Preaching Introversion

Often, my ideas for posts come from random moments in my everyday life that I feel like I can talk more about.

In this instance, I was talking to a classmate (even studying abroad, there’s one student from my home campus here, too), and we were talking about our future plans. He told me that after getting his bachelor’s degree, he wants to go to a seminary.

The thought has never really crossed my mind to go into such a field as theology or ministry, but it has piqued my interest ever since that encounter. While I am not a frequent churchgoer, a big reason stems from my distaste for its rigid structure. I prefer to study and pray on my own. But with my fondness for spirituality in general, I feel like I could impart some wisdom on some people or potentially make the church setting more welcoming for all.

The immediate problem I considered in my thoughts, however, is my temperment. Perhaps it sounds shallow to say, “I’m not big on talking to people, so I’d rather not.” But just from the minimal experience I’ve had in a workplace, I have already narrowed down that I don’t want to be stuck in a typical, monotonous office setting nor do food service.

Since my future plans thus far involve helping others and loving what I do, my options are fairly open. But different positions are made for different personalities. That’s just where we gravitate.

When I think of ministry work, I see lots of talking in front of people, big and small scale. Stereotypical images of booming voices and impassioned sermons come to mind. Heck, I can barely talk loud enough in normal conversation.

Although I do see challenges for these situations involving quiet temperments in loud places, I think that if you have an interest in a cetain field, you shouldn’t hold yourself back from what you love. If you reasonably find your calling in a certain career path, go for it.

Most of the world in general is made for extroverted people. That’s unavoidable. We have to be in those uncomfortable situations to learn how to adapt sometimes, and those opportunities will offer us greater insight.

But don’t forget to respect yourself and your own needs. There are certainly introverted pastors out there, just like there are introverted teachers and business people. As much as half of the population leans more toward introversion. Although it can feel isolating to be a quiet, contemplating person, there are others just like you. You are by no means alone.

A key theme I see when talking about intro/extroversion is balance. There is a time and place for both, and we all need to be in those settings at some point. Introverts cannot cower in fear and avoid public speaking forever, just as extroverts might cower away from ever leaving a moment in silence.

Especially in an area like religion, I think introversion is crucial to provide the insight and wisdom required of the job. You have to be with yourself and the spiritual influences in silence to hear them. A strength in that area will lead to greater confidence and success in the way you preach and present yourself.

Ministry doesn’t necessarily advertise one way or another as to who should enter such a field, but I think it would be valuable to have people from any temperment to demonstrate how they perform their duties. And just from personal experience, comparison will never help. You have to be open to the feedback you receive and learn from it.

Moral of the story: sometimes the biggest obstacle in your way is yourself. You are capable of anything you set your mind to. Listen to yourself and your true desires and follow them, for they will be the most fulfilling. Don’t be afraid to take a “leap of faith” (ha, puns) and do the thing that brings you true happiness and joy, bound to be full of quiet and loud moments alike.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie


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