Spend any length of time around me, and it won’t take you long to realize I’m an introvert. And not just the “I get re-energized by being on my own” type, but the reserved, shy, “please don’t make me be the center of attention” type. Not exactly great small group leader material. However, there have been seasons of life when that is exactly what God asked of me. Successfully leading a small group as an introvert is far from impossible, but it can be tricky. Here are a few tips for all my fellow introverts out there.
1. Embrace it.
You are an introvert, and no matter how much you try to pretend otherwise, nothing can change that. It’s hard-wired into your DNA. The social, communal environment of a small group can be intimidating for the introvert, especially when you’re tasked with leading that group. But that doesn’t mean you have to make yourself the most social person in the room. Leaders lead best by example, and this means being true to who God has made you, being vulnerable about any hesitations you may have, and keeping the overall health of the group in focus.
2. Own it.
From the very beginning of your group, clue everyone else in on this part of your identity and how you see it impacting your group dynamics. Then you won’t waste time trying to be someone you’re not, and you won’t worry about being misunderstood. Opening up in this way also lays the groundwork for the rest of your group to share similar insight about themselves, a great step toward connecting with and understanding one another.
3. Run with it.
I may be biased, but I think introverts have some great things to offer from the small group leader role, beginning with the desire to not do all the talking. While a certain level of talking is required of the leader, being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be loud. As an introvert, you have the innate ability to listen well and share the floor, which will help your group members feel heard and valuable. You also may find that it’s easier for you to connect with your group members one-on-one. When you’re intentional about that, you take an important step toward mutual discipleship, truly investing in another person’s life and encouraging the rest of your group members to do the same.
Our world has known some very successful introverts: Bill Gates, J. K. Rowling, Abraham Lincoln, and Roy Rogers, to name a few. Take a cue from them—being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful small group leader. It’s all about pointing others to God anyway, right?
Laura Magness is a content specialist for Lifeway’s Discipleship in Context and smallgroup.com. A graduate of Samford University and Dallas Theological Seminary, she lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband Nathan and their two sons, Carter and Everett.