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The Introvert Leader’s Survival Guide

For example, it’s a statistical fact that introverts tend to dominate the most creative and innovative positions in most fields (consider Einstein, Warren Buffet, Stephan Spielberg, Steve Wozniak—Co-founder of Apple, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Dr. Seuss and Chris Martin—the brain behind Coldplay).

Introverts are more likely to develop their skills to exceptional degrees due to a higher level of focus (I can’t help but to think of my brilliant guitar playing friend Michael Gungor). They’re more likely to learn from mistakes…more likely to delay gratification. They’re hands down better at assessing complex decision involving risks and rewards (which is why introverts statistically dominate at poker).

And even though they’re devalued in American leadership structures, introvert dominant cultures like China now own the world. (So who gets the last laugh? … Probably still extroverts, cause introverts retired from the party a long time ago :).)

But if you’re a closet introvert, don’t fear. There’s a lot more of you out there than you think.

Here are a few coping techniques…

1. Don’t compare yourself to Brilliant Extroverts.

I have many extroverted pastor friends who can preach six services and spend every minute in between shaking hands—and people LOVE them!

Don’t get me wrong, I still try to do this as much as I can; but it costs me more. For years I considered quitting ministry because I couldn’t do this. I just didn’t fill “the role” I imagined pastors need to have. And, to boot, I have vocal problems that cause me to lose my voice rather quickly.

Thankfully, I’ve since torn up that script of an extrovert-ideal. Since then, I’ve also met numerous brilliant giga-church pastors (like Greg Surratt of Seacoast) who’ve built amazing churches without fulfilling the “extroverted ideal.”

And my staff now sarcastically jab me saying: “Pastor, you love people. You just don’t love them in person!” Of course, I don’t truly believe this statement; yet…I also didn’t become a good writer/church strategizer by talking all the time either.

2. Remember that God created you to win through different strengths.

You might not build your church on a thousand hand-shakes; but simply sowing your whole heart into six dynamic leaders can create the same impact. Besides, when we lead through our greatest strengths it can be a mind-blowing attractional force.

Steven Spielberg didn’t get his influence due to his networking prowess (although many producers do); instead, like many other successful introverts, he allowed his extra ability to focus (unique to introverts) to sharpen his skills to a mind-blowing level. And eventually this exceeding talent did all of the networking and magnetizing for him.

Don’t get me wrong: EVERY good leader needs to develop networking, magnetism and vision-casting skills regardless of their personality. But eventually you’ll find that there are some people who are exceptionally gifted for networking.

Don’t get discouraged; instead, make up for it by tapping into your focusing/thinking/listening skills.

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Although only in his mid-30's Pastor Peter Haas has already become a well known pastor, author and conference speaker. After experiencing a radical conversion to Christianity while working in a nightclub as a rave-d.j., Peter has travelled the world sharing about God's miraculous passion. Since relocating to Minneapolis Minnesota in 2004, Peter planted an arts-oriented multi-site church called Substance. In just a few short years, Substance has become one of the fastest growing and most youthful mega-churches churches in the United States. Over 70% of the thousands who participate in their community are under 30 years old.