While it must have been exciting for Timothy to work with the heaven-empowered Apostle to the Gentiles (Colossians 1:29), eventually Paul gave him his own assignment – the gospel work at Ephesus – and turned him loose (I Timothy 1:3).
In three posts I shared ten tips for introverted pastors. Here’s how I’ve been differentiating introversion and extroversion:
- Introverts are less outgoing, talkative, enthusiastic and energetic, than extroverts.
- Introverts are more oriented to the world of their minds; extroverts are more focused on their external environment.
- Extroverts thrive on being around other people. Introverts thrive in seclusion.
- Extroverts are energized by other people. Introverts are energized by other people as well, but a couple of hours at a party is usually long enough.
- Introverts are more easily aroused by input and are therefore more easily overwhelmed by external stimulation.
Having been challenged to do a “deep dive” into a Biblical figure, I chose Timothy – often accused of being “timid Timothy,” who had a problem with being “intimidated.” From Paul’s two letters, here’s a compilation of the advice Timothy received:
1.Stand your ground, face your opponents, and proclaim the truth proactively and boldly (I Timothy 1:3, 4:1-14, 6:12-21; II Timothy 1:6-18, 2:3, 14-19, 23). We all know that this is the right thing to do, but it takes a lot of energy and a lot of confidence in the “rightness” of our cause to do this. Introverts are skilled at finding excuses to seek out an alternative ministry where there seems to be no opposition. Introverts hear internal whispers telling them that humility (something they’re good at) demands that they withdraw from conflict.
2. Become a strong and resolute soul-builder (I Timothy 4:8, 6:11; II Timothy 1:7,8; 2:1-10, 3:10-17). Timothy need not become a body-builder; that’s for others. But he is instructed to work hard at becoming strong-in-spirit. Churches need strong leaders. Leaders need courage. Weaker leaders need encouragement (inserted courage) from their stronger brethren. Church leaders are called upon by God and circumstances to do some difficult, courageous things. Even quiet-spirited introverts can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10).
3. Use your God-given authority (I Timothy 4:11-16; II Timothy 2:24-26, 4:1-5). When Paul told Timothy to not let anyone despise his youth, he couldn’t have meant that Timothy could actually keep those who wanted to despise him from doing so. (Remember Goliath addressing David in I Samuel 17:42-44?)
What Paul must have meant was that Timothy should develop a healthy, godly version of assertiveness and not allow those who looked down on him to get away with intimidating their young leader. Timothy was to use the authority which God, Paul and the Holy Spirit had given him, for God’s glory. Under-assertive people – like the guy who won’t take his turn at the four-way stop – are a problem for everyone.
It’s not humility that causes us to throw every decision unto the board or committee room table. Leaders have been given their positions for a reason or reasons and are shirking their duty if surrender their authority to those who may want it but don’t deserve it.
4. Embrace your role as a public person (I Timothy 4:12-16). Pastors are public people. Everything we do is watched. Extroverts are cool with this. “Another picture? Sure! Why not?” “Lead in prayer at the city park? Sure! Why not?” Introverts would rather just “not.”But there is great power in the pastor or elder’s example. Paul, the extrovert, embraced this (I Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 4:9). As I’ve said before, sometimes we introverts have to learn how to act – with the Holy Spirit’s help – like “raving extroverts,” for God’s glory.
5. Exhort and admonish with strength and grace (I Timothy 5:1; II Timothy 2:14-26). Exhorting older persons should be difficult, for the Biblical value of respecting our elders (found everywhere in the Book of Proverbs) should make us reticent to do so.
But sometimes we have to. As introverts, we find it too easy to be passive-aggressive, restraining our concern or anger until we’re so upset that it boils over and we “go off on” people whom we should have admonished in love, six months earlier. Don’t ask me how I know so much about this.But even timid Timothies can learn to speak earlier, gentler, better, more positively, with the Holy Spirit’s wonderful help.
6. Know your worth as a gifted teacher (I Timothy 5:17-18). Here’s another area where introverted pastors tend to behave in passive-aggressive ways. Some of us are overworked and underpaid. In many cases our church leaders have no idea that we’re overworked and underpaid because no one has taught them what is right and appropriate.
Our assertive, extroverted brethren have this figured out. We need to boldly – at the risk of being accused of selfishness – teach about this, and every other subject. We need to share our needs and ask for the compensation we need, instead of going away angry and leaving our boards wondering why we left.
Can introverted pastors fulfill this ministry successfully? Yes, by God’s grace and with the help of good advice, like the counsel of Paul to Timothy, they can.