4 Myths About Hiring Introverts For Your Church Staff
On the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, I'm somewhere in the middle of introverted and extroverted (leaning to introversion). In addition to that, I am married to an extreme introvert and lead a team of introverts, so I consider myself somewhat of an armchair expert on how introverts are wired and how they can be effective. In all seriousness, over the years I have had the blessing of getting to know and hiring many introverts who have become some of the most dependable and influential people in my life from a leadership, creative, and spiritual standpoint.
American culture often rewards the bold, the loud, and those that will muscle their way to the forefront of projects and even ministries, which is not typical of most introverted personalities. Society has placed a stigma on introverts, often pegging someone as less interesting, less fun, or less kind if they are initially reserved or quiet. Even churches can mistake this introversion for lack of personality in an initial interview.
We’ve compiled several common myths of hiring an introvert, myths that need to be dispelled if you are going to grow a successful organization.
Here are 4 misconceptions to fix before hiring for your church staff.
Myth 1: Introverts aren’t as friendly.
When approaching an introvert, what can come off as standoffish, uninterested, or unengaged, is most often active listening and processing. Introverts excel at listening to other’s opinions instead of talking over them, even if they don’t agree. True introverts often take time to think through answers before addressing and formulating their own opinions. This is an ideal trait in a collaborative team setting, because these can likely be the most impactful voices, using calm, reasonable, and sound judgment with unbiased direction.
Introverts will always hold to their truest emotions, only sharing them with their closest relationships. In an office full of introverts, this can make for a very low drama environment. While introverts likely will not be the first to greet you at the door, their words carry weight, and they will communicate with intentionality when they want to show that they care.
Myth 2: Introverts aren’t as creative.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. When looking at various personality assessments, the introversion scale is not necessarily connected to the creativity scale. A good tool to assess introversion in personality types is the DiSC assessment. All people are made of varying levels of each of the personalities captured under the DiSC, called energies. Introverts will typically test higher on the S and C energies.
On the flipside, someone who tests high in both the D and I energies will lean toward extroversion. The most creative people, however, will often slot in what can be considered “opposite energies”, either high in D and S or in I and C. When these seemingly opposite energies are both dominant in someone, it creates a sense of tension internally that pushes them to constantly think outside the box, usually resulting in creativity.
Because these energies are considered opposites, creativity has just as much of a statistical chance to be present in an introvert as in an extrovert. In fact, many of the greatest artists of all time had reputations for being quiet or withdrawn. So when hiring for the ministries at your church that require some creativity, like worship arts, technical arts, or even kids ministry, you may benefit just as much from hiring an introvert as an extrovert.
Myth 3: Introverts aren’t great leaders.
Society has historically done a terrible job of correctly defining leaders by saying they must be outspoken, loud, and overly confident. While introverts do tend to be less dominant, boisterous, and aggressive, many of the best leaders I know are introverts. True leadership would be better defined as poise, experience, discernment, a calming presence, and the ability to make decisions during a time of crisis. While extroverts certainly can be great leaders, I am always grateful for people that can digest a problem, process it with wisdom, calmly respond, and clearly communicate with others how the team can keep moving forward.
This is against the grain of what society would brand as leadership. True, there always needs to be a balance of strategic, inspirational, driven, and relational personalities within a ministry. The best leaders are able to step in and pinch hit in any of these areas if needed, but these traits don’t need to consistently fall directly under the Pastor. This is where volunteers can be so helpful. Hiring a brilliant communicator with a winsome personality is not always the best strategy for a church that wants to develop leader-builders. This will more likely come under the gift mix of an introvert.
Myth 4: Introverts can’t be in the spotlight.
While a strong introvert does not have their dominant or expressive energies at the forefront of their personality, they do still possess them. All people have the ability to operate outside of their natural personality traits for some period of time as needed. The amount of an introvert’s opposite energies will partially determine how long they can operate outside their natural gift mix before exhaustion or burnout occurs.
Introverts can often be social, communicate to large groups of people, speak up when taking charge, and excel from the stage, especially if they are familiar with the people or situation. Unlike extroverts, who thrive on these social interactions to refuel, introverts will limit these interactions - and carefully prepare for them - because they can become tiresome. They will need a chance to retreat to their personal space or time so that they can engage in these situations again if necessary.
A Pastor's attention to detail and emotional intelligence (typically introverted strengths) combined with their love for the scripture allow them to communicate in such a relational and real way that believers feel is incredibly authentic when compared to some extroverted Pastors.
Churches and organizations are complex organisms that will thrive most effectively when there is a healthy blend of all personality types. There must be balance and understanding of one another, so that are all on board with the mission and the vision of the overall church body.
How can you start to reassess the way you hire introverts for your church staff?
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