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Taking Care of the Introverts in Your Youth Ministry

Taking Care of the Introverts in Your Ministry

Recently a new book by Susan Cain was released! Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts (A guide for KIDS and TEENS)

It landed on my doorstep and I made the clumsy assumption that I could crack it open and read a few pages without wanting to stay up until 3 a.m. reading the rest of it.

It’s a good thing I’m a mom and my kids prefer a human parent over having a sort of resembles a human but resembles a zombie more parent to wake up to in the morning so I didn’t stay up all night devouring it. I did read a good chunk of it in between putting a new couch together with my husband and putting our kids to bed repeatedly. (What is it about this time of year when school is almost over for the summer and the kids will not stay in their beds and they think it is their job to make you crazy with trips for water and random “mozying about” the house at all hours? Someone please tell me how to make it stop.)

I digress.

The point, I wanted to read the whole book all at once. I wanted to ditch everything to do it. Because being able to tell a kid that they have a hidden superpower is something I want to do more often.

Reading the words “we should be scheduling daydreaming into the extracurriculars” are words I want to wrestle with, how do we do this better in youth ministry—in all of the ways a teenagers is growing developmentally?

I want to connect Susan’s ideas with the youth ministry context because one-third to one-half of the students in our youth ministries are introverted. And in my ministry experiences, three-quarters of our programs and ideas nurture the extroverted nature. Think worship, think loud, think games, think camps, think…think…think…what are the ways we are intentionally giving introverts access to things that light them up and energize them?

How does youth ministry as a function and as a group of loving leaders empower a quiet one in…

…the cafeteria

…the classroom

…group projects

…in leadership

…in friendship

…at parties

…with extroverted friends

…with creativity

…in sports

…with adventure

…in changing the world (there is a quiet way!)

…in the spotlight

…in their restorative niches (home)

…in their family

(These are the chapters of Susan’s book! So, we have answers! Praises and more praises.)

The quiet revolution has so much to teach us! Obviously, you can pick up the book and start making your own observations and connections but I want to give you a few quick connections that I made in my brief overview of one of the chapters. I hope to spend more time thinking about how we can give support to the QUIET population in our youth ministries by asking the question:

How can we love introverts best?

How can we empower the quiet leaders?

It’s not proven by science, but my adult life tells me that I have been accidentally mixed up as an “extrovert.” Growing up I was told that I light up a room, that people are energized by me. That’s a good thing! So, why after leaving a room did I feel depleted? What I wasn’t hearing anyone say was “when you light up a room you use all of the energy you have so you’ll need to cocoon away for a few moments or days to recharge again, you’ll need space for your thoughts and for your creativity and it’s WAYYYYY OKAYYY to feel like you need to disconnect for a little while.” I wish I didn’t feel like a total social nincompoop/dipwad/social loser wanting to leave a party at 8 p.m. when everyone else was just getting started. These are things we know about now and can coach kids to understand now!