The Introverted Leader
Mature introverted leaders have learned how to monitor their energy levels. They are experts in knowing how to save and restore their energy. Therefore, if introverts want endurance and joy in ministry and in their personal lives, we must be thoughtful about scheduling. When I was a hospice chaplain, I learned to space out my appointments with patients so that I would have recovery time between meetings. More importantly, I had to learn how to decline even appealing invitations when they interfered with my rhythms of self-care. To an introverted leader, the magic word may not be "please;" it may be "no." I know an introverted pastor and sought-after conference speaker who, during busy months, will preschedule "NOTHING" days into his calendar a few days per month when he bans himself from any events or meetings. He shares his calendar with a few trusted friends who hold him accountable to leave those days open.
However, even as we are intentional about our scheduling, we must leave room for the surprising work of God. Introverts can become so absorbed in our internal worlds that we miss the needs of others around us. Our scheduling and emotional boundaries must not preempt the divine interjections that shape so much of our identity and our work. We must remember that the events that form the foundation of our calling—the incarnation of the Son of God and his resurrection from the dead—were cosmic interruptions in a world that had grown callous to God's love.
This article was adapted from Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. © 2009 by Adam S. McHugh. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515.
Adam S. McHugh is a Presbyterian pastor, spiritual director, and retreat leader. He lives in Claremont, California.
Copyright © 2011 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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