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I am an introvert. With all my public appearances on Sunday mornings, this surprises many people. But in my private life and with those closest to me, there is no questioning that fact. If anything, the larger our church has grown, the more introverted I have become. I wish I were otherwise, but this is how I am wired.

Here are 7 pitfalls of being an introverted pastor:

1. People often think I’m arrogant, aloof, or unfriendly. Now, I may be a lot of negative things, but those are not really the main three. I sometimes have to go back and apologize once I hear someone thinks I avoided them. This happens especially with extremely extroverted people.

2. I sometimes hesitate to make the connections I should and miss opportunities to build my network.

3. I’m worn out after a long day of talking and need time alone to rejuvenate, which can impact my family time if I’m not careful. It also leads to people at the end of the day telling me I look tired…guess what? I am!

4. Crowded rooms, which I love in terms of reaching people for Christ, are actually intimidating to me as a person.

5. I’m not as quick-witted when in crowds, and when I try to be, I sometimes appear awkward on first impressions.

6. I realize the need to talk with people…it’s what I do, but wrestling through the introverted tendencies actually adds even more stress to my life.

7. If I’m not careful, and thankfully I’m fairly disciplined here, I will close out people from really knowing me, which subjects me to all kinds of temptations, anxiety and even depression.

How’s that for transparency?

Are you an introvert? Do you see how it impacts your work?

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been in full-time ministry for over eight years.  

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Jonathan Filson

commented on Jan 7, 2012

I can totally identify with you and being bi-vocational it seems to make it harder to make the extra time to be sure that I have made the outreach to be relational.

Christian Cheong

commented on Jan 7, 2012

Thanks for sharing. I can identify with you, because I am just like you. Yet amazingly, God wants to use us to be preachers of His Word!

Joel Rutherford

commented on Jan 7, 2012

Ron, this shows great self-awareness (which in itself is important in overcoming the negatives). I, too, have come to recognize many of these same qualities in myself. You've identified the problems well, but haven't offered much in the way of coping with the downside or compensating. I'd love to hear your insight and experience. For example, as an introvert, as I focus on listening or speaking I often look down or off in this distance. I wasn't even aware of this for years. Now I make a conscious effort to look people in the eyes. Do you have other helpful ideas?

Wilson Spencer

commented on Jan 7, 2012

I also feel like I'm an introvert, although I pastor a congregation and sing in a Southern Gospel group. I always feel intimidated when I see a crowd that I have to preach to or sing to, but once the ball gets rolling, the Lord gives me a great sense of peace. No one would believe that I'm an introvert, because I seem outgoing and personable, but it is something I have to make a conscious effort at. I just remember that Jesus usually calls us out of our comfort zones, so if it were too easy, I'd have reason for concern.

Marvin Penner

commented on Jan 7, 2012

I fit this description well. But I think it should be balanced by 7 blessings of being an introverted pastor. Just of the top of my head a few ideas: 1) because I love spending time alone in study my church gets good deep original teaching 2) I do especially well in one on one long term discipleship and leadership development 3) I don't feel the need to be the center of attention, 4)I'm not offended when people don't need me 5) Introverts tend to be more drawn to prayer 6) I'm good at the kind of important tasks that most people hate like rewriting bylaws 7) I rely on lay ministers to fill in some of my weaknesses which encourages them to grow and makes the church stronger then if I did everything.

Kelly Mitchell

commented on Jan 7, 2012

I too can well relate and have found this to be a major handicap in my ministry. Like Ron, I have been perceived as many things that I am not simply because its just not my nature to seek out new relationships. I have to constantly remind myself that it is critical that I do these things and pretty well schedule times and people to go visit. I need my alone time as well and am guilty of assuming that others feel the same. Its not that I don't want to go and visit with this people so much as I am afraid of interrupting or intruding upon people. But I also find that in the pulpit or other speaking venues, I'm very comfortable and relaxed. I'm ready to go, any subject, any time, anywhere... I say all of that to say this, if this sounds like you, it may be time to see a physician. Through a bizarre set of circumstances I ended up getting tested for and diagnosed with Adult ADD. Argue all you want about whether ADD exists or not, all I know is that when my ADD is managed, I actually seek out alone time with people. I'm less worried about what they are thinking about me and thinking more about what I can do for them. I plan to publish soon about my experience but please feel free to message me if you want more information. It has SAVED my ministry. I'm a far better Pastor, husband, and father.

Sheldon Boyd

commented on Jan 7, 2012

WOW! I thought I was the the only pastor with this problem. I can relate to EVERY word in this article. I often wonder if this why i have always pastored small churches. I struggle with the feelings that I don't think I can ever change and am I supposed to change myself? Shouldn't I celebrate the man God created or did God get it wrong? Yes I know that improvements can and should be made but can I actually experience a FULL change of who I am?

Peter Thomas

commented on Jan 7, 2012

After 25 years in minstry I recognise more than ever that my personality is introvert, and experience all the pitfalls most helpfully listed. Gary Thomas's book "Spiritual pathways" helped me to see that the forms of spirituality which are most helpful to me are contemplative, naturalist, intellectual and ascetic, which is why I find silent retreats so much more helpful than lively conferences. In today's celebrity culture it is easy for introvert pastors and preachers to feel irrelevant. In fact I believe we have a great deal to offer, and not only to the very many other introverts who struggle to find a place in many churches today.

Pat Sampson

commented on Jan 7, 2012

I've been in the ministry for about 40 years and I'm still an introvert. The last 30 years have been bi-vocational. The numbers 2, 3, 5, and 6 above are the only ones that still bother me, but give me another 40 years and maybe I'll get past them. Thanks, Ron, for the info. God still uses us!

Alexander L. Gibson

commented on Jan 7, 2012

Ron thanks for your honest transparency. Although I'm not a pastor yet, I'm inspired toward that ministry. I too find myself in those same pitfalls, that is why I find it diffucult thinking that I too can be a pastor. With a current climate of the church wanting to turn to those who are extroverted, I wonder were is a place for those of us who are introverted, we know that God in Jesus Christ does not make mistakes.

commented on Jan 8, 2012

This article really caught my attention. Sadly, it describes our Pastor to a T. We have been attending his church for some 5 years now and lately have dropped out. To begin with, there are only me and my husband as regular members plus the Pastor's sister. So you are correct when you say small churches. He has always had an empty church. He strongly depends on others; such as opening and closing in prayer, Bible study is usually us or his sister. Even when he invites a singing group, we are always elected to open and close in prayer. At first we felt that was what God wanted, so we poured ourselves into this church; singing, sharing testimonials, etc. It is quite obvious that his entire family is all introverted as well; I say this with no condemnation but in love. I figured well maybe God wants us to give of ourselves rather than receive, but as time went on, we would arrive at church a little early and the Pastor would just sit in the front row staring at the floor. When service is over, he races to the door like he has an appointment which leaves us with no fellowshipping either. Recent sickness has kept us from church recently, but we prayed and decided it was time to move on. We had our season there. We mostly do church at home now and also communion which was also limited to only Easter and Christmas. I hear God speak to my heart and tell me to cast my net on the other side (wherever that is) I do believe that our Pastors net had a hole in it. It never got better, only more depending on us the church to keep it going. (((sigh)))

Jim Stow

commented on Jan 8, 2012

Hi Ron, thank you so much for your article. This was very courageous to be this transparent. I pray that God will bless you and bring favor in your life. Hi Kelly, I appreciate your comment and I would like to get more information about working with adult ADD if you are OK to provide it. I am a Pastor/Counselor. I do mostly counseling and ministry to individuals rather than pastoring a group. I am not gifted to preach, at least that is not yet evident and it is not my heart?s desire. I am a bit embarrassed to say that I never linked my ADD with my tendency to be introverted so thank you for helping me see this link. I don?t know about others but, for me, I feel less introverted, unsure and self-conscious when I am just myself and I don?t try to be someone else. If I fit in, I fit in. If I don?t fit in, I am no better off trying to be ?one of the group?, trying to be like them. As others have commented here, I am who God made me. I do better if I just accept that. I am not always successful but the Lord is helping me do better and better. I will probably be doing very well by the time He takes me home (a little humor here, I was getting too serious and heavy.) If you have information for me, you can send it to: jim-stow@hotmail.com. Thanks.

Angela De Souza

commented on Jan 8, 2012

Hello my name is Angela and I am an.... introvert! I do my best but on bad days I avoid people.... not really something the pastor's wife should be doing is it. I don't mind preaching, I love it, but small talk drives me nuts, I simply cannot sit around and have small talk for too long. Thanks for sharing, it's a brilliant post :)

Dean Johnson

commented on Jan 8, 2012

I REALLY like what Marvin (#5 below) added to the discussion--that there are benefits to being this way as a pastor too.

Gary Maaser

commented on Jan 10, 2012

I can be introverted as well. However, being baptized in the Holy Spirit makes all the difference. Just like the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost. What a difference when Peter was baptized. He will do it for every introverted person as well. The bible says, "Ask and you will receive."

Randy Hartwig

commented on Jan 12, 2012

Hey Gary.....I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1971, been pastoring all these years and I am still quite shy UNTIL I get to know people. The Spirit changed my life and gave me a great teaching, preaching and writing ministry but He didn't change my personality. I am bold under the anointing and almost the opposite when I'm done. After a relationship has formed I can be the "life of the party", but I am terrible with folks I don't know. I really relate to Marvin's comments #5. I accept who I am in Christ, but I understand so well that I need the rest of the Body to function effectively. That's not really a bad thing at all.

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