Being Myself in Ministry

People who are unashamedly and unapologetically themselves have always drawn me in.

My little sister is a great example of this: She is an over-active, over-hyper, extra-stimulated version of myself. I appreciate that, because she doesn’t change that part of herself for anybody.

I did.

Most of my childhood and teenage years, the parts of me that were outgoing and extroverted were quenched by people who labeled me as “obnoxious.”

That part of me never left, but it definitely matured. And thankfully so–I knew that my desire to be the center of attention had a great heart behind it (a heart to please people and affirm them), yet it left a taste in peoples’ mouths because of my lack of maturity to properly channel my energy.

Working primarily in junior high for the past three months has brought out this “true self” of mine–someone who is outgoing, loves people, and outrageous at times.

Here’s the difference, though:
Young me wasn’t comfortable with my personality.
New me is unapologetic for the way that I’m wired.

Last week a coworker pinpointed me as an “ENFJ” from the Meyer-Briggs. An ENFJ is an extrovert with an introverted intuition that molds to situations and desires to meet people where they are.

This means that I can be obnoxious during a game or announcements, but when I teach my priorities shift. My deepest desire isn’t to entertain students, but to provide them a comfortable place to grow in God and in community with others.

“Old Heather” was an entertainer from her own self-loathing. “New Heather” uses her awkwardness and ability to make fun of herself to show Junior Highers that they can be their true self.  “Old Heather” wasn’t comfortable with the quiet. “New and Improving Heather” requires down-time and doesn’t see it as “nobody loves me and I have no friends and that’s why no one asked me to hang out on a Friday night and I’m eating an entire pizza.” There’s a balance now :)

Ministry is bringing the “real me” out. When processing this with a coworker, he said that is the entire point of this whole thing–so many of us put on a different voice and personality when we step behind a pulpit. We try to be something we’re not in ministry–and as we all know, it is tiring trying to be someone you’re not.

If I believe that it important to provide a place for students to be themselves, than I need to be myself. Sure, that self is kind of obnoxious at times. Sure, that self is in a process of maturity and learning how to better filter thoughts. Yet, at the same time, my obnoxiousness is a reflection of God’s zeal and passion for us.

What about you? Are you your true personality with students? What does that honestly look like?

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