I’d like to give a shout out to all fellow introverts out there. You know who you are. I’m happy to report that people are beginning to understand us. I’ve seen several pretty good articles written on the subject in recent months, which makes my heart rejoice. It’s hard, isn’t it? To be judged and found wanting because you’re not as friendly as your husband is sooooooo unfair! I’m not my husband. I’m me. Judge me for who I am, not for who I’m not.
I happen to be married to an extrovert’s extrovert. We did a Strength Finders test and his #1 strength is Woo. Yep, just as it sounds. He woos people. He draws them in. He tries to cultivate their friendship from the very first word out of his mouth. He doesn’t do it to manipulate, it’s just how he is hard wired. He loves people. He wants to befriend all people. He seeks to know and be known. As a result people are drawn to him. They seek him out. They form an instant bond with him and feel a deep love for him.
And then there’s me. I don’t woo. I don’t seek to draw all people to me. I do not walk into a room full of strangers and rub my hands together because those strangers are friends I haven’t yet met. Nope. They’re a bunch of people I don’t know and I’m not really sure if I want to know all of them. Sorry if that offends, but that’s how I’m hard wired. People wear me out. Lots of people in a crowded space wear me out quickly.
Now, imagine this scenario in church. The pastor of the church is a very outgoing, charming, and friendly guy. His wife is quiet. The pastor works the room shaking one hand after another. The wife stands in one spot. The pastor manages to speak with nearly every person over the course of the evening. The wife talks in depth with three or four people. Do you see a potential problem? Can you understand how easy it is for the congregation to assume certain things about the pastor’s wife? Would they be wrong in thinking that perhaps she is stuck up? Unfriendly? Even conceited and self absorbed? The answer for me, and the thousands of ministry wives like me, is yes. They would be wrong. I am not stuck up. I am not unfriendly. I’m certainly not conceited or self absorbed. I’m just introverted. Not horribly shy. Just introverted. Walking into a room full of people is hard work. We do it because we love people. We really do. But it is a draining experience to try and become a situational extrovert. That’s what people expect of us. It is simply inconceivable to some members of the congregation that the pastor’s wife might be struggling to smile, strike up conversations, move from group to group, and engage in small talk. The fellow introverts in the congregation understand though.
You know who else understands? Other pastors’ wives. I wish I had a statistic to throw out there, but I don’t. I only have experience and my experience tells me that there are more introverted ministry wives married to extroverted ministry leaders than the other way around. Because I am a ministry wife I completely understand what it feels like to deal with criticism and the fatigue that ensues when trying to behave in a manner that is not part of my DNA. I understand a lot of other things, too. I’ve lived the life. I’ve dealt with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations in all kinds of churches. Big. Small. In between. I get it. Been there. Done that. I even have a few scars to show for it. But that’s okay. I still love the church. I still love people.
That’s the main reason that I am helping to launch a new ministry arm of Standing Stone Ministry. We not only shepherd the shepherds, but we also understand and relate to the shepherds’ wives. We’re creating a place just for ministry wives to connect with us and one another; feel loved, honored, and appreciated; to interact with women that relate to the unique challenges of ministry; and to be encouraged and supported by their peers. The new ministry is called Ministry Wives Rock! Why? Well, because we are awesome and because rock goes with the theme of Standing Stone. Get it?
I’m very excited about this new ministry and for what it will mean in my life and potentially in the lives of thousands of others. We have our first event on April 19th. It will be a small group of women getting together in an intimate setting – a gorgeous home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We have high hopes for the connections that will take place among the women that attend. We can see these small gatherings happening all over the country as the ministry of Standing Stone and, specifically, Ministry Wives Rock expands.
Will you do me a favor and pray for this event? Will you pray for the women that God will bring to us? Will you pray for hearts to be open to new friendships and possibly to forming mentoring relationships between Standing Stone mentors and the women attending?
I don’t know where this ministry will take me, how it will expand, or who I will meet in the future. But I’m excited to find out. I may not excel in a large group, but this I can do. And do well. To have the opportunity to form deep relationships, move past the fluff to the heart of the matter, and to be an encouragement is a joy to an introvert like me. I’m so glad God meets us where we are and uses us just as we are, aren’t you?