Yesterday I read How to Accomplish More by Doing Less and my mind wandered about this topic. I thought about the idea of taking breaks at work and how funny it seems for me as an introvert that someone would need to tell someone to take a break. For an introvert, taking a break isn’t a luxury. It’s self-preservation.
When I was teaching elementary school, there was a strong emphasis put on the fact that planning time was PLANNING time, not personal time. So planning time was not to be used to make a personal phone call, read a book, etc. As an introvert that always rubbed me the wrong way. Why? Because the best thing I could do with my planning time was take care of myself by escaping into a book for ten or fifteen minutes. After being with students for a number of hours, the best way to ensure that I could keep doing a good job the rest of the day was to do something for myself. Unfortunately schools don’t necessarily see it that way. You are on the school’s dime so you better be working.
This morning I was thinking about mission trips. I never went on a mission trip. When I was younger they weren’t the big thing to do. Almost no one went on international travel for just a week to “do” missions. And even if I had the opportunity to do it now, I wouldn’t go. I know myself too well to put myself into that kind of situation. I remember when I went to Urbana as an InterVarsity staff member. Me and I don’t know how many thousands and thousands of students, staff, and missionaries descended the on the University of Illinois for a week-long conference about missions. Surrounded by hundreds and thousands of people day in and day out where you are supposed to network, be friendly, participate, worship, interact, etc., I was beyond emotionally and mentally (and physically) exhausted by the end of the week.
It would be interesting to know how well introverts do on mission trips. I can imagine it would go something like this…
Day 1 – Arrive wherever we are going physically exhausted and tired of being around people
Day 2 – Throw myself into whatever we are doing and push myself to be fully engaged because that is what I am there for
Day 3 – Wake up feeling slightly depressed at the thought of another day of being on all day with a group of people but drag myself out of bed and try to put on a happy face and good attitude so I don’t impact the group. By mid-day, feel the complete crash coming on. Go to bed dreading the next day.
Day 4 – Wake up depressed, overwhelmed and willing to do almost anything to get time alone. Serious homesickness sets in and I start mentally counting the hours until I am home.
Day 5, 6 and 7 – Complete self-preservation mode, trying to get through one hour at at time without dragging down the rest of the group. Going through the motions of what I am there to do, but not really ministering because I have nothing to give as I am completely depleted myself.