Preach a convicting sermon. Mingle with little old ladies. Shake a few hands. Soak up all that attention and love every minute of it. Rinse and repeat every week. That’s the stereotypical life of a Midwest pastor.
Devin Wendt, senior pastor at Crestview Christian Church in Manhattan, spends his Sunday mornings doing what most pastors are expected to do. What sets Wendt apart from the majority of outgoing, people-persons, who take the spotlight on Sunday morning, is his struggle with having an introverted personality – something that is rare in a profession centered on being outgoing and building relationships.
Wendt would much rather talk to a crowd of 500 people than to have to mingle in a crowd of the same size.
“The getting out with people, I have to force myself to do it,” Wendt said. “I like people, but I just don’t do it the way I should. I would rather come to work and shut my door.”
Because the ministry requires relationship building, Wendt has learned how to, in some ways, become a people-person.
“Necessity, I just have to… necessity forces it,” Wendt said. “Genuinely, down deep I really do like people, it’s just the way I go about it.”
Preaching, not teaching, is what Wendt loves to do. Preparing a thought out 25-30 minute sermon with answers to life’s questions is what comes naturally to him. Wendt said he admits to spending a majority of his time throughout the week on sermon prep, which usually involves a lot of solitude and thinking.
Terry Holdren, a friend to Wendt, member of the Crestview congregation and Manhattan resident, said he would admit to seeing his friend wear down from a Sunday morning full of mingling, while also giving kudos to his ministry style.
“You see Devin doing things that others don’t,” Holdren said. “You get a different output from him than maybe you would an extrovert … He is more thorough and scholarly. He certainly puts in a lot of time and effort.”
Natalie Holdren, co-worker and youth pastor at Crestview, said Wendt has no problem with sharing the spotlight with the rest of his staff. He does what he needs to do to lead, but he can step back and support when necessary.
“If there’s weakness in being an introvert, he does a good job of finding how to not allow that to drive the ministry,” Natalie Holdren said.
Outside of the office however, Wendt flourishes in his relationships as a husband to wife, April, and father to two daughters, Emma, 12, and Ruby, 7. Learning how to be successful in ministry as a family, has required honesty with self, intentionality and rest for the Wendt’s.
“Devin is very good at protecting his day off,” Natalie Holdren said. “You will hardly ever see him making an appointment or meeting on his day off.”
Although relationships and people management may not come easily for Wendt outside of the home, he has a deep passion for the church that he credits to his time studying at Manhattan Christian College.
“He is concerned about the health of the church mostly,” April Wendt said. “Although there is lots of things to be concerned about, he likes the relationships and the organization to be healthy.”
“There’s been a movement lately and it talks about introverts,” Wendt said. “What they are and what you can do as an introvert and still be successful and still make a difference in the world. I have gained confidence in my introverted tendencies. Most importantly I have learned to rest. This is a longer journey, not a sprint. I would rather finish the long race than end it too soon.”