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Functioning Outside My Personality

By Stephanie Nance

Stephanie Nance currently serves as the Communications Strategist for the Network for Women in Ministry. God has used her fifteen years in vocational ministry, a Master of Divinity in expository preaching, and a Doctorate of Ministry degree to shape her into an effective oral and written communicator. Stephanie's research and communication focus explores the intertwining of the mystery of God with the human experience in the digital information age and how it finds expression through the unknown, trust, longing, hope, and the rhythm of death and resurrection.

The sound of my heart rapidly pounding seemed to echo throughout the dark, empty chapel. Terrified at the worship service scheduled to begin in 1 hour, questions flashed through my mind. What was God thinking? Did He not know that I loathed public speaking? Out of all the students from which to choose, why me? Deep inside, I knew that God called me to preach. Why then did God not give me a vibrant personality that thrived in front of people?

When I entered ministry, I desired a different personality. I believed that ministry would be easier as an extrovert. After a couple of years, however, I realized that God knew what He was doing after all. As part of a pastoral team, I saw how my introverted, contemplative personality contributed a necessary balance and perspective to the team. What I previously perceived as a negative, I now celebrated as a positive. I began to see my personality as an asset in ministry.

When I entered ministry, I desired a different personality. I believed that ministry would be easier as an extrovert.

After studying my personality type, I have come to love the introverted Melancholy that I am. My ability to spend time alone to study, read, write songs, and explore the depths of my emotions (aka. moodiness), serves as a strength in ministry. The attributes of my personality that I once despised now operate in a capacity that cause people to seek me out for ministry and direction. My ability to internalize situations and concepts works well for me when communicating in a teaching, preaching, or any other setting.

Whereas extroverts typically draw energy from spending time in groups, introverts tend to draw energy from spending time in solitude. One of the more prevalent issues of balancing my personality type with ministry is that the energy and strength gained from studying, praying, and preparing to minister is quickly depleted while ministering. I found myself burned out from the amount of time spent with people after just a short time in ministry. Their wounds, hurts, and needs intensified my exhaustion, and solitude became a necessity for me to publicly function. However, in the busyness of life, it is still easy to neglect the time and space I need for God to restore me because of my passion for people and ministry. If I am not diligent about doing what I know I need to for God to restore me, the ability for Him to use me effectively suffers.

Most of us grow comfortable in our personalities. By nature or nurture, it is simply who we are. However, God will often call us out of our comfort zones. His call is not based on what a personality test determines. When God calls a person to do something, the science behind personality testing may not agree. That is when faith must be tightly grasped and obedience embraced. Although we prefer to function confidently in what we perceive to be our strengths, God freely gives us grace in our weakness and empowers us with His Holy Spirit.

His call is not based on what a personality test determines.

It has been over 10 years since that terrifying day in chapel. Since that day, I have successfully made it through that sermon and hundreds more like it. Today, I love to preach, and I am thankful that I did not allow my personality to limit God's call on my life. There is value to knowing your personality type and working in its strengths, but do not let that knowledge lock you in or out of a particular ministry. Allow the insight that you have about your personality to empower you and not limit you in what God has in store.