Help! I'm An Introvert And A Youth Worker!
I have to confess, I'm NOT an introvert. I get my energy from people. I love being at big events. I love being in a crowd. And I love engaging in conversation with others.
However, I do ministry alongside some friends who are introverts. They get energy from being in small groups or being left alone to process things internally. They find it challenging to do people-oriented ministry at times. I've had conversations where I discovered that an introverted friend was occasionally horrified of talking to someone new. He sometimes wonders if he can do ministry the right way.
Of course, this is a false assumption.
I'm consistently reminding and encouraging him that God knows his personality and he doesn't have to try and be someone he's not. He can serve effectively according to who God has made him to be.
CS Lewis may be the most influential introvert ever. Lewis was painfully shy and was not inclined toward the idea of fellowship. However, Lewis grew in his understanding of God through the church and other spiritual mentors. He wrote in Mere Christianity, "The New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion." Lewis clearly sought to overcome his individual tendencies for the sake of furthering the gospel. Thankfully, we're all made with unique personalities and inclinations. And being an introvert shouldn't stop anyone from doing ministry effectively. As I've journeyed with my friends through this process, we've identified a few ways to use your personality and gifts to do awesome youth ministry as an introvert.
Be A Spiritual Mentor
Take one or two people and meet with them regularly in a discipleship/mentoring relationship. Use your "introverted-ness" to your advantage. Give attention and care to one or two really well rather than feeling like you have to be someone you're not during large gatherings.
Study God's Word
Some of the greatest preachers are introverts because they love studying God's Word in intensive, solitary times. Take time to meet with God with the purpose of applying it in your own life and leading others to do the same in theirs.
Be A Member Of A Team
Find your role on a diverse team with diverse gifts. We complement each other in ministry with our gifts and personalities. You'll be able to reach students that others will never be able to reach. And others may reach students you have a hard time connecting with.
Practice Evangelism According To Your Personality
Nothing makes me cringe more than a "one-size fits all" evangelism strategy. They are helpful in giving us the basics of what to share and an outline, and God can use them, but they can also make things sound artificial and robotic. Find a way to share Christ that you're comfortable with and then go do it!
Find the Marginalized
You can play an essential role in making others feel at home because you may very well know what it's like to be uncomfortable in large or unfamiliar settings.
At the end of the day, if we're obedient to God's call in our lives, we'll all have to do things that may not be 100% comfortable, or natural, or easy. But, God has gifted us as individuals with our gifts and personality. Don't be afraid to pursue your ministry through your personality, finding a sweet-spot where you are most effective.