Where do Introverts fit into Ministry?
Well Blogger works now. They seemed to have a bug last weekend, I did some research, and even sent them some feedback. All is good now and now I can blog! I've missed it.
So some updates. Ninja mouse, well, ninja mouse has disappeared. After finding the two remaining places I felt they could get in we haven't had a problem at all. Of course the exterminator came too, so between the two our little friend has to find someone elses indian corn and candy corn to nibble on!
Last weekend Ginger and I went to the Art Walk in Tyler! They've moved it from Thursday's to Saturday's which allowed us the opportunity to go and visit the local artists. Ginger was running into alot of Tylerites she knew and I, well, I was checking out the art! Found a young lady who does graphite portrait work and it was really good! She's actually a senior in high school and just started drawing one day. But by far my favorite of the night was a place we ran upon by accident called the Coffin Shop. Yep, you heard me right. We were walking to a vendor and Ginger noticed iron grate doors open and a guitarist inside. We walked in, turned left and there it was. Talked to someone there who gave me a little history of the place, it was indeed a coffin factory at one time and one of the oldest buildings in Tyler. When we walked in Ginger said, "This is right up your alley." Indeed. The ambience, the feel of history. All through the night I was doing my best to be social for Ginger but my fun meter was getting pegged, then we walked in here and I felt, well, comfortable. Some of the art was a little on the dark side, but I get that. Sometimes its pain on a canvas, or exploring the outer bounds of what is "acceptable." And well, anyone who knows me knows I walk on the edge, breaking free of stereotypes and being original. And I came in contact with one of the organizers of the event here. Got her card, got in contact with her by email, and who knows but maybe one day some of my art (drawing or photography) will be at an Art Walk or Art in the Park.
And it seems one of the areas I've taken a liking to is the moon. Specifically through the tree shots where the moon glows. And I've started taking pictures of the sun too, coming up during the golden hour (when light is at it's best). I've got lots of ideas running through my head. I've been so busy with work and such but I still am able to etch out time each day for a couple of photographs. I'd absolutely love to take a picture of the bats that come out at dusk, but like lightning, it will be an exercise in patience.
So the other thing that I wanted to talk about was about introverts. Specifically where does an introvert fit into ministry? I've posed this question to others with no clear answers, even from leaders. Usually I get people who say I'm not an introvert. Sigh. Glad people know me better than myself. So an introvert primer. Introvert does not mean recluse. Introverts can be social, can talk in front of crowds, and basically do the things that extroverts find natural. Which is the key there, it is natural for an extrovert to be social. Ginger is an extrovert. She knows no stranger. Striking up a conversation with someone is second nature. Introverts however are different. Oh, we can fake it good sometimes, but it takes energy, work to do it. Extroverts charge up by being around people, introverts charge up by being alone. And when introverts start running on empty they close up, they shut down to conserve their energy, at least that is the way I am. We turn off. I use to do that when I got off work when I was first engaged to Ginger. Our premarital counselor told me to stay "on" for a little bit so when I came around Ginger I was engaged and we could communicate. It worked wonders. Ginger knows, however, when I'm at a point I need to rest. She understands I'm an introvert.
So the problem is that in ministry, everyone wants me to act extroverted. They want me to delegate (I hate delegating, I'd rather do it myself, this is not codepedency, it's preference). They want me to organize people get someone to do this, or do that. Look, that isn't my gift. I can get up in front of people and speak, and usually don't have a problem with that, unless I'm worn down. Where an extrovert can kick into their second nature, I don't have that. So where do my strengths as an introvert lie? Give me a task that doesn't involve delegation, or lining people out, etc. and I will be as dependable as you can be. Once I know the task I'll do it without being told. Tasks that don't involve organizing, talking to people much, like writing, or even photography, setting things up, tearing things down, building things. Being a helper, being the man behind the man or woman is where I really excel. Because usually your given tasks to do. Unless of course that task is, go find 3 people and do this. No, get a people person for that. For example. Lead maintenance where I work and I are putting in a door. We get the door there and get the tools. If tools are missing I'll go get said tools. Then as he begins doing the work I know the steps and hand him the tools he needs as he needs them. If he leaves, I know the steps and continue them without being told. He doesn't need to ask. The helper. It makes things go quicker. And the bonus to that is, I know how to put in a door, I've done it myself before, and all because I was a helper and learned. Which is the best way for introverts like me to learn. Watch, help, implement. I know that has nothing to do with ministry but these principles apply outside of ministry too. And that is how I learn. Don't give me a 5 minute primer and then sink or swim leave me alone. Spend some time with me so that I understand the new task. But in this fast pace world where everyone has 50 things going on at once, no one has time to spend time with anyone like that it seems.
When an introvert gets comfortable around people, say like at my job, then we get comfortable and talk and act normal. However, before that time they are quiet. When I first started working at my job I was known as the quiet one. Which I was. But as I've gotten more comfortable, I've opened up a little bit. When that whole mess about someone saying I wasn't trustworthy and don't tell Paul because he'll tell it came out I closed up. Natural reaction for an introvert. I'm opening up a bit more now, but people don't realize that what you say inevitably gets back to the person your talking about (like someone was sharing my blog and facebook posts with another person who came to me and told me about it, thinking that I was talking about them. Lots of boyfriends and girlfriends and they think I'm talking about them. Sigh, could have saved the person alot of aggravation if they'd have come to me. Instead I'm told by someone else about it.)
The funny thing is that when Ginger and I are together and she is feeling bipolary and we are out, she will shut down and I will instinctively become the extrovert so that Ginger's mood can level out. When her mood is fluxuating, stimulation from talking is hard, so I step in. Funny how that works.
So all this said, where does the introvert fit into ministry? Does an introvert have to step out of their comfort zone? No is the answer to that. God made me this way. I want you to hear that again, God made me this way. Don't try to change me into what you want. Yes, God works through me in weakness but I don't think that means going against my nature of how God made me. I have strengths, and want to utilize them as God intended. I think sometimes people try to force people to become what they want, usually because they have a need they need fulfilled. I'm great one on one, and Ginger swears I'm a great counselor and encourager. One on one I'm great because then I get to know the person.
Ginger and I stepped away from ministry for a season. We were tired, burned out, and I had questions in my heart that I needed to seek answers to. This was one of those questions. If you haven't figured it out I love writing. And I know lots of introverts that do. It helps me to get my thoughts out and organize them. You may not agree with all that I've said, and that's okay, but I speak from experience because I AM an introvert.