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Get Thee a Sisterhood—Post Script

Fellowship looks different for introverts and extroverts

"I see a blind spot in your article."

Dan, a friend who pastors a church in Rochester, New York, wrote in response to my "Get Thee a Sisterhood" articles posted in March. (Click here to read Part 1, and here to read Part 2.)

"I do affirm the articles' primary points: the dangers of isolation, that the distinctive demands of pastoral ministry require support from those who understand those demands, that such support should be intentional, and that, for women, the situation is even more distinctive, requiring that women network together," he said.

"The blind spot is one of extroverts. The kinds of support you describe highlight groups, describing group interaction as the best way for appropriate support to happen. All that is, to an introvert, discomforting."

Dan and I have engaged this topic several times. We laugh at the parts that we appreciate and love about one another that are completely opposite. These same parts can drive us crazy. Our differences are beyond simply "female stuff" and "male stuff." I am an extrovert, and Dan is an introvert. These are two dimensions of personality types, and they are grounded in how a person is energized.

Extroverts, says Psychology Today, comprise 50 to 74 percent of the American population. They are "social butterflies" who draw energy from the environment around them. They thrive on social interaction, enjoy being around people, and often fill their schedules with activities. "Extroverts learn by doing and enjoy talking through ideas and problems."

Introverts are energized by time alone and silence. People in the remaining 26 to 50 percent of the population tend to be introspective and contemplative. New relationships, loud social occasions, and intense or extended interaction with people drain them. Introverts "prefer to focus on one task at a time and observe a situation before jumping in."

Anyone in leadership should know whether she is an extrovert or an introvert. If you know how you gain energy, and how you need to go about recharging when you're depleted, you'll save yourself and your flock a lot of awkwardness and need for relationship repair. (If you don't know your personality type, fear not. Your mouse and your finger can help you figure it out. Click here to take a free personality inventory.)

More important, understanding yourself will help you better connect to God. This is crucial because we know that apart from God, we can do nothing (John 15:5). An extrovert might feel God's presence strongest on a mission trip, participating in a service project, or attending a revival with 10,000 of her closest friends. Her introverted sister, on the other hand, may crave a personal silent retreat, spiritual direction, or a solitary walk with God through a wooded area.

June10, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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