1 Corinthians 12 teaches that within any group of Christians different people will have different roles/things they are good at. From Ephesians 4:7, 11-13 we can see that each Christian is given one of five roles: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher:
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it....
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's 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.
Apostle: The word means one who is ‘sent out’. They are missionaries. Apostolic people have big ideas for new things, love change and love to start new things. They are entrepreneurs.
Prophet: Prophets hear and listen to God. They often stand back see clearly the big picture of what is really going on with regards to motivations, tensions, emotions and underlying issues. They enjoy spending time with God. They are often creative.
Evangelist: Evangelists bring good news. They love getting out and meeting new people, especially non Christians. They can talk to anyone and before long the conversations include talking about Jesus. They are attracted to careers such as sales, public relations or politics.
Pastor: Pastors care for people. They bring comfort and encouragement. They tend to spend more time with Christians. They have empathy, are good listeners and often enjoy displaying hospitality. They are attracted to careers in caring professions.
Teacher: Teachers get excited about helping people understand the truth of the bible. They look for different ways to explain and apply it. They enjoy reading and studying the bible and other books on the spiritual life. They are attracted to teaching or training roles.
Preparing God’s people for works of service.
When the church is working well, people with each role help others in the church to do aspects of what they are good at.
Some ways to help you discover your role:
- Not everybody is an apostle but everyone is called to be involved in new things and apostles help people do that.
- Not everybody is a prophet but everybody is called to hear the voice of Jesus and prophets help people do that.
- Not everyone is an evangelist but we are all called to witness and evangelists help people do that.
- Not everyone is a pastor but everyone is called to care and pastors help people do that.
- Not everyone is a teacher but everyone is called to understand the truth and teachers help people do that.
Try different activities, reflect on what you do well, ask other people for what they think, or do a survey. Don’t worry if it takes a while to become clear about your role because at different stages of life God may take us through ‘phases’ of being more apostolic, pastoral, etc. Going through these phases helps grow our appreciation for people who are different to us and brings maturity to the way we operate out of our base roles.