The Introverted Pastor – an oxymoron, or my life story?

I read a post earlier this evening on Inside the Writer from a fellow blogger and friend entitled The Introverted Extrovert. In it she wrote: “I frequently find myself in the middle of the introvert vs. extrovert debate. For some odd reason, it seems to be of the utmost importance for people to be able to slot themselves into one or the other of these labels.” (You can read her entire post HERE).

extrovert

In her post, she referenced an article on the Huffington Post: 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert. In this original post, the writer Carolyn Gregoire says, “People are frequently unaware that they’re introverts -– especially if they’re not shy — because they may not realize that being an introvert is about more than just cultivating time alone. Instead, it can be more instructive to pay attention to whether they’re losing or gaining energy from being around others, even if the company of friends gives them pleasure.”

As a pastor whose job is all about people, and because I am very comfortable in speaking to large crowds, many people automatically assume that I am an extrovert. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to go through the 23 signs myself and see if the 23 signs point towards my introversion…

Not sure if you’re an innie or an outie? See if any of these 23 telltale signs of introversion apply to you.

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

Gregoire says that introverts are notoriously small talk-phobic, as they find idle chatter to be a source of anxiety, or at least annoyance. For many quiet types, chitchat can feel disingenuous. True! I have a hard time sitting around talking about the weather.

2. You go to parties – but not to meet people.

True. I don’t mind going to parties or social gatherings, but when I do, I am much more comfortable hanging around in the corner chatting one on one with someone I already know, rather than going out of my way to find and meet new people.

3. You often feel alone in a crowd.

This one is definitely true of me! When I am at a large crowd or gathering of people, I can oftentimes feel alone.

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.

True – definitely not a fan of networking.

5. You’ve been called “too intense.”

I love deep philosophical or religious conversations and discussing thought-provoking books – especially by old dead dudes like Charles Spurgeon and many other authors most people haven’t heard of. But I guess not everyone feels the same way. Apparently, this makes me a textbook introvert.

6. You’re easily distracted.

Squirrel! Hey – anyone who’s ever heard me preach before knows how easily I can be distracted.

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.

As much as I work hard when I’m working, I love downtime. I love being home alone and curling up with a good book when things are quiet. This is how I recharge my batteries.

relaxing

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.

SO true! I don’t get stressed out preaching, teaching or public speaking – in fact, it quite energizes me and is one of my passions. But if I’m speaking at a place where I don’t know anyone, I get most stressed out at the prospect of mingling with people after the talk.

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle. 

Absolutely true. And if I’m at the movies, the theatre, or at church, I always have to sit on the aisle seat. I don’t want to be surrounded by people on all sides!

10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.

If I’ve been out and around people for too long, I can tend to get tired and unresponsive. Gregoire says that this is likely because I’m trying to conserve energy. She says, “Everything introverts do in the outside world causes them to expend energy, after which they’ll need to go back and replenish their stores in a quiet environment.”

11. You’re in a relationship with an extrovert.

Um yeah, has anyone met my wife Liza, AKA “Party in a Box”?

12. You’d rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.

Not really on this one.

13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.

Actually, this one doesn’t really bother me that much.

14. You screen all your calls — even from friends.

Not really true of me.

15. You notice details that others don’t.

“Research has found that introverts exhibit increased brain activity when processing visual information, as compared to extroverts.” I think this is true of me.

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.

I do often have an inner monologue going on, but not constantly. As a man, sometimes I like to go into my ‘nothing’ box, and I’m quite happy there. So we’ll say no on this one.

17. You have low blood pressure.

No.

18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.

Not really.

19. You don’t feel “high” from your surroundings.

True. I don’t get any kind of emotional high from parties or social gatherings.

20. You look at the big picture.

Yes, I believe I am a big picture person. (See one of my recent Weekly Funnies about Big Picture People).

21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”

Especially when I was younger, yes, but not so much anymore. I’ve learned to venture out of the shell… 🙂

22. You’re a writer.

Gregoire says, “Introverts are often better at communicating in writing than in person, and many are drawn to the solitary, creative profession of writing.” Very true of me!

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.

Yes – true.

So 17 out of 23 of these items are true of me, which doesn’t come as a surprise to me. So I am an introverted pastor – is that an oxymoron? I don’t think so. But because of the nature of my ‘job’, I am forced to come out of my shell more often, and therefore, I have learned to be an extroverted introvert. And I’m okay with that!

How about you – are you an introvert or an extrovert?

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About Chris Jordan

Husband. Father. Author. Pastor. High School Bible Teacher. Follower of Jesus. And I enjoy a good cup of coffee!
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3 Responses to The Introverted Pastor – an oxymoron, or my life story?

  1. I definitely fall in the “Yes.” range. Most of my answers could change daily. I was called an old soul in my teens, but I am now called a wise youthful person (I will be 30 in 2 months), and I definitely go through phases of work & solitude and social activity. I communicate about as well no matter which medium I use, and I can shut off my inner monologue, if I choose (it helps with listening to the Big Guy).. I both love and loathe small talk, speaking before large groups and then mingling, and mingling or not mingling at social gatherings. My wife varies in some answers, but she is basically the same. We have a tendency to be what the other needs for a given situation (such as one needing social energy when the other needs alone time, but we have to be with people).

    In other words, I tend to be that exception to most rules!

    • Chris Jordan says:

      Daniel,
      It’s interesting that you said you’re the exception to most rules. I think the reality is that everyone is part introverted and part extroverted, and that no one fits exclusively into one category or the other. As my friend Wendy wrote in her blog pots, she described herself as an introverted extrovert. I guess it doesn’t really matter what labels we use to describe ourselves (or even if we use them), as long as we understand ourselves and how we best function in life… thanks for adding your comments – have a blessed day today!

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