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7 Assumptions Made About Introverts

By February 28, 2023Church, Culture, Family, Leadership

People make assumptions about introverts. I know. I am an introvert.

Some people can question whether they are or not. I don’t. I’m certified in Myers Briggs, so I know the language well. I’ve studied the concept, but it didn’t require much study or an assessment for me. I know I’m in the club.

As a pastor, it means I am more tired when I go home on Sunday. It means I avoid certain crowds unless I have a clear purpose for being there. Also, it means I usually exercise alone and I’m okay with that. It means I’m probably harder to get to know than some people. I get all that and own it. It’s me.

I realize I have to work harder as a leader to allow my team to know me or what I’m thinking. Introversion can’t be an excuse for poor leadership.

I’ve written before about the struggles of introversion in ministry before and how I adapt with it as a pastor. What surprises me, however, is how misunderstood introverts are sometimes. There are a lot of assumptions made when someone is introverted; maybe especially an introverted leader. (And I know lots of pastors – even of very large churches – who are introverted.)

7 assumptions made about introverts:

Some think I’m shy.

That may be your word, but it’s not mine. I prefer purposeful for me. Others may call it something else. I talk when there’s a purpose and I’m not afraid to do so. Three year olds are shy when they hide behind their daddy. That’s not me.

Some have thought I must need more courage.

This is so inaccurate. Choosing not to speak for me isn’t a fear. It’s just being comfortable.

It’s been thought that I must not have anything to say.

Actually, I have lots to say. Have you noticed I blog frequently? I have written a few books. I update Twitter and Facebook frequently. I have a bunch to say. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t express it, but many times how I choose to communicate will be different than how others choose to communicate.

In some settings, when I’m quieter than others, it’s been assumed I’m not as intelligent as others in the room.

That’s probably true in a lot of ways; depending on the subject. I try to surround myself with people smarter than me. Plus, I listen well. Actually, however, I have a few degrees hanging on my wall. In some ways, however, I think I may be smarter than the one who never quits talking. I am less likely to say the thing I wish I hadn’t said, because I didn’t think before I talked. It happens, but not as often as it might for some.

Sadly, some have thought I am arrogant or don’t like people.

That is definitely not true. Honestly, I love everyone. I have a Biblical commitment and a personal goal to do so. Whether or not I talk to you will not be a good determination of whether or not I like you. It might even mean I respect you enough to listen more than speak. Maybe.

Some have thought I need someone to talk for me.

Actually I’d rather you not. Now that said, I sometimes let my wife talk for me. She’s good at it too. If I have an opinion I think needs sharing, however, I’ll speak for myself. Or regret later than I didn’t. Either way, please don’t try to be my voice.

Some have told me I need to change, mature, grow as a person or leader.

I have had that said a number of times as a pastor. But, let me assure you there’s nothing wrong with me. Actually, there’s a lot wrong with me, but introversion isn’t one of the things. I’m just quieter than some leaders you may know — or your immediate perception of a leader.

Those are some of the assumptions that have been made of this introvert.

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss issues of leadership nuggets in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • TJ Gabelman says:

    As an introvert pastor, thank you! I’ve thought these things and never been able to put them into words. It is also affirming that I can be myself and it’s not a bad thing.

  • Helle Pedersen says:

    Thank you so much for your blog on introvert.
    It was very helpful for me. Being a introvert and minister. Could follow you in så man tings. The misunderstands, arrogant . Yes it all. Good to read and be confirmed again not being alene about it.

  • Jim Pemberton says:

    This is an important list of things to understand. I'm mildly introverted, but my wife is very introverted. That said, she's the director of a local non-profit ministry (Child Evangelism Fellowship) that has Good News Clubs in about 40 schools and is busy planting a new chapter in a nearby city. I'm in administration in my manufacturing company and work with church leadership around the world on short-term missions. What makes this list important is understanding what needs to happen in the face of these kinds of assumptions in order to accomplish goals.

    It may or may not be fair to be misunderstood as an introvert, but it doesn't matter. Understanding how you are perceived allows you to leverage that perception, whatever it is. If you know that someone is going to think you aren't as intelligent as you are, think that you are arrogant, or some other thing, it allows you to develop a strategy for either dispelling those misperceptions or using them to lead. For example, if someone thinks you aren't very intelligent, you can challenge them to apply their self-perceived intelligence to an opportunity that you need to delegate to them anyway.

    It's better to see perceptions and misperceptions as opportunities.