What strengths does a missional extrovert have? Are there advantages to needing to draw energy from social connections with others for a follower of Jesus? And what are some practical ways that a missional extrovert can deploy his or her strengths for the benefit of Jesus, his mission, and his gospel?
The twentieth century saw the meteoric rise of personality testing. One test in particular has grown especially popular — the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. The popularity of the MBTI® can be seen in the proliferation of people self-identifying as one of the Myers-Briggs personality combinations on social media.
Here are a few examples from Twitter:
— Krix (@krix) February 20, 2016
I can’t tell. I CAN’T TELL. I’m usually very perceptive but…I need clarity! #ESTJ
— Kelleh Jian (@oceallaigh_) February 5, 2016
I wish to live alone without anyone even friends🏃🏽 #ISTJ
— LA (@LamiaMub) February 22, 2016
And there are thousands and thousands and thousands of other posts like these!
And some of the time people on social media and in real life like to pit their personality type over against others, especially with regard to that first Myers-Briggs category: Extroversion vs. Introversion. This is something that I know first hand since my wife is an extreme extrovert and I’m a slight introvert. Periodically we like to compare notes about why being an extrovert or introvert is awesome, while clearly hinting that the other side of the equation isn’t quite as good.
Which is better? Well, in my humble opinion, extroverts had their time in the sun for years and years and years. Think about it, an extrovert tends to let you know about how awesome s/he is, while an introvert hopes you figure it out on your own.
But introversion has become a hot topic these days. With the popular book (which I highly recommend!) and TED talk (go watch it now…but come back!) by Susan Crain, introversion has become sexier and sexier. I’ve even written about the strengths of being an missional introvert.
So, it’s time that we let the extroverts shine again. Sure, being a missional extrovert comes with some challenges but I want to explore a few ways that being an extrovert helps someone follow Jesus in the real world.
Strengths of a Missional Extrovert
- Outgoing — A major part of being missional is interacting with other human beings. And this is something that a missional extrovert is great at! Since extroverts gain energy from being with other people, it only makes sense that they can use this for the benefit of the kingdom. While many of us may have to find internal motivation to connect with people in a way that points them to Jesus, an extrovert may not need the same kind of internal pep talk.
- Deeply relational — Being communal is a must for those who seek to follow Jesus in the real world. Why? Because it’s hard out there! And it’s hard within our missional communities too! We need extroverts to use their natural relational abilities to help us navigate these waters well. In fact, extroverts can really lead the way in helping us connect well with one another. And connecting well is essential if we are to make disciples the way that we see Jesus doing it in the Gospels.
- Naturally develops others — Leadership development is a key for discipleship to work properly. Why? Well think about it like this: If we don’t develop leaders as part of our disciple-making endeavors, then we won’t get past one generation. If we only focus on helping people start the journey of being a disciple, then how will those folks make disciples themselves? This is where we need extroverts since they are often good at helping others grow. This is the case because leadership development is a relational animal and extroverts tend to be great at relationships!
- Usually great at communicating — In order to follow Jesus well in the real world we need to communicate well. And a missional extrovert can really help a lot here. All the extroverts that I know are good at communicating in one form or another. Some are great at teaching. Some are great at preaching. Some are great at one-on-one talks. And many are great at sharing the gospel with their words. This is not to say that introverts aren’t good at communicating also but extroverts tend to be excellent communicators thanks to their relational natures.
- Working in teams is second-nature — Introverts tend to excel in all things that require solitude (and there are many!). But a missional extrovert often finds great success working in teams. They are good at communicating. They’re great at relationships. And they usually loved group projects and study cohorts in school. So teams come pretty naturally to extroverts. And teams are really at the heart of being missional. We need to follow Jesus together. We need to engage in evangelism together. And we need to make disciples together.
- Generally pretty convincing — Business leaders often claim that extroverts tend to outsell their introvert counterparts, though not always, of course. How many people explain this is that extroverts are not only more natural communicators, they are also better at convincing people of new ideas. Now don’t get me wrong, evangelism is not about convincing anyone of something logically but it is about convincing someone of something relationally and experientially. And extroverts have these ways of convincing down in spades!
- Often good at motivating others — Seeing that extroverts have spent more time relating with others than introverts, they tend to be quite good at helping others become more motivated. Also, all that experience in relationships can help a missional extrovert put him/herself in the shoes of others, which is a huge help when trying to be encouraging. And, if we’re all honest, following Jesus in the real world can be tiring and we all need a little motivation from time to time!
- Good at literally talking about the gospel — Extroverts have fears just like everyone else but often when it comes to talking to people about Jesus, the fears of extroverts are a little more surmountable than those of introverts. The experience that extroverts have in speaking with others in many other contexts can be generalized to evangelism-specific situations as well. It should be noted that not all extroverts are the best listeners, which is an important aspect of evangelism, but they generally have the speaking part down pat!
- Tend to be good with new people — For an introvert, there’s little that’s more awkward than trying to get to know someone new. What do you talk about? At what pace? Where do you stand in reference to the new person? What do you do with your hands? For most extroverts, these questions don’t even make sense! They very naturally have a knack for doing things just so in order to help a new person feel at ease. So as a missional community makes disciples and folds new people into the mix, it will be imperative to have some a missional extrovert or two around to hep put the new folks at ease.
- Often excel in chaotic environments — While it’s not always true that introverts prefer controlled environments and that extroverts prefer a bit more potential disorder, it is true that the more relationships someone is entangled with, the more chaotic her/his life tends to be. And it’s this entangled chaos that provides many extroverts with a perfect platform for them to continue to connect well with others. And when following Jesus in the real world there is a ton of chaos to contend with. Thus it follows that an extrovert may be able to manage that chaos a bit better than an introvert.
So being an extrovert doesn’t have to be a bad thing if someone is seeking to become more missional. In fact, being extroverted can be greatly helpful for those who are seeking to follow Jesus in the real world. However, it must be stated clearly here at the end, this blog is not intended to say that extroverts are the best at being missional or that they are inherently better than introverts. Not at all! Both extroverts and introverts are needed for the mission of Jesus to move forward effectively!
What do you think? Did I miss any strengths that a missional extrovert might have? If so, let me know in the comments below!