Ministering as an Introvert

(This was previously posted on


I remember when I was younger - I don't know how old I was but it was before high school - I heard my mom tell someone she struggled with meeting new people. I remember not understanding what she meant by that. I never thought of my mom as shy or unsure in new situations.
And I certainly didn't consider myself an introvert. I loved to perform and make people laugh and spend time with friends. But sometimes things change.
When I was entering 10th grade, we moved across country and I started attending school for the first time after being homeschooled. I knew four girls in the school and they had been emailing me over the summer. I honestly don't know how I would have made it through that first year without them. They introduced me to more people, showed me the ropes of school, and let me tag along everyday to eat lunch with them.
It was about this time that I noticed my attitude changing. I enjoyed being with my friends, laughing at their antics and stories {and boy could we laugh!!}. I met more people who became life long friends and I experienced things I never would have if God hadn't moved my family. But I found myself walking by new people and just smiling instead of introducing myself. I didn't jump at the chance to get my driver's license because when I got home after school, I just wanted to stay home {I waited until I was 19 to get my license but I do have it now}. I was self conscious and afraid I would say the wrong thing to someone, probably because I'd said the wrong thing a lot.
As I entered college, I kept the same group of friends close. We all attended the same university and I was comfortable within my small circle. I roomed in the dorms with my best friend from high school and we have some amazing memories together. I laugh just thinking about them! :)  A lot of my friends branched out, finding new friends, doing other things. I sometimes envied their ability to make friends. They could find things in common - shared hobbies and talents and interests - with other people so easily. They were the people others wanted to be around because they were fun and interesting. I never felt confident like that.
Starting my sophomore year, I moved home and became a town student. Most of my classes were filled with people I didn't know. I would enter class, smile, maybe say hello. But I couldn't muster the nerve to start a conversation with anyone. If they talked to me, I would happily chat and then wave when I saw them elsewhere on campus. I went to soccer games but only if I knew friends were going or I could convince them to go with me. I skipped lunch rather than sit alone or ask someone to eat with me. I was always afraid of inconveniencing someone or putting them on the spot, making them feel like they needed to say yes so I just didn't ask. I found a quiet spot in the library and read or wrote or watched the people I was too nervous to talk to.
I graduated, got married, and now I'm a pastor's wife. I love ministry and our church family but it's not always easy for me. People think that walking up to visitors and asking them questions is natural for me. It honestly isn't! It's a struggle because I want to stay in my comfort zone, talking with people I know and having the confidence to be myself.
It really comes down to a matter of pride in some cases. I'm afraid how people will view me, what they'll think of me. You know what they say about first impressions. And that fear drives me to seek out the comfort of people I already know. Where I know what to talk about with ease instead of searching for appropriate questions.
I guess the funniest thing is, if you asked my friends, they would probably laugh at the thought of Angela the Introvert. And I finally understand what my mom meant. Being an introvert doesn't always mean you hate being with people or you are anti-social and just sit in your home all day.
For me it's having difficulty putting myself out there. I've said the wrong thing to someone, hurt feelings, broken a promise. And I hate the thought of doing that again. Of disappointing someone. So when I don't know someone, I often choose to smile and wave and wait for them to approach me with an offer of friendship. And as I get to know them, I come out of my shell and become the Angela who, as a senior in high school, was voted as having the loudest and most memorable laugh. {It's often likened to a witch's cackle. Their words, not mine.}
Fortunately for me, anything I do isn't done in my own strength. Or at least I shouldn't try to do it that way. God has called me to where I am, doing what I'm doing. And he's given me what I need to fulfill the role I'm in. As a wife, mother, pastor's wife, friend. He hasn't called me to compare myself with all the amazing, outgoing, talented friends I have. I'm to use the talents he's equipped me with.
Have you ever bemoaned not being able to serve God like so-and-so? Or been so intimidated by someone else's skills you never attempted to serve the way she does? I think God brings people like that in our lives to humble us and to make us rely on Him more. The question is if we follow through with the ministry he has for us. Introverts and all.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash