Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Introvert or Extrovert: What Kind of Youth Leader Are You?

    How does your personality influence your ministry with youth?

    Are you an introvert or an extrovert (or somewhere in between)? Introverts recharge their physical/emotional/spiritual batteries through moments of solitude. Extroverts charge their batteries by being with others. Consider: Does your place on this continuum have any influence on your ministry with youth? I've been wondering about this lately. Though I certainly think that crazy games and activities have their place in youth ministry, I tend to prefer to develop activities for youth that are contemplative, restful, based in conversation and in small groups. I'm an introvert so this makes complete sense. Conversely, I've noticed that extrovertish youth ministers tend to develop youth programs full of high energy activities and outings, with loud music and lots movement.

    So what about you? As you look at the kind of youth ministry you help to shape, does your personality on the introversion-extroversion scale seem to have an influence? And if so, what does this say about the ministries we are developing? Are they more about us or more about those we serve? I don't have an answer to this but I do think the issue is intriguing. -- Brian


    Anonymous said...

    Thanks first, for validating that there is a place in youth ministry for the introverts. I've found (especially during my last job search) that although never explicitly stated, extroversion tends to be an expectation.

    Second, your post brings up a good point. None of us are created the same...and that's purposeful on God's part! That requires us to operate within a community, surrounding ourselves with a team of others who are not like us. The students we shepherd are not all the same, and neither should we be.

    dev said...

    Good food for thought. I like that you define extroversion/introversion up front. How do you charge your batteries? I am somewhere in between leaning very slightly toward introversion.

    There is quite a difference between gaining energy from solitude/other people and noise vs quiet/high energy vs contemplation. An introvert can run in solitude or play video games (I'd call that high energy). An extrovert can be at home walking a labyrinth with other people around. So I'm not sure that explains the differences noted between using high energy activities or contemplative ones.
    I am very contemplative and tend to offer those kinds of activities but I'd hardly call myself an introvert.

    That said, I am certain your personality influences how you do ministry. But more importantly recognizing that your own personality and the personalities of those in your ministry may be different is really the key. How are they fed? Can you offer something for each type and still keep yourself from being burnt out (uncharged batteries)? I think the answer is yes!

    Brian said...

    There is definitely a place for introverts in ministry. In fact, the best pastors I know have all tended to be introvertish. For myself, I can be an extrovert when needed--it just takes a lot out of me!

    I think both of you make the same good point -- that the people we serve are all different. It's important that remember this as we design programming so that we are meeting the needs of the various personality types within our care, and not just designing activities that make us feel comfortable. This is also a good argument for drawing together a youth ministry staff of introverts, extroverts, and something in between!

    RJ said...

    Great question or thought... I'd like to add that even if the groups we are connected with do show the marks of our personality, that's not necessarily a negative... but like many things a little knowledge can do a lot!!
    I've noticed the personaility thing in a microcosm of other things like Easter Camps with different 'communities' within it... and the way different groups reflect the personality of the team leading them [thay'll also gain energy and peak and slide differently].
    It's definitely something to be aware of, especially if that also means showing our strengths and weaknesses...
    Thanks, I'll be pondering this for days now!!

    Adam S. McHugh said...

    I thought I would let you know that I've written a book on the subject of introverts in the church, that will be published by InterVarsity Press in October. I devote two chapters to introverts in leadership and ministry. Here's the link: