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Being a priest, being an introvert: It’s about love

Being a priest, being an introvert: It’s about love

Author and photographer Karen Walrond interviews the Reverend Sarah T. Condon for Quiet Revolution about simultaneously being an introvert and an Episcopal priest. As a teenager, Condon discovered the possibility of Episcopal priesthood:

I started to articulate that this was what I was going to do probably around the age of 10. And then, I wasn’t really sure what that path would look like for me, but as seniors in high school, we were asked to do these projects that tied something that we were interested in the world with a passion that we had. And I had a teacher who went to church with me, and she said, “You know, you should do something about the church!” And so I found a mentor at the Episcopal cathedral downtown and said that I wanted to do a project about women in the Episcopal priesthood. And unbeknownst to me, instead of giving me history books about that, he gave me books about discernment for ordained ministry—in other words, to start me praying about and thinking about ordained ministry. I was 18 at the time.

Condon started her undergraduate studies deep in the south, at the Center for Southern Culture at Ole Miss in Oxford:

KW: That’s interesting because I think if you think of a Christian faith in the south, Episcopalian is not what you would think of! I feel like—maybe I’m wrong—I feel like when you start talking about religion, particularly with the Civil Rights movement, you think of the Baptist Church, and maybe AME Churches, more than the Episcopal faith.

SC: Well, for example, in the history of the town of Oxford, which is where Ole Miss is, there were massive student riots that happened when we had our first black student attend Ole Miss. It was really violent, down in the town square, and history tells us that it wasn’t actually all students: there were a lot of people from town involved as well. And the Episcopal priest of St. Peter’s walked out among the people who were throwing glass, and among gunfire and extreme violence, and pointed at people and called them by their first names—because remember, Oxford is not a big town—and said, “You need to go home.” And so, while we might not look at Southern Studies and think “the Episcopal church,” for me, there were things I learned in the department that made me think, “That’s where I want to find myself. That is something I would be honored to be a part of.”

After Ole Miss and discernment, Condon went to Yale Divinity. Today, she is assistant for pastoral care at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two children. An introvert, she is also a frequent public speaker. She sees introversion as part of being Christian, and love as the connecting thread:

You know, I only think being an introvert hinders me if it’s been a really long day of interacting with people and I know that there’s even more interaction that’s going to happen later. But I actually don’t know how people function in terms of leading churches, but also simply being Christian, without having some sort of “introverted” time. I think that part of being Christian means that we are called to step away, you know?

We see that in Scripture, where Jesus sort of steps away and takes a beat and prays, and I think that that’s crucial to us connecting with God and connecting with what God’s purpose is in our lives…what God’s—I hate the word “purpose”—intention is for us. Because I think when we just keep charging ahead, and we keep talking, and we keep being loud and “out there,” I think it becomes about us in those moments. It becomes about our own agenda because we’re not stopping and saying, “Lord, what would you have me do?” If we’re not stopping and reflecting on that passage, “We love because He first loved us”—not because it was our idea and we kept charging ahead and articulating and explaining—but because we take a minute and we remember it all starts and begins again with God and not with our own human flawed bravado.


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John Rabb

I am an INTJ and the greatest joys I have in ministry involve the public roles; preaching, teaching and community building.
I value my quiet time and enjoy the time to prepare and study.
Unfortunately I find that “introvert” has become overused and misused. Introverts do not shun people work and extroverts do not excel simply by their preferences. We will do much better when we can look at the totality of our gifts, our experiences and even how well we work at the various skills. I have benefitted from Myers-Briggs, but have never felt it fully defines me or anyone.

Robin Nicholls
Joshua Rodriguez-Hobbs

Just a friendly correction, as Sarah is a friend and seminary classmate of mine: she’s a cradle Episcopalian. That comes out at the beginning of the interview: “Sarah Condon: I was raised an Episcopalian, and I was the kid that did everything that they would let me do in the church.”

It looks like Karen Walrond, the author of the post, is the person who was raised Catholic. The first few paragraphs are her own thoughts, not her interview with Sarah. It’s certainly a confusing way to start the piece, and when I read it myself, I did a double-take and thought to myself “Wait a minute, Sarah never mentioned being raised Catholic!” before realizing that that was reflecting Karen’s experience.

James Moore

I have been a Presbyterian minister for 18 years. I’m in the middle of what you might call a life transition. A big part of that is weighing and considering ordination in the Episcopal Church. So I can relate to the author’s thoughts about being a priest.

I also definitely resonate with her being an introvert. On the Myers-Briggs scale, I am an INTJ–with the “I” deep into that field! Being a pastor has really forced me to stretch myself. Like Rev. Condon, I feel drained after being around a lot of people, especially if it’s a large group. I wonder where Jesus would land on the Myers-Briggs inventory? 🙂

Rod Gillis

@ James Moore, interesting post; but, you might want to do some critical research on the Myers-Briggs thing. I was once a believer in MB; but it appears to be largely hokum. Just sayin.

Here is a funny article, one of many, about MB.

Rod Gillis

@ James Moore , ‘Still, I have taken the inventory in various forms over the years, and I’ve always had the same result.”

Perhaps a kind of placebo effect? It is not uncommon for people to act out a role assigned to them by someone or something that one believes is authoritative. It’s not that difficult to complete the test to get an outcome one believes is the correct one. The test is lauded by by Jungian true believers and Clinical Pastoral Education Types.

However, I think its pretty much pseudo-science. When people tell me they are a “J” or something based on MB, I usually respond by telling them that Jesus was a Capricorn. If the thing helps you reflect on who you think you are, or might like to be, nothing really wrong with that; but personal experience does not make the test valid. The bigger concern is when students, theological students for example, lean on MB results to shut out performance evaluation feed back and miss the opportunity for true growth and development.

James Moore

@Rod, I see your point. I don’t put a great deal of faith in any single personality instrument. There are too many variables present in a machine as complex as the human brain. Still, I have taken the inventory in various forms over the years, and I’ve always had the same result. Maybe I’m peculiar that way!

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