Googling information about successful introverts, I came across such articles as “23 of the Most Amazingly Successful Introverts in History – There are many misconceptions regarding introverts. Here are some of the most successful introverts in history and how you can emulate their success.”
I seem to be in good company. The collage at the beginning of this blog features pics of some of these introverts.
(Disclaimer: I skipped the article Introverts Don’t Make Good Pastors. That insight comes too late for me!)
Is Jesus is an introvert? I note in the Gospel narratives His propensity to withdraw often from the crowd and to spend a night alone communing with His Father. Jesus had an intimate circle of three close friends and chose a mere dozen mentees. Beyond these inner circles, followers chose Him. Jesus mentees also ran interference for him when crowds gathered. At times Jesus would override their protective cover to minister to the one.
Jesus’ efforts to take care of himself remind me of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to his mentee, Timothy. I appreciate this contemporary paraphrase of Paul’s counsel:
“In a well-furnished kitchen, there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.”
(2 Timothy 2:20–21, The Message)
Protecting one’s health and sanity are worthy priorities. I’m reminded of the top three Greek aphorisms, “know thyself,” “nothing to excess,” and “surety brings ruin.” It is critical to know ourselves and what we need to be healthy. It is vital to learn to say no appropriately. Making promises that we can honor is also crucial. These practices contribute to more robust living.
RE-sons an introvert needs space:
RE-st – (REcovery, REstoration, REfreshment)
RE-Energize – (REstoring REserve)
RE-direction – (REcalibrating the Route)
* Rest – (Recovery, Restoration, Refreshment)
The introvert enjoys socializing with people. However, over time social interaction becomes fatiguing. The introvert must withdraw from people to rest. Rest enables recovery from fatigue, restoration from any missteps caused by fatigue, and refreshment through experiencing the simple joys of life.
A fundamental godly virtue is rest. Rest is a big deal for God. The Creator and CEO of the universe set the example. “And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:2–3, NKJV)
God demonstrated His passion for Israel’s rest by structuring a sabbath day into each week and the prescribed national feasts. We discover this same passion for rest in Jesus in His declaration: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NKJV) Jesus regards rest as a heavenly grace, not just a Sabbath day.
Throughout my life, I’ve been sensitive to my need for rest. Stamina challenges and a propensity for fatigue are consequences of having contracted poliomyelitis when I was two years old. The fact that I am an introvert in a people-intensive vocation was also a cautionary alert. As a Pastor, I made sure to take a sabbath day off from ministry each week. The days I worked, I reserved the mornings for “me-time.” It was a time to study, pray, meditate and focus on my spirituality and wellness.
Of course, there are family issues and “genuine emergencies” among the sheep that can interrupt a pastor’s sabbath times. I also learned that my definition of a genuine emergency and a congregant’s definition are not always the same. At the risk of seeming heartless, I would delay responding to what I considered non-emergencies on my rest days. I was pretty amazed at how many of those non-emergencies had resolved themselves by the time I did respond.
“What is important is seldom urgent,” Dwight D. Eisenhower liked to say, “and what is urgent is seldom important.”
The more I engaged in international ministry, the more I discovered both the physical demands of travel and the spiritual hunger of those in other countries. There was always a demand for more of my time and input. I had to learn to pace myself and, when necessary, say no to additional ministry opportunities in a thoughtful way.
I also learned early on to savor the less busy and demanding moments of ministry. The temptation was to fill these slack times with more work instead of rest. The reality is that there are winds and waves of intense and time-consuming demands. Recognizing the ebb and flow of ministry responsibilities is essential. During the ebbs, I learned to refresh my soul and body by quietly sitting on my ministry’s sailboard while preparing for the subsequent wind or wave.
I still guard my morning hours even though the nature of my ministry has shifted through the seasons. Hal Elrod, an American author, keynote speaker, and success coach, published The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life – Before 8 AM. (©2012). He affirmed many of the lessons I had learned through my efforts at protecting my mornings.
“If you take care of your mornings,” says Elrod, “the rest of your life takes care of itself.”
In his recent book, Robert Glazer cites Elrod’s work and highlights Elrod’s habits for a healthy morning routine:
- Silence: This can be meditation, prayer, reflection, deep breathing, or expressions of gratitude done individually or in combination with other steps.
- Affirmation: Repeating positive statements about oneself to create a positive, self-confident attitude.
- Visualization: Using your imagination to create mental pictures of specific outcomes and behaviors you hope to achieve.
- Exercise: Even just a few minutes to get your blood pumping and heart rate elevated. It has so many positive benefits related to stress, focus, and more.
- Reading: At least ten pages a day on a topic focused on personal development or inspiration. You can even use this book.
- Scribing: Writing each day, whether in a journal, pages for a book, or just stream of consciousness.
Glazer adds, “Hal wrote The Miracle Morning during his morning routine, and it’s how I’ve done most of my writing for articles and books.”
Glazer, Robert. Friday Forward (Ignite Reads). Sourcebooks. Kindle Edition. (© 2020) (pp. 53-54)
* Re-Energize – (Restoring Reserve)
Even the rechargeable Energizer Bunny™ ultimately runs out of power. Restoring our reserves is essential. Life is unpredictable. Navigating life without spirit, soul, and body reserves leads to burnout. Without adequate resources, we will not be prepared to handle unexpected demands healthily. As an introvert, I know that limiting social interaction is needed to rest and recharge. Just doing the negative is never enough. We are all different and learn from experience the positives with which to engage to recharge. One of my favorite positives is to visit an ocean beach. The negative ions in the breeze are physically refreshing. Watching the ebb and flow of the waves is a reminder of the nature of life circumstances. Absorbing the beauty of nature is nurturing to the human spirit and soul.
* Redirection – (Recalibrating the Route)
A lifetime is a treasury of seasons. At times we find ourselves at a watershed between seasons. We face a decision choosing which river to navigate in the next season of life. Introverts need space at the watershed. It is tempting is to make a decision too quickly. Teetering atop a watershed is uncomfortable and scary. Past experiences govern hasty decisions. Seasons of rest fabricate creative alternatives.
I’m at another watershed as I write. The river I am exiting is not one I imagined thirty years ago. I did not quickly discover this new flow. I lingered at that watershed for two years. I treaded water doing what I knew to do in the face of my new physical challenges. Initially, I did not know the nature of the new ministry sailboard that I would ride in the season ahead. At my current watershed, I could decide to move forward in the same fashion and flow as the previous season or patiently wait for the new thing to emerge creatively. As a theist, I trust in God’s sovereign and providential participation and my human endowments to see my way forward.
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” —Peter F. Drucker.