Ephesians 4:11-13 – “And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (NASB)
The word the Apostle Paul uses for the equipping of the saints is kartartismon, a word used in surgery for setting a broken limb or for putting a joint back into its place (The New Study Bible, Barclay). God has equipped different believers to help people take what is broken and out of alignment with Jesus and bring healing and restoration. It’s a great word picture for discipleship. There are many people participating in surgery and then there are many people participating in rehabilitation. Every part is important to someone making a full recovery and being able to function in a healthy manner again.
If someone were to try to perform several roles at once, they would get overwhelmed, tired, and things would take twice as long and fewer people would be helped. One of the challenges that arises in the church are people trying to mold everyone around them into their gifting. It’s natural to them, and they are passionate about it, so they think everyone should function the same. Or, the church is looking to the pastor to operate as an apostle, prophet, evangelist, and teacher instead of building a complimentary team. Alan Hirsch defines these gifts for today in this way – Apostle : profoundly interested in the ongoing integrity of the core ideas (DNA, organizational principles, or meta-ideas) that generate and maintain systemic health across the organization. Evangelist: proclaimer of the good news. The all-important recruiter to the cause, the naturally infectious person able to enlist people. Prophet: passionately concerned with living a life morally consistent with the covenant. Pastor: encouraging people in the faith and ensuring the welfare of their spiritual growth. Teacher: concerned with helping people gain insight into how God wants them to see and experience their world.
It’s easy to compare and compete and grow discontented in how God has fearfully and wonderfully made us. Part of maturing is being self-aware and seeking to operate from our base gifts, learning what to say no to and what to pour ourselves into. This is when we come fully alive because we are functioning in alignment with how God has designed us to be.