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.
- Shepherds (or pastors)
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…”
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.
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.
Several options emerged ranging from staff roles in local churches, denominational positions, and a leadership role with a church planting organization.
- Is this a future oriented role, or more maintenance?
- Will I have gifted people to oversee the operational and micro details so that I can keep an eye on big picture goals?
- Will there be sufficient latitude to pivot toward emerging opportunities and take new territory?
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.