Christian Chronicle

The introvert behind the pulpit


The introvert behind the pulpit: For these preachers, devotion to ministry requires balancing need for solitude with passion for sharing God’s word.

No offense, but people drain Mark Littleton of much-needed energy.

Here’s what invigorates him: sitting in his church office — alone — with his Bible, study books, computer and a Diet Dr Pepper.

“It’s not that I don’t want to be around people,” said Littleton, pulpit minister for the Athens Church of Christ in Tennessee. “I don’t mind that, for short periods, when it’s balanced out by my ‘alone time.’”

Like a surprising number of preachers, Littleton feels much more comfortable standing behind the pulpit than approaching strangers at a church fellowship meal.

“I think I was in my 30s before I realized that most preachers in my experience were actually introverts,” said Bruce McLarty, 57, a longtime minister who serves as president of Harding University in Searcy, Ark., and describes himself as slightly more extroverted than introverted.

Based on the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test, Lance Bennett qualifies as an introvert.

However, a person visiting the Riverside Church of Christ in Lafayette, La., where Bennett preaches, might never guess it.

Related story: What role does personality play when hiring a minister?

This story appears in the November 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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