The Introverted Leader
Fortunately, disappointment has not been my only fellow traveler on this road. I have also been accompanied by hope: hope in the calling, healing, and transformative power of God. My journey has not been guided by my own heroism or impressive displays of faithfulness, but by God's sovereignty. The same mysterious force that seemed to prevent me from depositing my resignation that day has also been a constant voice calling me into church ministry, parachurch ministry, and chaplaincy. God is bringing me through a process of self-acceptance, both in terms of my introvert identity and also in terms of the gifts and contributions I bring to the Christian community.
Hiding out with Moses
In the archetypal story of a reluctant leader (Exodus 4:10-13), Moses protests the call of God every time God's voice summons him. Though leaders of all personality types have balked at God's calling, Moses' personality and life exhibit the telltale signs of introversion. Exodus 4:10 literally reads "I am not a man of words … but I am heavy-tongued and heavy-mouthed." Most introverts can relate to the feeling of our tongues sticking to the floors of mouths, our lips straining to move. We have hesitated and stuttered, not out of torpor but out of the need to think before speaking. We have hoped, along with Moses, that God will excuse us from the harrowing task of leadership because of our fears of failure and rejection, because of our nightmare of ineloquence on a public stage.
From the beginning of Moses' story, the narrative theme that stands out is that of hiding. Under the cover of two fierce midwives, Moses' mother looked into the eyes of her newborn son and knew she must hide him from the bloodthirsty Egyptians. After he became too big to conceal, she made an ark for him and hid him among the overgrowth of reeds along the river bank. Discovered, he was raised in the home of the Pharaoh's daughter until, one day, he came across a fellow Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian.
So Moses killed the Egyptian and then hid his body in the sand. After Pharaoh heard of this, he aimed to kill Moses, who fled and hid in a foreign land. Then, as a shepherd in Midian, Moses drove his flock "beyond the wilderness" (Ex 3:1). I get the sense that Moses was escaping as far away as he possibly could, a warrior turned shepherd, a leader turned alien, an introvert turned refugee. Even when the Lord appeared to him in a blaze of fire, with a voice declaring the transcendent Name, Moses hid behind his fears, and then behind the elocution and charisma of his brother, Aaron. Moses went before the Hebrew people and into Pharaoh's throne room clutching his brother's coattails.