Did you know that about 47% of American females are introverts?
I fall into that slight minority.
The funny thing about being an introvert is that we think (over think) a lot. We call it processing.
Well, I’ve been thinking about this post for a while… and today I want to chat about a few things you may or may not already know about roughly 47% of the women in your life.
One of those women just might be your pastor’s wife.
Who knows? You might even learn something about yourself! 😉
Before we go any further, let’s define an introvert as
Someone who draws emotional energy from being alone and processing her own thoughts, rather than drawing energy from the stimulus of circumstances or other people.
Since ministry is very people-oriented, it can often feel very over stimulating (and sometimes downright overwhelming) to a person who is wired as an introvert.
Someone who must “recharge” in solitude.
Someone with a built-in need for emotional respite and privacy.
Someone like me. And, quite possibly, you.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Please keep reading!
On the chance that your pastor’s wife is the introvert, type, here are four things that very likely may be true about her:
1) She’s Emotionally Reserved (but that Doesn’t Mean She’s Cold)
I can’t speak for all introverts, but personally I am very “in control” of my emotions… or, at least how I express them in social settings.
Very few situations or people can move me to tears, anger, or ecstasy… in public.
The good side of this is that I’m not easily pulled into drama, and I’m typically not prone to overreacting in tense situations.
The downside: this characteristic can make me, and others like me, seem a bit “cold” or detached. In fact, we introverts can often seem disinterested or unfeeling, simply because we don’t readily express what we are feeling.
And it isn’t that we are not feeling deeply. But we are also processing deeply.
And speaking for myself, I am cautious about expressing those feelings until I’m sure it’s the best time, place, and space to do so.
—–> When this makes ministry feel difficult: When others are sharing and need expressions of empathy from me. When I am speaking or leading worship in church, or other times when the “emotional reserve” needs to come down so I can be real and vulnerable.
2) She Is More Than Okay With Solitude
I love being alone. In fact, I’ve come to realize that cultivating alone time’ in my life on a fairly regular basis is vital to my emotional health.” quote=”cultivating some ‘alone time’ in my life on a fairly regular basis is vital to my emotional health!
When I’m able to create margins in my life to recharge, think, and express at my own pace, I actually have more emotional energy to give to others. Like my husband, my kids, and my church family.
Think of emotional health for an introvert as a pendulum: Over stimulation, expectations, and constant needs within the church body push, push, push the pendulum to the far right and then swing it over to the far left.
Personal down time can help bring the pendulum back to the center. A restful and healthy place.
—–> When this makes ministry feel difficult: When our schedule is very overstimulated by too many activities, needs, or out-going energy (and not enough down time). When I feel like the pendulum is constantly swinging without any pause for re-centering.
3) She Doesn’t Feel The Need to Socialize (And She Might just Be Lonely)
This probably sounds a little crazy to my extrovert friends, but a true introvert feels very little need for socialization.
Notice I said that she feels very little need. She has needs! Becoming aware of them is another story.Emotionally, introverts are very self sustaining. We're perfectly content with our own ideas and thoughts as close companions. Click To Tweet
The irony? We often experience deep loneliness. No one understands… no one is “there” to care and share… and yet, no one is really invited in.
What we introverts have to learn is to acknowledge both our need for solitude and our need to allow people into our lives. (Even when we don’t feel socially needy.)
True friendship is mutually beneficial. While it’s true that people need our time and energy a lot, we also need people. Probably more than we realize.
Loneliness in ministry has taught me that I do have social needs, and I do need to let people in.
—–> When this makes ministry feel difficult: When my own needs causes me to overlook the needs of the more extroverted people in my life. When I feel surrounded by people, but understood or “safe” with very few.
4) She is Listening
Introverts are classically excellent listeners.
Honestly, this isn’t a particularly strong point of mine. I prefer to “fix” people’s problems rather than listen to them!
But, whether it comes easily or not, I do a lot of listening as a pastor’s wife!
By nature, we introverts think before we speak. This saves us a lot of trouble in ministry, to say the least.
It also makes us better empathizers.
And, if we can learn to put down the emotional barriers-listening can be a doorway that leads to compassionate, influential leadership within the body of Christ.Click To Tweet
—–> When this makes ministry feel difficult Sometimes listening means that I carry home a heavy burden. And, it feels best when I sometimes have a safe listening ear too!
If you’re an introvert type pastor’s wife, I encourage you to own your God-given personality.
Be intentional about cultivating healthy margins in your personal life. (One of the best books I’ve read on this topic is Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.)
An emotionally healthy pastor’s wife will reconcile with the fact that ministry needs will push, push, push that pendulum one way and then the other, and she will intentionally bring it back to the center.
If you have introvert type friends or ministry leaders, be respectful of their God-given need for space, down time, and the safety of emotional reserve. Don’t take it personal!
Well-known Female Introverts (in no particular order):
- Kate Middleton
- Laura Bush
- Audrey Hepburn
- Elisabeth Elliot
- Mother Teresa
- Sally Clarkson
(Very good company, if you ask me!)
If you feel up to socializing with over 300 pastor’s wives (of all personalities!), I’d love for you to join my private group on Facebook just for ministry wives!
excellent reading on introverts:
What Is An Introvert? @ Introvert Spring
23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert @ Huffington Post
7 Benefits of Being an Introvert in Ministry @ Church Job Finder
The Introverted Child (How to Honor the Quiet) @ The Better Mom
30 Famous Introverts @ She Blossoms
Hospitality for Introverts @ Christianity Today
Confessions of a Ministry Introvert @ Christianity Today