Introverts Don’t Make Good Pastors

Or, maybe they do.

  • I’m a pastor and an introvert.
  • I get energy from being alone.
  • Being with people for long periods of time drains me, although I  have strong people skills.
  • I love to read.
  • I go on silent retreats.
  • After church every Sunday I need to spend time without high people interaction.
  • Did I say I am an introvert?

Am I automatically disadvantaged as a pastor?

Do only the gregarious, back slapping pastors lead big churches?

Some  years ago I learned that my introversion offended a church leader where I once served. We held an overnight leadership retreat at a local retreat center. After the last session ended around nine, we provided snacks and games. At about ten, I went to bed as was my habit. Most of the other leaders stayed up past midnight. Had I stayed up with them, I would have been toast for the sessions to follow the next morning.

I learned months later that my leaving the group to go to bed offended him. He brought it up more than once. He was an extrovert and did not like me yielding to my introversion.

Should I have stayed up to “work the crowd?” Perhaps. But that incident illustrates the challenges introverts often face when they serve in ministry.

As I’ve pondered this issue more deeply, I read the book Quiet, the Power of Introverts that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a great read. As an introvert, Susan presents a compelling case for the the power of introverts. If you are an introvert, you will feel affirmed if you read it.

Here’s a good article on introverts here.

If you are an introvert, what challenges have you experienced in ministry?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great post! While you may know this, 75% of the general population are extroverts. From independent research I have done, 84% of pastors are extroverts. Not surprising, really.

    Does that leave you and other introverts in deep trouble? No! A study of pastors who had lead their congregation in a turnaround from plateau or decline, found that extroversion was not a statistically significant difference. Of course, turnaround leadership is not the only thing that matters in ministry. It is not insignificant either.

    This is one example that introversion, while different, is not a deal-breaker in ministry. While I can’t verify this, I think many excellent preachers are introverts too.

  • Sean Nemecek

    As an introvert I have a hard time making new friends because I already have a small group of close friends (what most introverts prefer). This is a sticking point for my board because I am not as evangelistic as they think I should be. They want me to be out meeting new people all the time. However, I find I’m most effective for the Kingdom when I’m helping people strengthen the faith they already have. Not that I ignore evangelism, I’ve just found that my gifts are not best used in that area.