I am an introvert. I’ve known this for a long time, but only in the past three or four years have I begun to grapple with what this means in any sort of significant way. When I was in graduate school, one of the first orientation projects we were given was to undertake a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (R). The MBTI was new to me then, but it’s old hat to me now. I was trained a few years ago in how to administer it and became qualified to do so.
My ‘type’ has always been consistent each time I’ve taken the inventory: ISTJ. That means that I gain my energy from being alone, I take in information through my five senses, I process information by thinking, and I order my life in a predictable way. Today, I have been reminded of my introversion most profoundly.
Today was my day off. I always take Monday, because there’s always the best probability that I will get the day if I take it early in the week. Not every pastor subscribes to this notion, but it has worked for me. I am blessed inasmuch as my wife is also able to take this day off, so we normally get to spend it together as our Sabbath. However, the reality of ministry is that, sometimes, one has to forsake one’s regular day off in order to undertake profoundly important matters of business. In this case, it was a funeral, and a pre-marital counselling session with a couple I love dearly and with whom I have had much difficulty scheduling time together. It was a good day, and I don’t have any misgivings about having given up my day off for these purposes.
But I am totally wiped out.
The reason is that I spent virtually the whole day engaged in conversation, surrounded by people. And as an introvert, that drains my energy. Does that mean I shouldn’t engage in conversation, or be surrounded by people? I suppose one could take that route, but in my line of work, I wouldn’t last very long in the job! No, the answer doesn’t come from avoiding those things which drain my energy. The answer comes in compensating for the loss by spending a significant amount of time on my own – which I have done this evening.
Because it was my day off, however, this over-extraversion, as I might call it, also upset my weekly rhthym of rest. Again, I am in no way regretting how I spent the day, but as the day comes to a close, my body and my spirit are making it abundantly clear that their normal patterns have been shaken. I will need to compensate for this in some way – though I’m not sure what way that is just yet.
All this is to say that it is important that we know ourselves. I can, of course, highly recommend the MBTI as a means of learning more about ourselves (email me if you’d like to take the inventory online, and walk through its meaning with me, for a small fee). There are other tools, of course, but whatever you choose to do, please learn more about yourself. You’ll be glad you did. Like me, perhaps you’ll discover how and why you react to various things that happen in your life!