Truth be told, I am not just an introvert, but an extreme introvert. Every self-assessment I have taken and my own self-awareness validates this fact. (I'm a solid #ISTJ for you #MyersBriggs lovers out there.) Many people are surprised to hear this, especially when they see me speaking to hundreds of Soldiers, giving a squad or platoon an encouraging word after PT, leading various Soldier events, and talking to people throughout the day. This is because I have learned that I need to remain intentional in order to overcome my own natural tendencies. Often the biggest hurdle I must deal with in my line of work is the man in the mirror.
#Introverts are not normally shy, (a common misconception), but we put fuel in the tank by being away from activity, enjoying solitude, and accomplishing individual tasks (such as quietly writing on a website!) By the nature of my work environment I am surrounded by people...lots of people. This easily sets the conditions for my introversion to get exposed. It's not uncommon for people to notice my demeanor and tell me I look tired, especially in the late afternoon or at evening events. I'm not tired...I'm exhausted. The activity of the day, numerous conversations, and information overload has taken a toll on me and it's hard to hide it.
I once had a higher ranking chaplain ask me why I became a chaplain since I wasn't naturally a people person and I didn't feel strong in my helping abilities. It was a fair question. At the time it stunned me and I truly did not know what to say to him...or myself. In an instant my motivations were in question and I wondered if this was the wrong kind of work for my personality type. Introverts do not shy away from deep introspection, painful as it may feel. We tend to be quite hard on ourselves but also may be very driven individuals. For me, that's because I take life seriously, too seriously according to multiple people who took it upon themselves to act as my (uninvited) advisers. In our culture, introversion can be perceived as a weakness, (it is not.) However, Scripture reminds us that in God's own way, He can turn even our weaknesses into strength. ("When I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:10)
I sometimes believe I would be far better in my line of work if I were an extrovert. At times I envy #armychaplains who are so clearly extroverted. They seem to fit in better and build rapport faster with their Soldiers. I have observed that extroverted individuals can quickly integrate into their organization and become valued members of the team. To some degree, this is true. However, I have also observed that some extroverts are not into details and that can be a negative in the military. Although part of me wishes I was more outgoing, I find that consistency, dependability, and staying intentional go just as far, although it takes a little more time for that approach to build into a strong reputation. Even though I see my personality as a potential obstacle, in my heart of hearts I know I would fail if I tried to be someone I'm not.
I rest in my belief that God made me who I am and gave me everything I need to fulfill my calling. He did the same for you, too.