Personality and Church Planters

by | Mar 22, 2013 | Church Planting | 1 comment


Ever since Carl Jung popularized the descriptors of extrovert and introvert in his 1921 classic – Psychological Types – people have been classified, categorized, stigmatized, and pigeonholed as one or the other. Most social researchers report that in the American culture, 75% tend to the extroversion end of the scale whereas 25% reflect the introversion dimension. Some feel that the division is closer to 50/50. Based on my decades in the new church leadership arena, I would say that far more planters are extroverts than introverts. The general opinion is that an introvert is significantly handicapped in the role of planter.

Granted, the two personality types work differently and distinctly. One tackles assignments quickly, will trade accuracy for speed, is comfortable making what some would term rash decisions, and is at home with risk-taking and multi-tasking. The other is more slow and deliberate in address tasks and tends to do so one at a time, can exercise extraordinary concentration, doesn’t “buzz” as easily and readily, and is not as reward-driven. You can guess which is what without much difficulty.

Jim Collins – the influential and highly respected management theorist and leadership consultant of Good to Great fame – determined that “level-five leaders” are not typically characterized by flash and charisma, but rather are described by colleagues with terms such as quiet, humble, modest, reserved, gracious, self-effacing, and understated. In my experience, I would suggest that extroversion can actually reduce innovation and creativity – two vital dynamics crucial to successful church planting. Why? Extroverted leaders can be so intent on putting their own stamp on things that they run the risk of losing the good ideas and input of others and/or allow followers to lapse into passivity.  Extroverts often view the office wall as an unnatural, dysfunctional barrier and come to revere the “hive mind” and the miracle of “crowdsourcing.”

I would caution church planters about the natural tendency to blow past introverts on their staff and launch team thereby making introverts to feel unseen, ignored, forgettable, under-appreciated, or marginalized. Harness the insightfulness, reflectiveness, and creativity of the introverts on your team. Your plant will be enriched by such leadership intentionality. The robust nature of ideas and perceptiveness of suggested strategies will be well worth your patience with the internal processors on your team. Trust me.

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