|Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World|
That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
So I did both.
My philosophy of teaching and preaching is simple: the vast majority of people in any audience will have forgotten most of what a speaker said within a few short days, if not hours. What they will remember is perhaps one or two stories or a quote or a single idea that resonated with them. Each listener will respond to something different, based on what resonated with him or her at that moment.
The teacher or preacher has no way of knowing, predicting, or controlling which things will be remembered. It may even be something that wasn't in the speaking notes at all but instead some off the cuff comment. All the best communication tricks, carefully emphasized signposts, or alliterative outline points will not likely have much effect on what each individual listener takes away from what you've said.
I have a pretty good idea what will be the most remembered thing I said in my sermon, based on the comments I received afterward.
I told attention-grabbing stories about the lives of prisoners. I offered practical and detailed encouragement about how everyday outside-the-prison ministry can in fact plant seeds that diverts someone from a path toward prison. I quoted scripture. I talked for about 40 minutes.
And the number one comment heard by both my wife and I during the post-sermon mingle was about my admission that I'm an introvert.
I talked about what qualifies someone for prison ministry, or any ministry where you're messily involved with the messy lives of messy people. As part of that thought process, I shared that in many ways I'm the last person anyone would think would be qualified to teach and counsel a room full of prisoners every week, because I'm an introvert.
I told everyone in my home church how, if they had been paying attention, they would have noticed that during the mingle times they'd most likely see me standing on the edge of a group of people, pretending to be part of the conversation. Or, just as often, I'm standing off by myself, watching the rest of the people chit chat.
But when I walk into the prison chapel, God somehow transforms me into a person who can lead a free-wheeling conversation with a roomful of convicted criminals.
And, of course, what most people will remember from my sermon is the morning Tim Robertson came out of the closet as an introvert.