It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ll be honest, some of it has to do with me learning to manage my own stress from the pandemic. Also, our church lost some dear people to Covid and it really affected me. Can you relate? Well, I am incredibly thankful the Holy Spirit inspired me to write something to you again. Still, keep me in your “pastor’s wife” prayers. Anway. Let’s get to it! Ok. Doesn’t it almost seem a counter-reality that a pastor’s wife would be shy or introverted? Maybe so, but it is a very true reality for so many of us. A shy pastor’s wife can easily feel bad about herself for not being a loud, roaring, boisterous extravert. This shouldn’t be so. You know, I used to think there should be something in the Bible or some sort of rule that pastors must marry extroverts – zero exceptions. But, we know that’s silly, right? Still, shy pastors’ wives exist and I want to boldly declare that it’s ok to be exactly who God created you to be.
You may notice I shifted pronouns in the above paragraph. Did you catch it? I switched between “us” and “they”. No, I’m not doing any politically correct mumbo jumbo. It was an intentional delineation between me being an introvert and the other temperament category who tends to be more on the shy end of the spectrum.
To be clear, I am not at all shy and there is a difference between the two terms.
According to research by Lynne Henderson, Philip Zimbardo, and Bernardo Carducci, shyness is linked to fear and, in my words, anxiety.
Shyness in pastors’ wives [and anyone] with this personality trait can have a huge effect on one’s self-image, how they behave, and even how they feel. I’ve read stories of shy children who want desperately to engage, but their fear to do so wouldn’t allow them. How inhibiting that must be for a child or anyone for that matter. In terms of how they feel, I’ve heard of shy people hyperventilating in social situations, having accelerated heart rhythms, or having sweaty palms. It’s real.
I don’t think shyness should be dismissed with a “go pray about it” mentality.
If this is you, I get it. I see you and I understand. Don’t beat yourself up.
Please allow me to go on to say there is nothing wrong with you.
Shyness is as much of a personality trait as the tone of your laughter. It’s part of who you are and what makes you…well, YOU. It is not something to be ashamed of and in my opinion, nor is it something you should work feverishly to change. Sure, you may have to manage it, but it’s not a weakness. This world full of exhibitionism, TikTok culture, and such could make you think you’re not “normal”. But, that is a lie.
Do you know what “normal” is?
It’s you being who God created you to be – whether you’re shy, introverted, or extroverted!
God made no mistakes in creating you. He didn’t allow anything He couldn’t control to happen to you and your personality bent is just as intentional as the filter He’s used to managing your life experiences.
My first message to you and any shy pastor’s wife
So, shyness is not bad.
Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you, pastor’s wife.
It may be something you have to manage to fulfill your purpose, but don’t beat yourself up thinking you’re “not right” for the role of being a pastor’s wife. Do you know what makes you and all of us perfect for our roles? The fact that we are married to our husbands! That’s what qualifies us.
That’s why God gives us the strength and grace to live it out and the Holy Spirit to guide us through it all. Stop being so hard on yourself, Pastor’s wife.
Be you! Be 100% unapologetically YOU!
Now, for the introverts…like me.
In a bit, I’ll share my tips for the shy pastor’s wife, but first I want to talk about the “close cousin” to shyness and that’s introversion.
It seems a guy named J.F. Jordan who wrote a book called “Character as Seen in Body and Parentagerote” studied the concept of introversion.
He was the first, I believe, to assert that the two personality temperaments included one that leans toward what he called the “extreme” and another that bends toward what he penned as “reflection.” I’m sure you can guess which he considered an extrovert, Pastor’s Wife, and which he considered an introvert.
Later, Carl Jung, a psychologist whom I largely credit my career as a Myers-Briggs and True Colors trainer to, built upon Jordan’s work and coined the terms introversion and extroversion.
He espoused the idea that one was more focused outwardly and the other inwardly. Think of that person you know that chats it up with absolutely everyone they encounter…even in the dreaded grocery store line.
That’s likely an outward-focused extrovert.
Alternatively, the person that processes more inwardly sees you extroverts coming with your chatty selves and will either look down at their phone until you find another conversational victim or dredge up the energy to engage with you.
I’m giving surface perspectives, but suffice it to say that an introvert feels no anxiety about interacting, they are just drained after doing so. That’s me to a “t”. On the other hand, a shy person could experience the situation a bit differently.
To be clear, after church or a party, I’m not going home and collapsing on my way up the stairs. But, I usually need about fifteen minutes to regroup.
Does this sound like you or someone you know?
For the introverted pastors wives, it’s all about energy
“Mama needs a minute”
I learned this about myself when my oldest was a small child.
After coming home from work, I used to fix his snack or allow him to play while I went into my room to change clothes, and just sat on my bed for a few minutes.
Little did I know that was me “recharging” a bit after a long day of work and interpersonal interaction.
Even though we’re not focusing on the extroverts, I’ll say they have the opposite experience. They come alive in groups and while interacting with people.
It energizes them!
They are the pastor’s wives usually running ten committees (not necessarily out of necessity). They love doing it. These pastors’ wives may also enjoy staying late to close the church down after every service. By “close the church down”, I mean they stay until the last person has left and been engaged with. Interacting with people comes easily for them…in fact, they thrive in it!
Isn’t it wild how God created us all to be different?
In my humble opinion, introverted pastors’ wives have to “bite the bullet” for the most part and just deal with the fact that they are not able to be off-putting just because it is comfortable for them.
Years ago, not long after I had married my husband, I remember exactly when I realized this truth. I’ve told this story so many times and after all these years it still cracks me up.It's okay to just need a moment to recover from being around human beings. Read the "Shy pastor's wife" blog post for more. Click To Tweet
A perfect illustration of how shyness and introversion can affect ministry life.
That poor old lady….she just wanted to talk to her pastor’s wife
See, after each Sunday church service, our church would sing a congregational song and my husband would give the Aaronic blessing.
Well, the minute he uttered his last syllable I used to “jet” out the door so fast you’d think I had a bus to catch or something! I mean no sooner did someone say “Amen”, than I was gone!
Honey, out the door and walking swiftly toward my car.
This was my regular practice and for the most part, I assumed no one cared or noticed.
But, on one particular Sunday, one of the elderly women – we call them church mothers – swung the back door open and called my name in a winded, out-of-breath voice.
I turned to see who was breathing so heavily and saw her sweet face and her visibly accelerated breathing. At first, I was worried something was physically wrong with her like a heart attack. I looked up the concrete stairs at her and she said [again breathing so heavily] “I just wanted to say ‘goodbye’ and I love you.”
On that sunny Sunday, I felt awful. That poor lady had practically run across the church just to catch me and greet me.
In my introversion, I was thinking only of myself. I never thought of the people who cared about me or that I meant something to. I was selfishly guarding my own mental energy.
(Another Introvert tee I designed..FOR MYSELF! 🙂… BECAUSE I’m SILLY AND LOVE TO LAUGH!)
That convicted me so and I never did that – on the regular – again.
Now, full disclosure, sometimes I will leave early because I am drained or more often because I didn’t plan my Sunday dinner very well and need to get something going before my husband gets home.
Hey, I’m a working wife, don’t judge me. 🙂
Shy pastor’s wife or not – it’s not about you or me.
In the end, my life should be about Jesus and what He wants me to do.
No way should it be so much about “me” or what I want all of the time.
Sure, it should sometimes, but definitely not all of the time.
Girl, a hard truth is Jesus died to set me free from the penalty of sin, NOT to make sure I’m “comfortable” all the time. In fact, in my discomfort, I think He gets the most glory because in my weakness He is demonstratively strong.
As an introvert pastor’s wife, I have learned to force myself to engage – even if I’d rather be home reading a book or knitting in my favorite chair.
God helped me change!
You know, Pastor’s Wife, I’m not sure what the research says, but I think I’ve taught myself to become what is called an ambivert – someone who is a combination of introversion and extroversion.
God gives us the grace to do what we need to do – ALWAYS. Truthfully, I’ll bet no one in my church would believe I am an introvert. I know this because whenever I mention it, most people always dispute it.
“You? An introvert…Naaaaaaw.”
That’s what I almost always hear. Wild.
God’s grace not only calls you into your pastors wife role, but it also equips you while the Holy Spirit is empowering you all along.
All this to say: as you trust Him and step out on faith, He enables you to change and morph into His image. His image is all-powerful and can handle anything!
Then there is also my deep-seated desire to please Him.
The only reason air is inflating and deflating our lungs is so we can please the Lord.
We get it twisted so often, don’t you think? I know I do. Sometimes, I forget my life is not my own and I’m not here to please myself. I’m here to please Him.
As I mentioned, nothing would make me happier than being at home writing, reading, cooking, and chilling – and I do that a lot.
But, when God calls me to mentor a young woman I don’t know or help counsel a couple or speak at a women’s event – I must go. I must submit to who God wants me to be.
Truth be told, so must you.
Let’s transition and talk about the shy
pastors wives now…
If you deal with shyness, again, there is nothing wrong with you UNLESS that shyness immobilizes you.
Remember, it is rooted in fear and you’ve been delivered from all your fears.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.Psalm 34:4
While you should embrace your personality traits, because they are part of your identity, they cannot hold you hostage, Sis.
Any part of your life that hinders you from fulfilling your purpose in God must be managed. It is a barrier; it is a problem.
The good news is by the power of the Holy Spirit, you CAN manage ANYTHING!
Should anxiety caused by your shyness become a big problem, do what the Bible says to do with anxiety. Do you remember what it says? It says to cast it on the Lord. Throw it on Him!
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” 1 Peter 5:7
Before church, before you speak, before you attend an event in which you know no one, pray and give God all that anxiety.
Then, focus on Him and move forward.
Take a deep breath…maybe two of them … and do what you need to do.
Silence the negative thoughts, Christian Woman.
The best way to quiet an anxious thought is to replace it.
Did you know God made you to be able to think only one thought at a time?
Seriously! It’s impossible to think of two things at once. When an anxious or negative thought surfaces, you replace it with a faith-filled one based on scripture.
Here are some examples:
“No one will talk to me?” Replace that thought with “the Holy Spirit will be with me and He will never leave me nor forsake me. I won’t be alone.”
“They won’t like me.” Replace that one with “Jesus loves me and I will love everyone I encounter.”
“I won’t know what to say.” Replace with “If I don’t know what to say, I won’t say anything. I’ll just engage however I’m comfortable and that’s ok.”
Put on your whole armor and do what God has you to do in life.
Whether it is chitchatting with church members or speaking to hundreds of women at a women’s conference.
Do it! Don’t let being a shy pastor’s wife hinder you or hold you back one bit.Shy pastor's wife from MarriedtoaPastor.com says "I should let nothing keep me from doing God's work". Click To Tweet
Just like with any fear, you have to just do it afraid! Like David said, “when I am afraid, I will trust in you”. You can find that in Psalm 56:3.
Other things that might help shy pastors wives:
- Role-play social situations with a best friend or family member who supports you 100%. Don’t pick anyone who isn’t really your friend. You know what I mean.
- Understand that EVERYONE feels shy sometimes. It’s not a disability nor something that is limited to the feeble or weak. It’s actually quite normal. Shy pastor’s wives shouldn’t be so hard on themselves.
- Avoid comparing yourself to extroverted people. Sure, they can work a room, but there are things you can do that they can’t. Affirm yourself and be you. They can be them; but, you be you.
- Set small interaction goals for yourself. For instance, set a goal to stay after church and chat one Sunday a month or to invite someone to coffee once a month. Do something to transition yourself from nursing your shyness. You have to step out on faith to conquer this thing, Pastors Wife!
I love you, fellow pastor’s wife and I hope this post blessed you.
These networking videos have some good tips…
This is another good one! She said speaking to others is more of a “developed skill”. Do you agree?
Here are some of my sources:
Lynne Henderson,Philip Zimbardo,Bernardo Carducci
First published: 30 January 2010 https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0870 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0870
Dane P. Blevins, Madelynn R. D. Stackhouse, Shelley D. Dionne
First published: 21 June 2021
Note: I often write using both “pastors wives”, “pastors’ wives” and “pastor’s wife”. I know the rules of grammar and spelling, but I do so for search engine optimization. Thanks for your tolerance.
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