Can an INTROVERT Really Be a Pastor?

I have made no secret of my introversion. In fact, being open and honest about it has been a great relief to me. I think a number of people understand me better.

One gift I wish I had been given when I served as a pastor in four different churches was a mentor who would share with me how to function as an introverted pastor. I made a ton of mistakes! I hope my experiences, both bad and good, will prove to be meaningful to pastors today.

I have written them in the form of seven tips.

1. You just have to mingle sometimes.

I really don’t like small talk. When you mingle before or after a worship service or some other church event, you hear a lot of small talk.

My temptation was always to avoid mingling so I could avoid such conversations. Unfortunately, pastors are perceived to be unfriendly and uncaring if they don’t mingle.

Force yourself to get out among the members frequently for short periods of time.

2. You just have to counsel people sometimes.

I avoided counseling for more than one reason.

First, I never felt like I was equipped or trained to counsel. Second, I am task-oriented with the temptation to advise someone on three easy steps to get his or her life in order. Third, my introversion pushes me away from conversations with people I don’t know well.

But pastors can’t avoid all counseling. My counseling load tended to diminish over time because people left our sessions feeling worse than when they arrived.

3. You just have to attend a few social events.

I’m probably wearing out the introverted pastor with these first three tips. But pastors who avoid all mingling, all counseling and all social events tend to be viewed as impersonal and uncaring.

While an introvert should never plan too much interaction, that pastor must be involved to some level.

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Thom Rainer
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.