I have returned home from Evangelism Coach training with so much to reflect on. This is an exciting new direction in my ministry. It is bringing together so many of my skills and experiences and drawing me to use them in new directions. I'm really looking forward to following where God leads me in this venture.
One of the things it has sparked is self reflection. Last Sunday after preaching, a church member asked if I was taking two vitamins before I preach. Another said "It is so great to see so much joy from you in the pulpit." Others have enjoyed my sense of humor, "You're such a nut." Others have enjoyed watching me try to inspire a congregation of Presbyterians to dance and clap to the song "Happy" on Bright Sunday. The children want to know when we're going to dance again. What has happened to me? This can't be me.
But it is me. It always has been me. But if you knew my personality profile you would probably say it couldn't be because......dum,dum, duuuuuuum...I am an INTROVERT! Off the charts, no question about it, deeply, deeply introverted. Perhaps some would say it's Spiritual energy. There may be some truth to that. I believe that God is my inspiration and motivation in life and ministry. I also seek to be plugged into God's energy praying, "God use me to do your work." before I preach. If at my core, I am a disciple of Jesus, then I have to give credit to God for some of my energy; except that I've been doing God's work for nearly 30 years and no other time in my life have people commented so much.
It's not my metabolism, I live in a hypo world. We'll just get that off the table.
My response to the member who asked about the vitamins was simply, "It comes from you. I feel your energy and enthusiasm. I feel your joy and it feeds me." I am plugged into your energy because....I am an introvert! Not only am I an introvert, I am very intuitive. I feel your energy as much as I hear it in your words. I am an INFP. Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceptive. Positive energy feeds me, negative energy bleeds me.
Why all of this navel gazing? Because what I have experienced in recent years is a trend within the church to try to identify people based on their Myers-Briggs personality type. Years ago I interviewed with a church that was concerned about my personality type. They perceived from my phone interviews and preaching videos that I am a reserved, timid person. Perhaps it was also because one of their first questions was about my Myers-Briggs type and they made assumptions. They were concerned about my personality type. So when they met me, they were quite surprised that I wasn't what they expected. In fact they admitted that they were not expecting such a strong personality. You'll never be able to work with our other pastor - thank you, bye bye.
It is frustrating for me to hear people misuse the Myers-Briggs profile. Being an introvert doesn't make one shy and timid. INFP's are notoriously known for being some of the greatest philosophers, actors, singers, and more. Some of the acting world's most famous character actors were/are INFP's. In fact, INFPs and ENFPs are known to be particularly well wired for ministry. I am proud to walk among names like: Soren Kierkegaard, Albert Camus, JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Antoine de St. Exupery, A.A. Milne, Edgar Allen Poe, Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Curt Cobain, John Lennon, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Fred Rogers (of Mister Roger's Neighborhood and a Presbyterian pastor), Donna Reed, Dick Clark, Jackie Kennedy, Neil Diamond (singer), James Taylor (singer), Julia Roberts (actor), and Tom Brokaw. There are many, many more famous INFPs.
The MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) preferences indicate the differences in people based on the following:
- How they focus their attention or get their energy (extraversion or introversion)
- How they perceive or take in information (sensing or intuition)
- How they prefer to make decisions (thinking or feeling)
- How they orient themselves to the external world (judgment or perception) (Myers, Isabel Briggs (1998). Introduction to Type: A Guide to Understanding your Results on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc)
So, this has nothing to do with being shy; although I suspect that shy people tend to be introverts; but not all introverts are shy. As I suggested above, the problem is not that a person is an introvert, the problem is the misuse of the term introvert to define a person who is shy. These are not the same characteristic. To learn more click on this great article, "6 Things You Thought Wrong About Introverts."
After three days of intense and exciting coach training, I am exhausted. I took the 6 a.m. flight to get home and crash much of the day. My energy is refueled by rest and quiet introspection. But this evening I will be ready to go and hang out with my church choir and share some of my joy about this week. I am truly excited to be an evangelism coach. I can't wait to get out there and work with a congregation to help them get excited about sharing their faith in new and creative ways. I will love helping to equip them with resources like the Engage curriculum of the PCUSA. I will do it with energy, intelligence, imagination and love! And guess what? I am an introvert!