the shape of leadership

The Introverted Minister

You don’t have to be naturally outgoing to lead

Kent Ingle on February 20, 2020

There is a common misconception that to be a church leader today, you must be an extrovert.

The assumption is all pastors are energetic on the platform, charismatic with each new visitor, and eager to share their lives on social media.

This could not be further from the truth. Not everyone who feels led to youth ministry is gregarious. Not everyone with a passion to teach the Word is outgoing. Not everyone with a heart to serve people has all the skills for leading them. And that’s OK.

A person can be a pastor, youth director or small group facilitator without being a natural-born leader. From extroverts to introverts and everything in between, anyone who desires to minister and lead in the church has the capacity to do so. Regardless of whether it comes naturally, the skills for any role of leadership are well within reach.

Introverted leaders can be very effective in ministry, though some skills may require cultivation. Here are five ways to learn to lead in ministry as an introvert:

1. Be intentional about communication. It may be the most difficult thing for introverts, but it is imperative that you don’t wait for people to come to you. Introverts often have a reputation of being self-consumed and uninterested in others. It may be unfair, but it can appear that way to some if you don’t communicate with those around you.

If you are prepared to learn and grow, you are prepared to lead.

Make it a priority to interact regularly with members of your team and congregation. Sometimes the greatest ministry opportunities happen through conversations with individuals.

2. Ignore the imposter syndrome. Never fall into the belief that you were not made for this. Your faith shouldn’t rest in your strengths but in God’s grace. Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” Leaders come with a variety of personalities and characteristics. There is not one exclusive type of leader.

3. Take the initiative. Leaders must communicate standards, policies and clear boundaries. While this may be out of your comfort zone, it’s important for clarifying the vision for your team and resolving issues before they become bigger problems. When the need arises for hard conversations or work culture changes, lead the way.

4. Never try to shoulder all the work yourself. Delegating is a key component of leading. Introverts in ministry are often tempted to do everything themselves. But this works against team development. It will also lead to burnout and ultimately keep you from the vital mission of building a community.

5. Don’t deny who you are. Just because you are introverted or quiet does not mean you have to change who you are to be a compelling leader. When you are true to yourself, your traits and your attributes, your leadership skills will grow.

Don’t allow stereotypes to misrepresent what it means to be a leader or divert you from your potential to minister to others. As with most things in life, there is a learning curve in ministry — regardless of your personality. If you are prepared to learn and grow, you are prepared to lead.

More importantly, if you are passionate about your relationship with Christ, and about developing knowledge of His Word and sharing His love, you are more than capable of leading.

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