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What role does personality play when hiring a minister?

Beyond education and experience, it matters whether a preacher candidate is an introvert or an extrovert, say some experts.

Tracy Moore thinks it’s time to reconsider the typical preacher-hiring process.

“Me and You and the People in the Pews”   is a new book by Church of Christ minister Tracy Moore.
“Most of the time, our approach to finding a preacher is to read about the education and experience of different guys, run a few of them through the pulpit to see how well they deliver the message and then interview them on their beliefs,” said Moore, minister for the Vero Beach Church of Christ in Florida.

“I’m not saying that is all bad. In fact, it is smart,” he added. “However, what do you really know about someone after a weekend?”

The self-described extrovert’s new book, “Me and You and the People in the Pews” (Jenkins Institute, 2014), explores how various personality types can best function within the church.

Beyond typical resume items, a personality test can help determine what to expect from a minister, said Moore, who consults on searches.

Tracy Moore“Some churches are looking for someone who is out in the community, is good out front and sort of becomes the spokesman for the church in many areas,” he said. “They are looking for a motivator, leader or someone with a lot of energy. If I know that, I will show them the resumes of extroverts like the sanguine and choleric.
“But if those elders are used to being the out-front guys and really need someone who can help them organize, not create problems and is very methodical, they want an introvert like the melancholy or phlegmatic,” he added, using terms that his book highlights.

Considering personality traits of potential preachers and their wives could improve hiring processes, agreed Sherry Pollard, assistant director of the counseling center at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.

Sherry PollardAn introverted wife, for example, “needs to be allowed to be who she is and not expected to fit the mold of the stereotypical preacher’s wife who is always busy and involved with people,” said Pollard, whose husband, Paul, serves as an elder of the College Church of Christ in Searcy.

“She may not want to teach Bible class. Don’t judge her,” Pollard added. “She has other ways she can serve God and his people.”

Ryan Fraser, who teaches in the graduate mental-health counseling program at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., advocates open dialogue about a prospective minister’s personality traits.

“A good question to ask a minister candidate is: ‘Are you more energized and refueled when you are by yourself or when you are with larger groups of people?’” said Fraser, preacher for the Bethel Springs Church of Christ in McNairy County, Tenn.
Ryan Fraser
“A good follow-up would be: ‘How do you go about regulating and balancing your need for time alone versus time spent with others in ministry?’ And, ‘What could we do as leaders to help you strike a healthy balance and empower you to play to your strengths and gifts?’”
An introvert forced to portray an outgoing, gregarious persona — with insufficient “alone time” to refuel — could suffer an emotional and spiritual toll, Fraser said.

“Therefore, he will need to pace himself, or he will very possibly be in danger of burning out of ministry,” Fraser said. “The leaders of the congregation should be sensitive to his need for privacy and rest.”
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