I’m an introvert, and I’m a pastor. It’s a tough combination to pull off, especially when we tend to celebrate certain types of personalities over others in the world of ministry leadership.
As church planters, we went through a couple of different assessment periods before we launched Grace Hills Church, and I can specifically remember a couple of significant pain points in that process.
In one situation, it was made pretty clear that only the alpha males would successfully plant churches. This mentality still hangs around today and let me be blunt: it’s baloney!
In another evaluation, we were turned down for funding consideration because I tested as a high “I” (Influence) on the DISC profile, and as we all know, only high “D’s” (Dominance) can actually get anything done. Again, baloney.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a type-A, driven person with a tendency to light up the room or dominate conversations. My concern is that we often elevate certain personality types as more prone to success than others.
So I’m putting forth a new theory that the absolute, very best personality type to possess as a ministry leader is YOURS!
Look at the diversity of personalities represented among Bible characters. Moses was meek, Joshua was inspiring, Paul was an intellectual. Peter was bull-headed. And John was a lover of souls.
And when it comes to modern church leaders who have impacted my life deeply… Rick Warren is larger than life. David Jeremiah is the calm teacher. Erwin McManus is a wild man. Dave Ferguson is a motivator. Derwin Gray is an evangelism linebacker. Bob Goff gives people medals and balloons. And Chris Hodges is happy and a little hyper.
The fact is, the Kingdom is made up of leaders of all kinds of shapes, sizes, and flavors. We need extroverts who storm the gates of hell boldly and introverts who care for the broken on the battlefield. We need organizers who systematize the work of ministry for efficiency and motivators who engage the passion lying deep within the body.
The notion that you need to lead with a personality that isn’t naturally yours but looks more like a successful celebrity pastor is both hurtful and untrue.
Be you. Be the leader God carefully crafted from the womb. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Intentionally grow in areas you find challenging as a leader.
But reject the pressure to conform to a certain image of what a good leader must look like. God wants to you use YOU!
In fact, when God made you, he then broke the mold. There’s never been anyone on the planet quite like you, and God uses a diversity of people to accomplish his mission of redeeming others to himself.
It’s always wise to know yourself well so that you can surround yourself with fellow leaders who help to keep you in balance. But personality alone is just one aspect of who you are as a leader.
I was recently part of an assessment panel evaluating the readiness of some church planters. Before one particular candidate entered the room, we were all assured this particular candidate was a shoe-in. And he was sharp, as promised. His presentation was polished and his positive personality lit up the room.
As different panel members asked him questions about his planting strategy and approaches to ministry, he answered each one confidently. But something was missing for me. I finally spoke up to ask a different kind of question…
What is the biggest hurt you’ve ever been through? Tell us about a moment of pain that shaped the rest of your life.
He answered well, and I was finally convinced he possessed a particular quality missing among too many sharp, polished leaders… a pastor’s heart.
While it’s okay to assess people to discover their personalities and talents, we have to be careful not to pass over someone’s potential because they aren’t the “successful” type.
Sometimes, the very people we write off because of their meekness are the ones chosen for a special blessing and anointing from God.
So do YOU. Learn who you are and how to be confident about it. Grow and improve and work on your weaknesses, but don’t ever believe you need to be someone you’re not to have God’s blessing on your life and leadership.
It takes all kinds. Really.