You don’t have to be an extrovert!

A lots of Churches that I talk to have a very stereotyped idea of what a Youth Worker is. Among their assumptive menu of the qualities required will be Extroversion. It’s uncanny how often this seems to be the case, maybe it stems from how insecure so many people feel with teenagers and therefore assume you’d have to be very extroverted to work with them!
I certainly think the basic requirement of working with young people is to like them, it’d be quite scary if there was a Myers-Briggs set personality type that you had to be! (Can you imagine how naff Youth Work Conferences would be if we were all the same, although probably easier to organise!)
I am quite defintely an extrovert but this has it’s down sides as well. The Myers-Briggs analysis was really useful for me, it made sense of a whole bunch of stuff. Understanding that I get my energy from being with people was really useful, even if I was tired I’d soon be buzzing if people appeared but would crash twice as badly later. I now know that on residentials I need to take some space rather than just seek out people when I’m shattered! I also know how vital it is to have a balanced team of all sorts of personality types.
The point of this preamble was this article I discovered by Jenny Baker which rightly flies the flag for Youth Workers who are naurally more introverted.
It takes all sorts ….. and this includes Youth Work, probably even more so!

2 Replies to “You don’t have to be an extrovert!”

  1. Resisted the temptation to blog on the Sabbath (or Sunday, for that matter!), so here I am first thing Monday morning.
    Attended a lecture a couple of years back (on “Depression In Ministry” worryingly) where the lecturer (forget his name for the moment) claimed that people working in ministry did generally have a similar Myers-Briggs profile. But that, crucially, extroversion / introversion wasn’t a factor; only the other three markers would be similar.
    He claimed to have gotten a similar result from people in ministry in a variety of countrues and cultures. And he tried it out on us – only to discover that he didn’t get quite the results he was expecting.
    There were just five or six youth workers / ministers in the room, the other 20 or so were baptist ministry students or ministers. Two things that struck me:
    First, when I peered over the shoulders of my youth work colleagues, we were indeed evenly split over the introvert / extrovert thing, but all our other results were pretty much the same (might say something about the college recruitment policy of course).
    Secondly, if you subtracted our results out from the overall total, then he would have gotten his expected result. Not sure what conclusion to draw from that.

  2. Ray,
    Thanks that’s given me something to think on, I will do a bit of a survey at the Matrix Conference. While agreeing that youthworkers will tend to be people type people I had certainly not thought of there being a similar profile outside of E/I, watch this space,
    Youthblog (ESTJ)

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