I am an introvert. Some people can question whether they are introverts or not. I don’t. I’m certified in Myers Briggs, so I know the language well. I’ve studied the concept, but it didn’t require much study or an assessment for me. I know I’m in the club.
As a pastor, it meant I was more tired when I went home on Sunday. It means I avoid certain crowds unless I have a clear purpose for being there. It means I usually run and exercise alone and I’m OK with that. It means I’m probably harder to get to know than some people. I get all that. I own it. It’s me.
I realize I have to work harder as a leader to allow my team to know me or what I’m thinking. I can’t allow introversion to be an excuse for poor leadership.
I’ve written before about the struggles of introversion in ministry and how I adapted with it as a pastor. What surprises me, however, is how misunderstood introverts are sometimes. There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted; maybe especially an introverted leader. (And, I know lots of pastors—even of very large churches—who are introverted.)
Here are seven false assumptions that have been made of me as an introvert:
That may be your word, but it’s not mine. I prefer purposeful for me. Others may call it something else. I talk when there’s a purpose and I’m not afraid to do so. Three-year-olds are shy when they hide behind their daddy. That’s not me.
Some have thought I must need more courage.
“Why I oughta!” (You’ll get that only if you are a Moe Howard-Three Stooges fan.) Seriously, I “ain’t chicken.” Again, when I choose to speak I’ll speak. Choosing not to isn’t a fear. It’s just being comfortable.
It’s been thought that I must not have anything to say.
Actually I have lots to say. Have you noticed I blog frequently? I wrote a book even. Have you noticed how often I update Twitter and Facebook? I have bunches to say. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t express it, but many times how I choose to communicate will be different than how others choose to communicate.
In some settings, when I’m quieter than others, it’s been assumed I’m not as intelligent as others in the room.
And, that’s probably true in a lot of ways; depending on the subject. I try to surround myself with people smarter than me. And, I listen well. Actually, I have a few degrees hanging on my wall. But, in some ways I think I may be smarter than the one who never quits talking. You know the one. I am less likely to say the thing I wish I hadn’t said, because I didn’t think before I talked. It happens, but not as often as it might for some.
Sadly, some have thought I am arrogant or don’t like people.
That is definitely not true. Honestly, I love everyone. I have a biblical commitment and a personal goal to do so. Whether or not I talk to you will not be a good determination of whether or not I like you. It might even mean I respect you enough to listen more than speak. Maybe.
Some have thought I need someone to talk for me.
And, actually I’d rather you not. Now that said, I sometimes let my wife talk for me. She’s good at it too. But, if I have an opinion I think needs sharing, I’ll speak for myself. Or regret later than I didn’t. But, either way, please don’t try to be my voice.
And, some have even told me I need to change, mature, or grow as a person or leader.
Yeah, I had that said a number of times as a pastor. But, let me assure you there’s nothing wrong with me. Actually, there’s a lot wrong with me, but introversion isn’t one of the things. I’m just quieter than some leaders you may know—or your immediate perception of a leader.
Those are some of the false assumptions that have been made of this introvert.
Introverts, what misunderstandings have been made about you?
This article originally appeared here.