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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Are Most Clergy Introverts??

Apparently, they are in the Church of England. See here.

This does raise some interesting questions. To what extent is the personality of a pastor important to the success of his ministry? Boy, that could open quite a can of wormies.

Not just every person who wants to be a pastor should be one. And certainly, most definitely, not every person who says, "I feel that I am called to be a pastor," should become one. There are biblical qualifications to become a pastor. And this has absolutely nothing to do with what you or I feel about anything. In the Bible, God called plenty of men who wanted it like a hole in the head.

And as I read the epistles of St. Paul to Saints Timothy and Titus, I don't recall seeing extroversion listed as one of those qualifications. Not explicitly, that is. But it is necessary that he be a man respected in the community, with a stable family life and obedient children, and it says he must be apt to teach. St. Paul also says that a pastor must be hospitable and he commands Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. None of that is exactly the same thing as extroversion, but it certainly means that an extreme introvert, no matter how brilliant, pious or well-meaning might not fit the biblical qualifications. Unless, that is, he is able to overcome his natural tendencies toward introversion enough to fulfill his duties.

I don't know what the experts would consider me. An extrovert or an introvert. Can a person be both? Generally, I think I'm an introvert. The perfect vacation for me is a quiet hotel with a pool or a beach, no phones, a stack of books, near an excellent brew pub and espresso bar. With my family. I enjoy solitude. In social settings, I tend to sit off to the side EXCEPT when I am the host or when I am with people I am very comfortable with. Then I can be quite extroverted.

But so what? How much of this is important to me being a pastor? While I think doing psychological and personality analyses of seminarians does have some merit, I am repulsed by how much attention is paid to such things. Some of the best pastors I know today, had lousy results when they took the tests. And some of the real go-getter types turned out to be jerks or perverts.

Generally, I believe way too much attention is paid in the church's ministry to the behavioral sciences and too little to pastoral theology.

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Kurt Wall said...

Interesting. My pastor describes himself as an introvert doing an extrovert's job.

Anonymous said...

I don't recall Jesus giving "psycholgical personality tests". In fact, except for His quip about "the sons of thunder" I find very little criticism or evaluation of "personalities". If one's personality (whether introvert or extrovert) were of such great importance, then Jesus would surely have made more of case for it. Thanks be to the Lord
that the Word goes forth *despite* the personalities (as unique and varied as they are!) that carry that Word of Law and Gospel. I've heard of many who "swoon" over the megachurch "ceo's" but that doesn't mean that they are qualified to teach God's Word. If that were the most paramount criteria, then I suppose none of us
in the Mo. synod would qualify!!

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