One thing many people don’t realize about introverts is that we’re not all the same.
Some of us are mildly introverted, and others are so strongly introverted that they feel like they are engaging in psychological warfare when they host a group of people in their home.
I’m writing for all introverts, but especially for those pastors’ wives who tend toward strong introversion. The expectations for you to be hospitable may feel burdensome. One of the qualifications for your husband’s ministry is hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2 and Titus 1:8), and because of the oneness of your union, his duty will—at least to some degree—become yours. The Bible calls all believers to be hospitable (1 Peter 4:8–9), but pastors’ wives can experience more pressure in this regard because hospitality is literally in our husband’s job description.
The struggle for introverts is real. But we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that a solitude-loving introvert may be the exact person God wants to use for a people-saturated ministry. In fact, we may be surprised to find that by God’s grace, even introverts can become hospitality-loving people.
Sinful Desires That Hold Us Back
Some people assume that introverts can’t change—that because God made us to love quiet and privacy, we will never enjoy hospitality. To a certain degree, I agree. I will never be extroverted; I can never fully relax until I’m alone or with my intimate family members. At the same time, I have seen how God has grown my love for people and my capacity to welcome them into my life.
Being introverted doesn’t mean we get a pass on sinful tendencies that hinder us from showing hospitality. It’s important that we can be honest with God about the sinful barriers that hold us back from showing hospitality. For example:
- Are we selfish with our time and resources?
- Do we crave comfort too much?
- Are we fearful about what people will think?
- Do we underestimate God and His ability to provide for us?
- Do we fear others more than God?
Honestly searching our hearts before God in these areas will help us make spiritual progress.
God doesn’t want us to be enslaved by sin. He wants us to know the freedom that comes when we walk by the Spirit and resist the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). No amount of solitude can bring peace to a heart that is resisting the Spirit’s work. By contrast, even introverts find contentment in a crowded room when they walk by the Spirit and show hospitality to others.
Extra-Biblical Expectations That Cripple Us
It’s essential to know how God uniquely formed us, so that we can be hospitable without false guilt or a nervous breakdown. Sometimes we have preconceived ideas about what a pastor’s wife should be like. Perhaps we’ve had an experience at a previous church or read a blog post that shared an idealized version of hospitality. But a woman’s temperament, capacity, and season of life may make these standards impossible to live up to.
Introverted pastors' wives need more time away from people than our extroverted counterparts. It’s okay, really. It may sound pious to burn out for God, but in reality, when we take time to rest and refresh our souls, we will likely increase the fruitfulness and length of our ministry.
Another consideration is our husband’s health. During difficult seasons in pastoral ministry, we may need to reserve more energy and time to support him in his pastoral work. This will necessarily require us to say “no” to other ministry opportunities.
It takes humility to admit our limitations. God is the only one who never rests and never fails people. But the rest of us are prone to overcommit and underdeliver. Thankfully, there is grace for pastors' wives. Christ didn’t die for us because we met everyone’s expectations or because we accomplished more than the next person. He “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Tim. 1:9).
A Way Forward
The Cambridge Dictionary defines hospitality as “the act of being friendly and welcoming to guests and visitors.” Christians love hospitality because it reflects the good news of the gospel. Those of us who were strangers and alienated from the promises of God are now brought near by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13). At its heart, Christianity is about welcoming people in.
It can be life-saving for overburdened introverts to realize that hospitality doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing event. There are many ways to welcome people into your life when you don’t have the capacity to host everyone in more elaborate ways. For example, I’ve found spiritually edifying conversations happen when I invite a woman for a walk or organize a group playdate for our kids at the park. Sometimes it’s as simple as offering to drive a group of ladies to a Bible study or women’s event. That time waiting in the carpool lane creates community and welcomes people into your circle of friends.
Hospitality may manifest itself differently in the lives of introverts and extroverts, but at its heart, it seeks to emulate the One who welcomed us in.
Yes, dear introverted pastor’s wife, you may require more recovery time, more layers of antiperspirant, and more chamomile tea to calm your racing heart. But God knit you together with your unique temperament and capacity for people-saturated ministry, and He will provide what you need to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom. 15:7).