YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A CRAZY EXTROVERT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD!?
It’s true. You and I believe that the highly charismatic, extremely extroverted, and socially pleasant will make the biggest splash for the Kingdom. Well, yeah, they do make a splash, but often the world does not need another splash, but they need a refreshing drink from a deep well. It is unfortunate that society places value on the flashy and smooth, because some of the greatest sources of encouragement come from those that are considered introverted, private, or quiet.
My wife is an introvert. She is my sharpest critic and also gives me the best advice. Often I am the first to speak, but when the conversation is over, it is her thoughts expressed into a few words that linger in our minds. My Dad is also an introvert because he gains energy by being alone in his library. However when he emerges from his quiet times, he is full of practical ideas and plenty of good-humored sarcasm. Again, it is his thoughts that linger in my mind, shape my opinions, and surface as real-life application. This is influence. This is leadership.
I have worked in the marketplace and in non-profit environments with many introverts – actually most engineers I worked with were introverts. I am thankful for the role that introverts play as world changers. Introverts are not necessarily shy, awkward, or anti-social. In fact many are quite the opposite. If you do not consider yourself a typical extroverted world changer, then I hope you find encouragement and affirmation about the lessons I’ve learned from people just like you! Go introverts! Here is what I have learned from you:
1. Introverts listen carefully.
I love to talk, and I hate that I cannot listen for long periods of time. I have been developing the skill, but I have a long way to go. Introverts tend to ask great, open-ended questions because they listen carefully and make great observations. Being a world changer is more than blabbing about the next great idea, it is about listening to the world around you. Introverts can teach us to be incarnational and invitational. These are vital attributes of any influential world changer.
2. Introverts speak precisely.
As I stated earlier, I love to talk, and I usually repeat myself about three times in various ways before I catch myself repeating myself… it is quite embarrassing. I’m working on it! Introverts gather thoughts and pick words accurately. I remember one of my friends saying, “Linson, I feel rather lugubrious today…” Needless to say, I had to look up the word later. He meant he was feeling sad. I would have said, “I feel sad, but then again, it is more than sad, it’s likened unto being sad, but deeper, more like mournful or dismal… perhaps it is an inner sadness much like gloominess…” Good Lord, just shut up. Introverts know how to communicate precisely to the world around them and that translates into confidence and influence. This is a valuable skill to be a world changer.
3. Introverts make solid decisions.
I love being on a team with introverts. They do not like small talk. They want to have meaningful dialogue regarding topics about which they are passionate. Introverted engineers can troubleshoot one tiny millimeter trace on a circuit board for a solid hour and never find it wasteful – though they may have never spoken that whole time. Once the brainstorming is done, you will receive a thoughtful, well-calculated, and solid decision on next steps of action. I LOVE THAT! Introverts know how to see problems that friends, family, and coworkers are facing, and thoughtfully respond with noble, life-giving solutions. It is not more jargon. It is not more drama. It is precise truth. This is another respected trait of a world changer.
4. Introverts lead with great focus.
When a team of world changers need to reach a goal, you do not necessarily want the flashy, charismatic, public butterfly to lead the charge. In fact, that may lead to disastrous results. Introverts provide a great amount of focus and finesse to a team environment. It is this type of sharpened mental capacity that helps guide other world changers into wider impact. A ministry friend of mine is a 100% introvert, but she leads the brightest and most missional ministry teams I have ever seen. She is a ministry architect, a visionary, and a developer of missional people. The world needs more world changers with accurate leadership!
If you are wondering whether your preferred trait is extroversion or introversion, then please consider taking a short Myers Briggs personality test. Learning more about yourself will lead to greater self-awareness, and that is essential to being an everyday world changer. Thanks to our fellow introverts! Keep living for the Kingdom.