I’ve never been big into titles for two reasons: #1 I’ve seen the power that comes with a title abused and #2 I want to fight against pride in myself. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized there’s ignorance in some of my thinking around titles; when handled correctly, titles can be used to bestow honor or to encourage a gift or calling. Of course titles and their honor can be abused, but they can also be incredibly life giving.
It’s not unusual for me to assign titles to people after I get to know them. For example, one of my best friends has a unique gift in leading others, he is a pastor’s pastor. So I call him “Bishop”. Some think it’s a joke or that I’m just being kind, but for me, it’s a prophetic declaration over his life. In the same way, I take being called ‘Pastor’ very seriously. The weight and responsibility of being called to that office isn’t lost on me. It’s a sobering reminder of who I am called to be.
Over the last two or three years, several individuals have shared that they’ve seen an apostolic gifting in me. The first time someone told me that I felt both nauseated and confused at the same time. It resonated with my spirit and made me nervous, but I didn’t really know what that meant. And to be honest with you, I never really studied it in depth until I started preparing to write this post. Even writing this post makes me nervous because my ‘people-pleasing’ side wants me to care about what others will think. I care if certain people see this gift in me or not. But I’ve learned that when God marks you it doesn’t really matter what people think.
(Listen, I just had CHURCH all by myself on that one right there!)
There is a lot of debate about the office of the apostle versus the gift of apostleship. For the sake of today’s post, I am going to focus on the gift of apostleship (so no, I don’t want to be called Apostle Briana DuPree.) My reason for focusing on the latter rather than the former is found in Peter’s definition of an Apostle when they’re looking to replace Judas in Acts 1:
“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when He was taken up from us – one of these men must become with us a witness to His resurrection.”
So the office of the apostle seems to be for those who walked with Jesus and witnessed His resurrection. Let’s look at the gift of apostleship that Paul mentions it in the list of gifts that edify the Church:
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-31
Apostle means someone or something who is sent. “The mission for those with the gift of apostleship today is to plant new ministries and churches, go into places where the Gospel is not preached, reach across cultures to establish churches in challenging environments, raise up and develop leaders, call out and lead pastors and shepherds, and much more. They often have many different gifts that allow them to fulfill their ministry. These are leaders of leaders and ministers of ministers. They are influencers. They are typically entrepreneurial and are able to take risks and perform difficult tasks. Missionaries, church planters, certain Christian scholars and institutional leaders, and those leading multiple ministries or churches often have the gift of apostleship.” (https://spiritualgiftstest.com/spiritual-gift-apostleship/)
This definition is daunting, terrifying, and intimidating. However the parts of the definition that I resonate with the mosts are:
- Raise up and develop leaders
- Being an influencer
- Being entrepreneurial
In whatever context I get to serve, I always find myself in positions of influence with up and coming leaders; practically that plays out in my discipleship relationships and getting to speak into various leadership groups in my circles. My entrepreneurial side often kicks in with some of my ‘behind the scenes’ projects.
And this is what I’ve realized: God will place you in situations that promote the stewardship of your gift before you will ever see the full development of your gift.
You may not have the title or the opportunity, but that doesn’t mean that God is not stirring up that gift on the inside of you! If God marks you – it’s for you!