Top Posts for the Month of October

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If you missed them, here are the top posts for the month of October:

  1. What our Family Does on Halloween
  2. What Now for our Family (And How You can Be a Part of our Lives Now)
  3. Beauty Comes out of Brokenness
  4. The Beginning of The End
  5. Sometimes, This is How Introverts Feel :)
  6. My Journey of Losing Weight
  7. When Eating Becomes a Sin
  8. 10 Gospel Truths about Homosexuality
  9. This is the End (Why Most Sermons Fail)
  10. A Simple Time-Management Principle

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. What your church can learn from Joel Osteen and his church. While I disagree with much of Osteen’s theology, this article is a great read for pastors and what they can learn from him.
  2. Brian Croft on How a pastors should schedule his week.
  3. How to help your child read with discernment.
  4. Bob Franquiz on The challenges of an introverted pastor. Definitely have applied these in my ministry.
  5. How do Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll & Alistair Begg prepare a sermon.
  6. Rich Birch on 5 time wasters for pastors.
  7. What to learn from a church spy. Pastors need to read this.
  8. Doug Wilson on A childish life. Great look at the growing desire of what Time Magazine calls “The Childfree life.”
  9. What the teen choice awards tell us about youth culture. If you don’t read Walt’s blog and you are a parent or a pastor, shame on you.
  10. Sam Storms on Why God doesn’t save everyone.
  11. When you pray with your children, you are teaching them how to pray.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Scott Williams on 10 things you need stop and start doing. Great list.
  2. Don’t pack too much into your sermons.
  3. Brian Croft on How much vacation time should a pastor use. My answer: all of it.
  4. Trevin Wax on Why gay marriage is good (and bad) for the church. I appreciate Trevin’s balanced answers here.
  5. The introverted pastor. As an introvert and a pastor, I can relate.
  6. Barnabas Piper on Why men should books about men instead of men’s books. Great perspective.

The Power of Introverts

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Last year, I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop TalkingAs an introvert, I found this book insightful and incredibly helpful. It explained so much about my personality and how best to use my introvertedness as a leader.

Recently, Susan did a live Q&A with several bloggers who blogged about advanced copies of the book. Here are some more thoughts from Susan on the topic of personalities:

What would be your advice for living with a spouse who is an introvert? Particularly ways to solve disputes when only one side is willing to do any talking!

This is such an important question (and I address it at length in the chapter in QUIET on introvert-extrovert relationships). Introverts and extroverts are often attracted to each other as marriage partners (for good reason), but they have dramatically different approaches to conflict. Extroverts are what psychologists call “confrontive copers,” while introverts tend to seek to defuse conflict. The problem is that the more extroverts confront their introverted partners, the more aggressed the introverts feel – and the more they withdraw, leaving their extroverted partners feeling shut out in the cold. On the other hand, the more that introverts try to defuse conflict with quiet talk, the more vehement their extroverted partners grow in response – causing introverts to feel insulted or attacked.

The only way out of this impasse is for each partner to truly understand where the other is coming from, and to borrow the other’s coping style. For an extrovert, this means airing grievances as quietly, mildly, and respectfully as you can. And for introverts, this means engaging head on with problems, even when this feels threatening and unpleasant. Good luck, it’s worth it!

How do you classify someone who prefers their own company and activities they can do by themselves, but has forced themselves to act in a more extroverted way? I enjoy being alone and love reading and creative writing. However, in order to promote and build my dental practice, I have made myself participate in community activities, and in order to be a more active part of my childrens’ lives I am part of a group of parents that work and play together. I even enjoy these activities, all the while thinking that I’d rather be home alone with my husband and kids, curled up by a toasty fire with a good book or sharing a movie with them. Have I remade myself into an extrovert or just putting on an act?

It sounds like you’re an introvert who’s gotten really good at acting like a pseduo-extrovert – and nothing wrong with that, if it serves goals that matter to you (your dental practice, your kids’ social life.) Just make sure to get the quiet time you need – and that your family probably needs, too.

What do extraverts need to understand most about introverts?

When they don’t engage animatedly with you, this doesn’t mean that they don’t like or love you! They just need to recharge their batteries frequently, and might be less demonstrative than you are. Look for signs of quiet passion!

As an extrovert married to an introvert, how can I make his social experiences more satisfying and less stressful?

What a great and caring question. Well, for one thing, make sure there aren’t too many of them. No introvert enjoys going out night after night…but they might really enjoy the right social events in measured doses. The best experiences tend to be with close friends, or based on events that are of intrinsic interest – eg a movie, a concert, etc.

How do you see introverts having any type of an impact on our predominately extrovert society?

They already do! Many of our finest leaders and artists have been introverts. It’s usually a matter of making your own natural strengths work for you (for example, the Campbell Soup CEO Doug Conant was famous for writing 30,000 personal notes of thanks to high-performing employees) while gaining the skills you need to fake extroversion when you need to.

Also, social media is an introvert’s friend – it’s a way of connecting with tens, hundreds, thousands of people from the comfort of your own home or office.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

If you know me, you know that I am an introvert and love books. A book written by an introvert about introverts, seems like a great read to me.

Enter Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking (kindle version) by Susan Cain. In it, Cain looks at the different between extroverts and introverts. She looks at research on the brain, how each interact in team settings, how they learn, how they make decisions, how they make speeches, how they recharge. It was a fascinating look at how we are the way we are.

One of the more interesting things for me was not only understanding more about who I am (high school and college made a lot more sense to me after reading this), but how I raise our kids, especially introverts. The research she cites about education and how introverts do in education in elementary schools was downright frightening and something more parents should be aware of.

Here are just a few of the things I highlighted:

  • Introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.
  • Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, said Jung, extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.
  • Introverts often work more slowly and deliberately. They like to focus on one task at a time and can have mighty powers of concentration. They’re relatively immune to the lures of wealth and fame.
  • Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions. Nor are introverts necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.
  • Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.
  • Teens who are too gregarious to spend time alone often fail to cultivate their talents “because practicing music or studying math requires a solitude they dread.”
  • Top performers overwhelmingly worked for companies that gave their workers the most privacy, personal space, control over their physical environments, and freedom from interruption.
  • Open-plan offices have been found to reduce productivity and impair memory.
  • Studies have shown that performance gets worse as group size increases: groups of nine generate fewer and poorer ideas compared to groups of six, which do worse than groups of four. The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,” writes the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham. “If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.”
  • Highly sensitive people tend to be keen observers who look before they leap. They arrange their lives in ways that limit surprises. They’re often sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, pain, coffee. They have difficulty when being observed (at work, say, or performing at a music recital) or judged for general worthiness (dating, job interviews).
  • The highly sensitive tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive (just as Aron’s husband had described her). They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions—sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear.
  • If we assume that quiet and loud people have roughly the same number of good (and bad) ideas, then we should worry if the louder and more forceful people always carry the day.
  • We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.
  • Introverts are uniquely good at leading initiative-takers. Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions.
  • Studies have shown that performance gets worse as group size increases: groups of nine generate fewer and poorer ideas compared to groups of six, which do worse than groups of four. The ‘evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,’ writes the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham. ‘If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.’
  • We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point.
  • Introverts tend to sit around wondering about things, imagining things, recalling events from their past, and making plans for the future.
  • In other words, introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.
  • If it’s creativity you’re after, ask your employees to solve problems alone before sharing their ideas. If you want the wisdom of the crowd, gather it electronically, or in writing, and make sure people can’t see each other’s ideas until everyone’s had a chance to contribute.

Here is a talk that Susan gave at TED on the topic of the book:

All in all, a fascinating read.

Links to End the Week

  1. Scott Cochrane on How to be an inauthentic communicator
  2. 9 Marks on Practical ways for a pastor to love his family
  3. Some great kids worship music. I’m always on the lookout for worship music for my kids that is theologically sound and not annoying to listen to, this is a good example of one that made the list. 
  4. Aaron Armstong on How introverts can thrive in an extroverted world
  5. Tim Challies on 6 bullet points on preaching
  6. Julian Freeman on Satan’s desire for mothers and women

Links of the Week

  1. Jared Wilson on The stealth prosperity gospel. Love the line, “The prosperity gospel holds up “victorious Christian living” but does not equip believers for sustainable discipleship. So true.
  2. Justin Taylor on Tips for young preachers.
  3. Why being a lead pastor is lonely. Great insight for lead pastors and those who serve alongside of them.
  4. Ron Edmondson on 7 pitfalls of being an introverted pastor and 7 ways I work with introversion to protect my ministry. As an introvert, these rang true and the practices he mentioned in the 2nd post are worth reading if you are an introvert.