation, but that means I have to talk to strangers. But I did it. I became involved in the worship team. The practices are still very uncomfortable for me, but I have a stand and instrument to hide behind. Who knows? I have been on staff and a leader in churches for a good long time. Ministry has worn me out in the past, though. They are just that—family—! But greet your neighbor time is for the birds.
Will we ever STOP? FIFTY people. I just wonder what I will do when my youngest is too big for me to hold in my lap as my excuse not to get up and greet my neighbor. Not my favorite. I often wonder if some people think it rude that I have not introduced myself to them. I had not thought of the fact that women are expected to be more social in church, but I think it explains a lot of my anxiety over going to church some days. One of the brilliant ideas presented was to do a pot luck luncheon once a month after the service so everyone in attendance could get to know each other.
I simply did not have the energy to talk with people. Being around a lot of women is pretty tiring. You are not alone Jamie. I promise. I also find Sunday morning anxiety provoking. But I work in the helping professions with a rather intense population, and the past 4 years or so have been quite a roller coaster ride for my husband and me.
So, what I seek at church is peace and calm and healing. I have recently come to realize I am an introvert in the church. As a result, I am exhausted and often confused as to why! I am just grateful that the Father, who knows me better than myself, is revealing this to me and leading me gently through the healing process. My husband is a very outgoing pastor and I am very shy and quiet. I do a blog now and I think people are surprised that I have things to say. That has helped me a lot in just having a voice. There are times when I have to step up to the plate and behave opposite of the way I feel.
What I want is to avoid the social setting, the crowd, the women who scrutinize every word, every action. What I want is to steer clear of all situations where I might have to carry on a conversation with another woman men are easier to converse with. I typically dread any and all social events. It is absolutely exhausting and often VERY difficult, but it is rewarding.
If I were writing my story it would be a quiet, country life surrounded by only by family and a very FEW choice people. But God is writing my story and he has me placed in ministry fishbowl in a metropolitan area. I can choose resist or embrace His plan for my life. I often do both. I always find that He knows best. I love what you said here. I have been in very similar circumstances and agree with how you are going about handling being an introvert. It does work to put our needs aside to minister to others, which requires alot of extrovertism…if there is such a term. I have often thought about whether or not Jesus was an extrovert or introvert in His humanity.
I think He was the complete balance of both…He easily spoke and ministered in large crowds, yet surrounded Himself with just a few close friends, and needed His quiet times of prayer, refueling, and reflection. I am an introvert and agree with much of what has been said in all these comments, and yet desire to be like my Lord in all things.
I hope I can respect the way He has made me, and yet grow to all He wants me to be. This is a very excellent point. I know that there are many ways in which God uses us by stretching us outside our natural selves and many ways in which He uses what He has put into us from birth. I tend to make friends quickly when I am able to be in a one-on-one situation with someone.
I NEED people around me…just not all the time! I hope I can find a core group of friends in our church. I am an extrovert, but know so many introverts who can relate to this. One of them recently said to me that for every one day around people, they need three days to recover.
Great post. The feeling of never connecting to any one. I am very very much an introvert. I am also a military wife. It means that we have been going to church for almost two years now and I still have no idea who most of them are…. And when I do try I always seem to fail miserably. My husband is also an introvert, so we make quite the pair. We are both extroverted with the people we grow close to, but it takes a while to get to know us. Going to church on Sunday morning can be exhausting.
Honestly, being an introvert in my church circles is a bit daunting. It really seems that everyone I hang around is an extrovert. I almost feel pressured to jump out of my comfort zone so much in conversation and action that it bothers me for a while afterwards. I do try, though. Its like I have a huge desire to be willy-nilly with my coversation, but its not who I am. You know, reading your guest post, I was struck by your comment that introverted women might often be considered stand-offish or stuck up.
I first heard it when I was a cheerleader in high school. And it works that way at church too. In small group or Sunday school settings, I always have a gazillion thoughts that I just know, darn it, would be so relevant to the discussion at hand, but I either sit silently, or let the thoughts blurble out incoherently and then blush in embarrassment like I did when I was in 7th grade and the teacher called on me!
Oh my goodness! Every introvert, and extravert, and any kind of human at all, has the right to be different than the norm for their personality type. Me too Christy! My husband and I are both introverts but sometimes people are surprised to learn that I am really an introvert. Years ago my husband became an elder in the small fellowship church we attended. We met in Bible College, both wanting to serve the Lord, but neither of us felt called to pastor a church.
I am a deep thinker and I enjoy the intellectual stimulation of class discussions and small group Bible study because I am always interested in learning and growing.
Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
You know, some people just tend to jabber when they feel nervous. Yet many times I would hear comments about how something I shared really ministered to someone. The senior Pastors wife took me aside one time and told me I have so much of the Word in me that I just needed to learn to dish it out in smaller bites as it could be too much for others to take in all at once. Later I learned to better handle sitting at a table with complete strangers and being ok with it. I heard a sermon by Bill Hybels some years ago talking about the pathways people find that make them feel closest to God — for some it is the social aspect of getting together with a community of believers [extroverts] for some it is music, for me it is nature,and music and contemplation.
I learned it is ok to be a contemplative. As a protestant I never understood the monastic life or how that could be a way of serving Christ— it always seemed to be to be copping out on the world, somehow. But now, I get it. Contemplatives can commune with God and study on their own and write their insights which can be passed on to bless others and that too,is a ministry. So is a life dedicated to intercessory prayer.
After years of trying to serve God in churches the way the extroverts think you have to — I finally decided to quit playing that game. I always wanted to connect with others on a deeper spiritual level, where you can share your souls in the love of God. I am an introvert and the wife of a pastor who is VERY extroverted. Many years ago I was told that God cannot use me because I am an introvert. The most awkward time of my week is right after our worship service ends when everyone stands around talking. I feel like I should be greeting and getting to know visitors and others I do not know, but this is very difficult for me.
I often just escape and go read in the car until my husband is finished. I think some do think I am stuck-up; many have commented how different I am once they get to know me than they first thought. My husband would love to do more entertaining, but he is very accepting of where I am and understands how exhausting it is for me. I do agree that introverted men are viewed very differently. I am also married to an extroverted pastor. On top of that, he worked at the church several years before we got married, so everyone knows and loves him — but I often feel invisible.
There have been several times when people whom I know are guests are sitting next to me and I agonize over knowing I should say something but being paralyzed by fear. My husband is supportive and tries to help me out when he can. He gently pushes me when he feels it wise, encourages me when I want to give up, and respects that I need time to refuel. Heather: Does your husband like science? If you do some research on the scientific background, the neurology and chemistry, of the differences between introverts and extraverts, it might help him get more of a grasp on it.
I am an introvert, but I really love socializing with people that I know well and trust. One of the harder aspects for me is that my husband easily makes friends and many of our friendships turn out to be with other young, married couples. It hurts a little—I think for both of us—to see his friendships with the men deepen at a much much faster rate than my friendships with the women. I would love a copy of the book. It has been incredibly helpful—especially the sections on leadership.
He has no food in his house to share. I had guests I love stay at my house last week and company is exhausting for me much of the time. Please love them through me. Then I took a long nap and did quite a bit of writing. It looks different for each of us, introvert or extrovert. I will be adding many of your strategies and ideas from the book to my introvert toolbox. Thank again! Wow, that is so helpful for me! That is my desire: to love others genuinely. It just might look different than an extrovert. We had a houseguest recently stay with us for 4 days.
Not even an hour after she left our house my husband wanted me to get in the car and go to a big party. I liked the people at the party but just felt completely drained. I am an extrovert-wanna-be but very much an introvert to the core. I find myself in a constant internal tug-of-war desiring to be so much more for my husband and children, but feeling completely lost and unable to make that change and always coming back to the introvert I have always been. The Lord placed me in a management position in a hospital before I became a full-time mother and also placed me in a music ministry position very much a gift…nothing I had any formal training in that afforded me opportunities to be a featured vocalist in church, at weddings, etc.
Somehow I could step out of my introversion for those very extroveted roles but out of the spotlight, on a social leveI, I was very much an isolating introvert. I married an amazing man who is a sales consultant, very good at what he does, always connecting with people. With conversations going on all around me, it is rare that I find myself engaged with anyone in conversation even though we have attended there for almost 12 years.
I can totally relate to those who posted previously who describe their experiences as exhausting. I want so much to just accept who I am and how I am, and recognize that there is freedom in being the me He created me to be and that is enough.
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I struggle a lot with this. There are a lot of other new people here, otherwise he would know almost everyone! I homeschool my children, and everyone I know here utilizes the public school system. I wanted to join a homeschool group this past school year, but I was too afraid to ever do it.
Hi Chris — do you live in Elgin? Admittedly, being a southern city homeschooler is going to be a challenge there! Do they even have a homeschool group in that area? Does it help that there are so few people that live there, in comparison to the city you came from in the South?
Having now spent some time away from there for a while, in going back to visit I feel like I have a much better handle on the situation than before. There are really not that many outwardly dominating personalities in that area to be put off by, which should help. Remind your hubby that this already feels like home to him because he grew up there, and for you to feel at home will naturally take more time regardless of how outgoing you are.
If she has leadership skills, even though introverted, she must become creative and find ways to lead in non-typical fashion, that still allow the chance to use her gifting. I agree with everyone who said that it is exhausting. I try to force myself to be extroverted I like the costume analogy above , and it wears me out.
Most importantly, know your limits. Limit the amount of social activities you attend, so you can be at your most social for them. If your job involves a lot of interaction with people, you probably want to limit the amount of weekday activities you attend. Schedule plenty of alone time during the weekend. Other hints: — think about questions you can ask. This is something you can do in advance, during your introverted alone time… Questions are good conversation starters, and all you need to do is listen for the answer — especially when dealing with an extravert. Ask thoughtful questions, let the other person talk.
People, especially extraverts, want a platform, they want to vent, have the feeling they are heard. If you are that platform, people are not going to perceive you as stand-offish. He is also a widely recognized blogger at the Jesus Creed blog. His other interests include golfing, gardening and traveling. The Extroverted Church 2. The Introverted Difference 3. Finding Healing 4. Introverted Spirituality 5. Introverted Community and Relationships 6. Can Introverts Lead? Leading as Ourselves 8. Introverted Evangelism 9. Mark D. Roberts "What a timely and badly needed book!
Introverts in the Church will encourage thousands of Christians who have felt as if they don't quite fit. It will help them find their rightful place in Christian community, so that their gifts might be well used in the work of the kingdom. This book will also help churches to be a place where all people can flourish as disciples of Jesus. Adam McHugh has given us a precious gift through his openness, theological soundness, and godly wisdom. You'll laugh, you'll tear up, and you might even experience a weird grin on your face while reading Adam's words.
I know I did. Fellow introverts, we aren't spiritual misfits after all; we're normal! It made me realize that I owe an apology to all the introverts whose insights and contributions I have not understood or have overlooked. McHugh's perceptions are crucial for churches in our extremely extroverted society; we are missing some of God's best treasures for Christ's body.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who wishes more thoroughly to understand the Holy Spirit's creation of a diversity of personalities and gifts. Read it and heal. But I have also seen how powerful introverts can be once they embrace the gifts of a quiet and thoughtful temperament. In this deeply felt and beautifully reasoned guide for introverts in the church, pastor Adam McHugh shows the way for introverted Christians to find peace within themselves and their community.
If you've ever felt vaguely sinful for not being a gregarious Christian I suggest you spend some quality time alone with a copy of Introverts in the Church. After spending time engaging with others, I felt so empty and overwhelmed. With my calling as an author and pastor requiring me to publicly speak and consult, I wondered if I misunderstood my place in this world. In Introverts in the Church, Adam brings a voice to those of us who often trade ours in for a little bit of respite. This is not only a needed resource for introverts; all leaders need to read Introverts in the Church for a better understanding of how introverts can lead, how they follow, and how they refresh.
McHugh unpacks the challenges and characteristics of the introvert leader in a ministry world designed for extroverts. He offers practical guidance for developing as a leader, evangelizing, joining a community, preaching and becoming spiritually mature in Christ. The book not only helps introverts, but it can serve as a great resource for extroverts who lead, coach, mentor or relate to introverts.
The reason our church is sensitive to introverts is because our leaders have absorbed the insights of Adam's Introverts in the Church and become one of those places of grace for introverts and extroverts. Adam's voice on the topic of introverts resonated with so many people like me, who found themselves as introverts functioning in extroverted positions and living in an extroverted culture.
In many ways, through this book I was given permission to be myself, and I have continued this work with my clients each week in my private practice. I regularly recommend this book to both introverts and extroverts. My kids were small when the book was first released years ago, but now I realize two of them are introverts like me. I have a hopeful vision that the giftedness of the next generation of introverts will be honored and celebrated thanks to the fine work of Adam S.
McHugh in this timeless, important book. In this wonderful new edition of Introverts in the Church , Adam McHugh helps us see that there is a place for us in communities of faith. His wise observations are rooted in experience and deep study, and his advice is both practical and profound. So let us make a joyful quiet unto the Lord! This book puts together extremely helpful thinking to better understand who we are and how to navigate and celebrate being introverted and in leadership in an extroverted world.
McHugh thoughtfully explores the gifts introverts bring to the church, and he considers both how introverts can live well in the church and how churches can be more hospitable to us. It's the book for all churchgoers who have ever wanted to disappear into their seats when the pastor said, 'Turn and introduce yourself to three strangers.
The introvert who quietly reflects on her faith is as true a believer as the extrovert who preaches exuberantly to others. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist.