I wanted to learn about the five-fold ministry, especially where and how women find themselves in those roles. I asked around, observed a lot, and drew some conclusions. I took a five-fold ministry test, which told me my strengths and weaknesses. I made my own little questionnaire for some friends, to help understand some of our differences. And I studied the meanings of these five words.
My great hope and dream is that we as women in the body of Christ can recognize, appreciate and complement our gifts. You know what I love to see? I love to see two women in authentic friendship and fellowship, who might not naturally get along so well but have figured out that none of us is completely balanced on our own. We need each other. I think God in heaven loves to see it too.
Teacher: One who holds forth the truth and is excited by it (didaskalos). The teacher looks for ways to explain, enlighten, and apply truth.
If you’re Anabaptist like me, you might have a hard time picturing what a female teacher looks like in the church. Teachers don’t have to be at the front of the class or church. They’re the ones who like to share relevant information. Sometimes I think of them as “explainers.” They like to explain their reasons for doing something, explain how stuff works, they’re quick to share a helpful hint whether it’s in gardening, homeschooling, or a spiritual truth they’re walking out. I think they’re usually pretty practical, and their spiritual truths get channeled into real life, where it matters.
Today I was in a group chat and my sister-in-law sent a picture of her cute little girl, who had just mastered the art of putting a ponytail in her own hair. After a few aww’s and remember when’s, the teacher in the group said, “[My teenage daughter] looks back at pictures and is horrified how she looked sometimes, but she thanks me for giving her independence. Freedom is something we all crave deeply, and were meant to have.” That last sentence is a full-on teaching and I thought we were talking about little girls doing ponytails. 🙂
Evangelist: One who brings good news and shares the message readily (euanggelistes).
Evangelists love spending time with non-Christians and are motivated by a strong desire to see people enter the kingdom of heaven. They love sharing the Gospel, and I also think they just love to share good news. They gather people easily; they’re great recruiters. They bring people to a point of decision. It’s hard to stay neutral around an evangelist. I have a friend who always has several non-Christian friends she is praying for and inviting into her home, and she is always looking for that moment when the Holy Spirit directs her to ask them, “Do you want to surrender your life to Jesus?”
On a less spiritual note, there’s this supplement called Plexus. Some people take it and have great results. They might even become ambassadors to get their products at a discount, but you’ll never know. Then there are evangelists, who wouldn’t dream of keeping quiet about these wonderful, life-changing products! They tell everybody they know, they post on social media and they stand on the streets and give away samples. They found something wonderful– you should find it too.
Pastor: One who shepherds God’s people (poimen), who cares for others with a tender heart. One who sees needs, provides comfort, and encourages others.
I must admit, I tried for years to be a pastor because that’s who I thought I should be: gentle, kind, compassionate, empathetic. I thought that’s how all Christians should be, until I ironed out these five folds. Pastors are the ones who will take you out for coffee, just to talk. They want to know how you’re doing, not why you’re doing like the teacher might. They’re good listeners, and easy to talk to and cry to, even. They need a good plan in place to keep them from people-pleasing. A good plan, such as being close friends with a prophet.
I have several wonderful friends who are pastors, in the sense that they pastor the people around them. I’ll give a few quotes that stand out. “I want to get to know you better and hear more of your story.” “Come over for coffee and let’s talk about our marriages.” Every time I’m leaving her presence, one friend says, “We should get together next week!” To be very honest, hearing these things can make me uncomfortable at first, but I’m learning to just relax and embrace that vulnerability and intimacy that pastors thrive in.
Prophet: One who hears and listens to God (prophetes); the prophet foretells and tells forth revelation from God. Often they are able to stand back from circumstances to get a clear picture of what is happening and therefore see creative solutions and develop a vision for situations others don’t see.
A prophet is usually asking, “Are the people of God hearing His voice and responding appropriately?” They have a strong sense of justice, and want to make sure Jesus is getting everything He died for. They might have powerful opinions that come from a keen sense of the spiritual world, even though they see in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. When mature prophets see the gold in someone or something, they will cut through the rubbish and draw it out. I think they often do this through words.
Several months ago, God healed my knee of arthritis. I was so surprised awhile later when it started hurting again, and I took it to my prophet friend. “You need to repent of your unbelief!” were the first words I heard. The prophet saw a big picture: that my sin of unbelief was hindering God from being glorified. The funny thing is, when I told my pastor friend what my prophet friend had said, the pastor’s first reaction was, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Maybe it hurts momentarily to hear the truth, but that word of pruning has brought forth much, much fruit in my life. I’m not sorry at all.
Apostle: From the Greek apostolos meaning “one who is sent out.”
Apostles are visionaries, missionaries, pioneers, entrepreneurs and explorers. They’re willing to take great risks, push into new territory and love a challenge that will bring about change. They have a big picture perspective, thinking in terms of generations and epochs and eternity; small details might feel like clutter. An immature apostle will have big dreams and visions, and may start lots of new projects, but not have the stamina or discipline to finish any of them. Ask me how I know! 🙂
When it’s time to clean my house, I’m usually reminded that I’m an apostle. Because I think in big, sweeping moves, I think I have to clean it all at once, and I have to clean it all thoroughly. It gets overwhelming very fast, even with just two rooms to clean. It’s hard to break it down into manageable bites that can be started and finished quickly. I’m not sure that this makes any sense unless you’re like me, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Here’s the link, in case you’d like to take the survey I did. http://fivefoldsurvey.com And here’s a screen shot of my results, just in case you’re interested. I’d love to know yours!