We may not think much of our personality traits and how they impact our lives, particularly as priests and presvyteres. However, there is one personality trait that influences our lives perhaps more than any other, and that is where we fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. For the first 25 years of my life as a presvytera I did not give much thought to my place on this spectrum and how it impacted my involvement in parish life. Then my eyes were opened and I realized why:

  • Liturgy and coffee hour take so much out of me
  • I have some discomfort at wedding and baptism receptions
  • I tend to stay put where I am seated at a reception
  • I find one-on-encounters with people to be so life-giving
  • I always need to take some time to decompress and be alone after giving a presentation to a group of people
  • I am uncomfortable in a room of people I do not know well
  • I do not like parties and large gatherings
  • I love weekday liturgies, partly because so few people attend
  • I love to open our home to small groups of people
  • When I attend a large gathering at a home, you can often find me in the kitchen helping the host
  • I love a quiet Sunday afternoon
  • I enjoy being alone
  • . . .

As priests or presvyteras who are introverted, how do we honor that side of who we are and at the same time navigate with love and grace those aspects of parish life that are difficult for us? For this discussion board, we will cover several aspects of parish life and converse about what particular gifts we bring as introverts and the challenges we encounter. If you are not familiar with this recently published book, I suggest you consider reading it: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. This book covers the abundance of recent research on intro/extroversion and provides wonderful insights about the gifts the introvert brings to relationships and the work world.

Let’s begin this discussion with Sunday liturgy. For those of us who are introverted, Sunday liturgy and coffee hour can leave us exhausted and drained. Perhaps we can offer one another insights and suggestions about what we have done to navigate the unique blessings and challenges of Sunday mornings, given our introverted tendencies. I will leave it open-ended for now and add some discussion questions as we go along.

Keep in mind that we have several possibilities in regard to intro/extroversion in each clergy couple, which can create challenges for the marriage relationship: both husband and wife introverted; wife introverted/husband extroverted; wife extroverted/husband introverted; wife and husband introverted; wife and husband extroverted. So, if you are a presvytera who is extroverted and your husband is introverted, you might want to share ways in which your husband may need some extra love and care on Sundays when he finally returns home following liturgy and. . . .