The man in the mirror…it all starts here (Part 3)


My last post told the story of how I began to more successfully navigating some rough patches in college once I came to know myself better. While studying in England I finally took a good, long look in the mirror and got honest about what I saw. And that moment of truth, that willingness to humble myself and admit some of my mistakes and shortcomings, was the turning point on many levels.

You may think that knowing yourself to lead yourself is only an issue for young people. It stands to reason that after someone becomes a functioning adult they can move on to bigger and better things! Right? However, my experience as a leadership coach over the past 15 years has convinced me that people of all ages and from all walks of life continue to undermine themselves due to a lack of self-awareness. To put it another way, they don’t lead themselves well because they don’t understand what really makes them tick. If we remain in the dark about what gives us energy, how we best learn, how we can make good decisions, and how we naturally desire to organize our lives, we stay disconnected from ourselves. And, if we don’t connect well with those things inside of us that truly make us who we are then we will struggle to connect deeply with other people, also.

What are those things for a Christian leader?

  • Identity (who you believe yourself to be at your core)
  • Nurture (the role models, upbringing, and defining experiences that comprise the “oughts” and “shoulds” of your inner voice; I use the Life Map tool for this – email me for the .pdf)
  • Personality (my two favorite assessments to reveal personality are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the 5 Voices)
  • Personal choice (our decisions have shaped us and different decisions will create a different future)
  • EQ or Emotional Intelligence (personal and social competence)
  • Spiritual gifts (Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12)
  • APEST (Ephesians 4)

Let’s tackle APEST now and look at personality next time in the final installment of this mini-series.

I was first introduced to APEST around 2002. Actually, I learned about APEST the first time I read the book of Ephesians, but I just didn’t know it! APEST is taken from Ephesians 4:11 – 13:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Paul identifies 5 distinct offices Christ has given his church (note: these offices are related to spiritual gifts, but I do not believe they are the same thing as spiritual gifts). They are in order:
  1. Apostles
  2. Prophets
  3. Evangelists
  4. Shepherds (or pastors)
  5. Teachers

The purpose for these offices is very clear. Christ gave them to the church “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…”

In The Forgotten Ways Alan Hirsch defines and explores APEST and why it’s so vital for Christian leaders to understand at a deep level. Here are his brief definitions for each:

APOSTLES extend the gospel. As the “sent ones,” they ensure that the faith is transmitted from one context to another and from one generation to the next. They are always thinking about the future, bridging barriers, establishing the church in new contexts, developing leaders, networking trans-locally. Yes, if you focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded. The shepherding and teaching functions are needed to ensure people are cared for rather than simply used.

PROPHETS know God’s will. They are particularly attuned to God and his truth for today. They bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture. They insist that the community obey what God has commanded. They question the status quo. Without the other types of leaders in place, prophets can become belligerent activists or, paradoxically, disengage from the imperfection of reality and become other-worldly.

EVANGELISTS recruit. These infectious communicators of the gospel message recruit others to the cause. They call for a personal response to God’s redemption in Christ, and also draw believers to engage the wider mission, growing the church. Evangelists can be so focused on reaching those outside the church that maturing and strengthening those inside is neglected.

SHEPHERDS nurture and protect. Caregivers of the community, they focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God’s flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples. Shepherds can value stability to the detriment of the mission. They may also foster an unhealthy dependence between the church and themselves.

TEACHERS understand and explain. Communicators of God’s truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God’s will, guiding others toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ’s word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church’s ministry.

OK, so how does knowing your APEST help you to lead yourself more effectively?  Allow me to illustrate from a live situation I find myself in at the moment.

In early 2017 I shifted my focus from strictly the non-profit arena and joined a consulting organization that focused on leadership development in the corporate space.  It seemed like a good fit, but it has not developed in the way I had hoped.  So, this summer it became apparent that I needed to seek out a different opportunity.

Several options emerged ranging from staff roles in local churches, denominational positions, and a leadership role with a church planting organization.

As Sandi and I prayed about these opportunities we ran each through the grid of my APEST.  As you may have guessed, I am strongly apostolic.  Hirsch explains that apostles are big picture, future oriented, spiritual entrepreneurs and strategists.  So, how does knowing this about myself help me navigate my current reality?
In each instance we asked the question, “Does this opportunity allow me to function primarily as an apostle?”  An apostle can function well at the local church, denomination, or network levels.  But to determine apostolic fit I specifically asked:

  1. Is this a future oriented role, or more maintenance?
  2. Will I have gifted people to oversee the operational and micro details so that I can keep an eye on big picture goals?
  3. Will there be sufficient latitude to pivot toward emerging opportunities and take new territory?
APEST will help you understand how you primarily function as a Christian leader – how you can bring your best.  When you better align yourself with the insights you learn from your APEST you will notice more grace flowing, more fruit, less stress, and more energy.  Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Knowing my APEST has been an incredible tool as we have evaluated the various options and has helped us move forward with confidence toward those that fit best.

Next time we will delve into the world of personality – which you may notice often syncs up with your APEST.
***If you would like to talk about walking through a guided EQ Intensive, which covers APEST, personality, Life Mapping, and more, be sure to let me know.***

The man in the mirror…it all starts here (Part 2)

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Is ministry helping or hurting your marriage? Do you need the approval of others? Part 2 of 3

We continue asking an uncomfortable question in this series, “Has ministry helped or hurt your marriage?” Last time we examined this question through the lens of self-reliance.  My assumption (and experience) tells me that self-reliant leaders trying to do God’s work under their own steam are a ticking bomb – one that will eventually implode,… Continue Reading

Is ministry helping or hurting your marriage? Do you need the approval of others? Part 2 of 3

We continue asking an uncomfortable question in this series, “Has ministry helped or hurt your marriage?” Last time we examined this question through the lens of self-reliance.  My assumption (and experience) tells me that self-reliant leaders trying to do God’s work under their own steam are a ticking bomb – one that will eventually implode,… Continue Reading

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