“Introverts make great missionaries.”
Introversion isn’t something to be cured. God created all personalities and all bring strengths as well as potential weaknesses. The idea that being a missionary requires being an extrovert suggests that missions is about telling people things. It is as much or more about listening and learning so that we can understand where the bridges are to the Gospel in a culture or in an individual life. It’s often most effective in interpersonal relationships, not from the stage or the pulpit.
The main thing is understanding your God-given personality so you can play to its strengths and recognize the areas that can become problems for you. Introverts need to be sure to have a rhythm that gives them chances to recharge. That can be a challenge in a mission context. But they shouldn’t try to become extroverts – that’s just inviting unhealthy stress!
All that said, introverts will likely have more discomfort with the volume of interaction necessary for effective language learning. That can push you out of your comfort zone, but again, with good rhythms, it’s certainly not insurmountable.
Answer from Jim, who served in Kazakhstan for ten years and now is a vice president with The Mission Society.
“Your personality may suggest what kind of work you will enjoy – and all kinds are needed.”
ALL personality types make the best missionaries, for we are all uniquely created and bear the image of our creator in a way that is pleasing to him!
Our character surely affects our success as a missionary (or any other job) more than our personality. Missions has many components, many opportunities to serve and share the gospel with those in other lands. Ideally, your personality suits the type of work you enjoy well and there is a need for every type of work on the mission field!
If you are an introvert, you may not prefer to be up in front of people a lot or leading groups of people. There are many other ways to serve. Having said that, it is worth asking God to make you ready and available for every situation – even scary ones! – because you never know what opportunities may arise. You don’t have to change your personality, just be willing to allow God to use you beyond the limits of your comfort zone.
Bless you as you consider serving in missions!
Answer from Laura, who has served with Iris Ministries in Mozambique for ten years.
How your personality fits in ministry
Your personality is one part of your life that affects the way you express yourself in ministry, how you approach serving.
Your personality will lend expression to the way you exercise your spiritual gifts. It will help determine the fervor, flair, or fashion with which you pursue your heart’s passions. It will flavor the way you interpret your experience.
The goal of understanding your personality is that you build on your strengths and work on the weaknesses, submitting all of who you are to the power and control of the Holy Spirit.
Finish article at Ministry Tools. This article also includes recommendations for several books about personality types and ministry.
I’m an introvert, and I’m a pastor. It is a tough combination to pull off, especially when we tend to celebrate certain types of personalities over others in the world of ministry leadership.