I am a raging introvert. In a Myers-Briggs test, my introvert score was 98%. God wired me this way, and he also called me to be a pastor. This just proves that God has a sense of humour.
The Urban Monastery is about telling our adventures in community. It costs an introvert to be in community. My energy is best restored when I am alone. I feel drained when I am around people for too much time. As a pastor I am around people a lot. There are times and places where, if I don’t show up, I am missed – like Sunday Morning. Being with people is not optional. As a pastor I need to spend time, either leading, or discipling or planning and administrating. One of the gifts a pastor brings to people is the ministry of presence.
Our community is different. I am not required to spend time with Doug and Dave. It is a choice. Yet I chose to pay the cost of people time with them because what I get in return is something of far greater value.
The temptation of an introvert is to overindulge in the need to be alone, which can then quickly turn to isolation. Isolation is also a temptation of the pastorate. It is easy for me to rationalize that, as an introverted pastor, I spend so much time with people I should use my discretionary time to be alone.
But I have learned that not all ‘people time’ is equal. Being in community with David and Doug allows each of us to know and be known in a way that pastoral ministry does not. I need people, outside the ministry system that I operate in, to speak into my life. They can affirm or challenge me, and I don’t have to wonder if there is another agenda going on. I can throw out ideas without being taken too seriously. I can speak in this community in a way that I cannot speak with people I pastor.
I am not Doug and David’s pastor, although, sometimes I have pastored them and they have pastored me. I am not their counselor, although sometimes I have counseled them and they have counseled me. I am not their leader, although sometimes I have lead them and they have lead me.
Pastoral ministry can be isolating, precisely because we are always the pastor, the counselor, the leader – both spiritually and operationally – whenever we are with our church. Being an introvert can be isolating just because it costs us energy to be with people. It costs this introvert energy to be in this community; but it would cost me a whole lot more to not to be in this community.