On People Skills

My chosen career is in church ministry, particularly in the area of ministry with young people. I had been asked many times not IF but when I was going to enter “full time ministry” as a pastor.

I often answered, half-jokingly, that I am already in full-time ministry. Just not as a pastor.

Why have I not decided to be a pastor?

In my late teens and early twenties, I came to understand myself as an introvert. I literally cringed at the prospect of being a pastor, meeting people and engaging with them every Sunday and everyday.

Pastors, at least in our faith tradition in the Philippines, tend to be very visible. They officiate weddings, baptisms, and funerals. They pray a lot for people on their birthdays, when they have a new house or car, when they are about to take an exam, and when they are going through tough times.

In short, the life and work of a pastor requires a huge deal of dealing with people. As a Pastor’s kid, I have also learned that Christians, as much as any other human, can be difficult and mean.

So that was probably one factor why I didn’t become a pastor. I have other reasons that I may write about in another post.

Thankfully, I have met a lot of introverts who are amazing pastors. They seem to have learned how to deal with people even though they are still introverted. It’s almost like they can turn on their extrovert mode and socialize with many many people.

Recently, I had been thinking and reflecting about my experience with introverted leaders. One, in particular that I have recently spent about 2 weeks on a hiking trip, seemed reserved and quiet.

I thought that he was very introverted. Then I remembered a conversation with another pastor serving at a sister-agency of our office. He said that being a pastor and a Christian for that matter, requires empathy and that can almost always lead to connection with people.

This week, I met several young people who are in the process of becoming pastors of the United Methodist Church. One was an introvert and we got into talking about the relational skills needed in her work as a pastor.

We talked about “people skills,” and because it is a set of skills, then it can be learned. It can be practiced. And it can be acquired.

For introverts, there may be a steep learning curve. But the good news is that it can be acquired!

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