Whether it is a student in your youth group or a member of your team, you have an introvert somewhere in your ministry. I recently got coffee with a student who happens to be an introvert himself. He spent the whole time venting about his frustrations with how people perceive introverts, really making me think of how our ministry cares for introverted students. I don’t think we can truly care for introverts until we throw out these three myths:
They can’t connect with others. I believe that when we see students hanging out alone or with just one or two people we think that they have trouble making friends and must have relational problems. While that may sometimes be the case, introverts often choose to have a few close friendships rather than a ton of people in their lives. There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely and we get the two confused too often.
They can’t lead. When we think of leaders, introverts are rarely the first that come to mind. When we think of leaders, we think of people that love being onstage, giving passionate speeches or giving orders to people. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is ruling somebody out for a leadership position because they are an introvert. One of the leaders on our high school staff is an introvert. She isn’t the one that is always the center of attention and she certainly isn’t the most outspoken one out of all of us, but when our leadership is out of town our team naturally looks to her.
They need to be fixed. Sometimes, I think we get caught up in this idea of a success story of someone that went from really shy to becoming the center of attention. This idea leads us to think that there is something wrong with someone that would prefer to spend a Friday night alone than out on the town. We commonly make the mistake of glorifying extroverts and push others to become one. When we think about ways to push and develop introverts, we will often try to get them to do extroverted things. So we will try to put them on stage, put them in a video, etc.—things that we think will put them outside their comfort zone. But is that really growing them? What we really need to be doing is getting them to further understand and grow in the gifts and strengths that the Lord has given them rather than force them to do things that focus on their weaknesses.
What are other myths you think youth pastors usually make when dealing with an introverted student?