"Move it, mister!”
It was 8:01 P.M., and I was being particularly curt with my friend DeCarlo.
“Got your coat? Got your hat? Come on, let’s go. Go, go, go,” I badgered.
I was DeCarlo’s ride home from Reality Ministries, a community center for people with and without disabilities, and I was itchy to get out the door. Over the previous 90 minutes, we’d eaten pizza, shared, sung, watched silly skits, and heard a short Bible message.
Wait, did I mention it was noisy?
When I say noisy, I mean there were 100 people in the room, and, at any given moment, 87 of them were speaking. Loudly. So although the love and joy and smiles at Reality were a true slice of heaven, for someone like me—an introvert, overwhelmed by more than one stimulus, who’s most vivified by thinking creative thoughts in a chamber of silence—it had become a hard space in which to be.
It was difficult to gather my thoughts.
I became distressed.
I felt undone.
I was short-tempered.
It was hard to be my best self.
Most Tuesday nights I teetered between wanting to shove a fork in my own eye and plunging it into someone else’s.
That evening, when I was unglued and crabby with my good friend DeCarlo, became a turning point in understanding how God had made me and how God calls me to serve. It let me know that the opportunity to “minister” in a crowd of 100 people—who were guaranteed to speak to me, and high-five me, and shout at me, and hug me, usually simultaneously—might not have my name on it.
Introverts and the Church
Whether it’s the youth minister who connects with kids at football games, the pastor who greets several hundred people on a Sunday morning, or the soul who’s befriending folks who live outdoors, many of the church’s most easily identifiable ministries seem best suited to extroverts. This isn’t to say that only extroverts are doing them. Lots of introverts do them too. We shake hands and attend potlucks and chat with strangers after church and dip into wedding receptions. We just have to go home and recover in isolation afterwards.
It’s stressful. Some ministry events are so stressful for introverts that we dodge them—or leave early or make excuses for not taking part.
Have you ever felt this way about most of the ministry opportunities at your church?
- Great idea—except that it means I have to meet new people. Lots of them.
- I’d love to. If it didn’t mean talking in front of others.