In the last year of my schooling, the boys in our class received what was known as an army call up. At that time, it was compulsory for every male who reached a certain age to serve his country for a few years of national service. It amazed me how young scrawny little boys could leave high school, go to the army and come out of it looking totally different!
Where they were small and insignificant before, they came back taller, stronger and even their characters were different. They may have left school as little boys, but they returned as men. They went through a transformation.
This very transformation is what the apostle will face time and time again during the preparation and training for his calling. The apostle is one who begins as a Private in the army and is made to work his way up the ranks to take his place as a General. He will see his own share of scrubbing and hard work and he will get to revel in the glory of public appearance.
However, there is one thing that the apostle will carry with him always and that is the knowledge that without the agency of the Holy Spirit he is nothing. Without the seal of the Father he is unnamed and without the love of the Lord Jesus he is powerless.
If you can see yourself in this picture then you are well on your way through preparation for the apostolic calling on your life. The road that you have been walking as an apostle in preparation has been a time of letting go and of death. This preparation is for the purpose of bringing you to a point of humility, but also to a place of Holy Spirit power. So join me now as I begin pointing out the characteristics of the apostle practically for you and then on to how you can identify the apostolic calling on your own life.
1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
The apostle is a spiritual entrepreneur. You can easily identify business entrepreneurship in the world because entrepreneurs are always coming up with these new dazzling ideas. An apostle is the same, but he is a spiritual entrepreneur. He always has new ideas. He is always coming up with a new concept. They may not all work, but it never stops him from trying again. And again. And again. Until he succeeds!
This is probably one lesson we lived the most in the early days of our ministry (Apostolic Movement International). For those who were with us at the very beginning, they will recall the many changes that we went through. We came up with some
crazy ideas at times. Some worked, some did not. Each time we tried something new, a pattern began to take shape. Later along the journey, ideas that failed in the past were resurrected with a new element and usually on a grander scale.
There is always something happening on the horizon in the life of an apostle. Just when I was finally reached the goal I would say, "You know what? I was thinking about this new revelation that the Lord has given me. I think we need to go for this idea. I think we need to add something more.” Or, even worse...”We are scrapping the whole program and we're starting again! I've got a new direction."
All Things to All Men
1 Corinthians 9:20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;
21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;
22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
The apostle can do all the tasks in the ministry. He is able to step in and take the place of anybody. If somebody is missing, the apostle is there to fill that space.
The apostle functions in both the internal and the external anointing. He is able to flow with all the gifts of revelation. He can flow from the internal anointing, but when it comes to praying he can also flow in the external, in the signs and wonders and power gifts. (I recommend The Prophetic Anointing for more on the internal and external anointing.)
The apostle is also able to function in all the temperaments. You cannot cement him into a specific temperament. One minute he is explosive and expressive, and the next minute he is austere and unemotional. An apostle can be all four of the temperaments or a mixture thereof.
And so if the apostle is an expressive the Lord will take away his emotion. I’m an expressive by nature and I thrive on emotion. Expressives cannot get up in the morning if there is no emotion. We don't feel like it. We can't do anything without emotion. So you will often hear an expressive say, "But Lord, I don't feel like it."
He says, "Tough, I'm trying to swing you to the opposite temperament. Learn to do without your emotions!"
Or you get the analytical that is totally unemotional and is logical and does things in order. And so, for them, “this is the way things are” and ‘this is the way things go’. We have step one, step two, step three. And so the Lord will walk into the life of an analytical and just scramble it to mess with him.
The Lord will say, "Stop relying on your mind. Let's see some emotion there, please," and swing him to the total opposite side.
Then we get the amiable who is a nice guy. He is the nice guy that everybody wants to be around because he is always so helpful and he is always so friendly. He is always trying to make you feel comfortable. But he doesn't like to confront or cause a fuss. When there is a confrontation, he is the guy who will back down.
To this apostle in preparation the Lord will say, "I'm tired of you being so nice all the time. For goodness sakes, get some fire in you and become a driver!"
He will start putting an amiable in confrontation situations where he is forced to confront, where he is forced to change. It is a very painful thing for an amiable when he is used to being so nice all the time.
Or on the other end of the pendulum the Lord will take the driver who usually just pushes his way through every difficult situation. Someone with a driver temperament says, "If I have a brick wall in front of me I'm going to just bash and bash and bash until I get through." No matter who gets in his way, he will push past them to succeed. They make the toughest bosses! They insist on perfection and expect everyone else to have the same drive as them.
To such an apostle in preparation the Lord says, "You need to learn to be nice to people."
He will then put the driver in a situation where, bash as much as he may, nothing is happening. He will be put in a job or be made a pastor, and the Lord will say, "Now you have to be nice to people. You have to listen to their problems and care about them for a change."
So if you have been going through some of these things, it is called apostolic preparation.
Not only does the apostle have to learn how to change in his character but he has also had experience in various doctrines, denominations and walks of life. He is somebody else who knows everything about everything. He can tell you about the various denominations and walks of life. He has had exposure to the other fivefold ministries as well as the heresies in the Church.
He knows something about everything and if asked a question will always have answers. It will not be because he is more intelligent than most, but simply because he has been made to live more than most! No amount of head knowledge can give you this kind of training. Only by living on the road set up by the Holy Spirit, will the apostle come to this place of completion.
The apostle is not complacent to just stay in the same place. An apostle never stops growing. He is not complacent to say, "I've arrived. I'm the great apostle. I'm upon my throne and seated, and I have this established ministry."
No! The apostle is too busy jumping ahead to get complacent. There are new territories, there are new horizons. There are new visions and ideas and new goals. There is always something higher and better and greater. And of course with the Holy Spirit, He never runs out of ideas.
The apostle is always growing and moving and expanding. He is never satisfied. It doesn't matter how big he gets, it doesn't matter how much he expands. He wants more. He wants to go deeper. He wants to go further.
The day I stop growing, put me in a box and bury me, because that is the day I die. Because when I stop learning and growing, then I stop living!
On the Cutting Edge
The apostle always wants to be on the cutting edge of what God is doing. He is always listening, straining in the Spirit to hear when the next step is, and he is there taking it. When the Lord starts moving the body of Christ he is there before anybody else is. He has heard, he has seen, and usually he is the one who is releasing it.
He takes responsibility on his own shoulders. You don't have to tell an apostle that he has a job to do. He automatically steps in and takes on the responsibility. If there is something that needs to be done, he does it. If there is something that needs to be organized, he organizes it. When something goes wrong, he is the person who steps forward and says, "I am responsible." So if you are headed for the apostolic and you are waiting around for somebody else to do the job, forget it. You are the ‘buck’. It stops right by you.
So a lot of the preparation that you will face as an apostle is learning to be a leader. You will learn soon enough that a Leader not only takes responsibility for his own actions, but also take responsibility for the actions of others.
The apostle does not wait around for others to tell him what to do, but goes ahead. He doesn't sit around waiting to hear a mighty thundering voice from heaven before he takes a step. He is always in face to face communion with the Lord and he is running ahead of the rest and setting a trend.
As a result, people want to be like the apostle. They cannot help themselves. People look at an apostle and they are drawn to him.
They say, "Now that's what I want to be like!"
They can't help themselves. He is the kind of leader who stands out and motivates others just by who he is.
He not only has the ability to lead but shows others how to lead. Leadership comes naturally to an apostle. He may not have started out that way, but the end picture of what an apostle looks like is that he has the ability to lead. When he stands up and walks, people follow him. He is the kind of person who, if you are standing mulling around in a group, as he steps into the room, everybody notices him.
Air of Authority
The apostle carries an air of authority around him. He doesn't have to say anything, and he doesn't even necessarily have to do anything. As he walks in, you notice him. Not even by the way he looks, but just by the presence of God around him and the authority in which he stands. There is something about him that just draws you. You want to know more about this person. You want to get to where he is and ask a few questions and
find out what he has.
He is the kind of person that, if a whole big group goes to a restaurant, the waiter is just somehow drawn to him to make the decisions. Even in the world people will identify the leadership in an apostle, because he carries an air of authority that people want to listen to. When he speaks, things get done! He doesn't have to rant and rave and scream and shout.
When he speaks he speaks with an air of authority that makes people stop and think, "You know what? I should listen to this guy." Did not the soldiers say of Jesus, “never a man spoke as this man?” again and again you will see how Jesus walked with that kind of authority that even the vilest of sinners could identify and be convicted by.
Face to Face Relationship With God
The apostle has had a personal encounter and experience with the Lord Jesus, because it is the Lord Jesus who releases the apostle into the body of Christ. They have had a personal revelation of the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus. They know the trinity in His fullness. They know how to function in the fullness of the trinity. They know the holiness and fear of the Father, they know the power of the Spirit, and they also know the love and compassion of the Lord Jesus. They are mature in the fullness in their spiritual knowledge of the Lord.
As a result, the apostle has a solid image of who he is in Christ, and he reflects that image to others. The apostle reflects Christ. When you meet the apostle you know the Lord is with you. You know He is there listening in on that conversation. There is something about him that just draws you, and you know that he is representing Christ. He has that image.
Lays His Own Foundation
The apostle has his own commandment or mandate from God. He cannot call himself an apostle if he is still sitting as a member in the local church. It is not going to happen. It cannot happen, because how could he possibly build a foundation on somebody else’s ministry?
Often people want to say of the apostle who is still in the throes of preparation, "Well he's a rebel. He's out of order!"
No. He's just an apostle.
You say, "Well why does he have to leave the church?"
Well where else is he going to build? Where have you seen a bricklayer go into a home and start digging up the floors and saying, "You know what? This house would look better if it had a couple of changes. I'm going to build my house inside this house, and let's see how it comes out."
He would be mad. He has to go and get his own piece of land and build his own house and his own foundation.
An apostle has set up an infrastructure for others to follow. The apostle doesn't just give lip service. He doesn't just tell you how to do things. He doesn't just say, "This is right and this is wrong." He actually gives you something to work with. He gives you the tools. He builds the building and he says, "Okay, now this is how you function."
Has His Own Mandate
The apostle has his own mandate and his own pattern, and he may get some of that from various different sources just like the builder gets the mortar and the bricks, sand and everything else from different sources. However, when he puts it together it is his house. It looks like something he designed and he constructed. It doesn't look like anyone else’s building. It is unique. The apostles are not going to build the same kinds of houses. They are not all going to look the same. Some of them are going to be brick. Some of them are going to be wood. Some of them will be stone.
So you would see a rebel who sticks out like a sore thumb, that does everything different. He has this wayward idea of building something that just looks nothing like anybody else has built. You will know that he is an apostle. You see the entrepreneurial qualities of him always wanting to go out and do things differently with new ideas, new concepts.
They know why they are called, they know where they are called to, and they know how to get there (Well at the beginning they think they know how to get there and face a bit of humbling first, that is why they need that phase called Apostolic Training!).
Your Apostolic Calling
Has the Lord told you that He has called you to be an apostle? Have you received an inner conviction of that calling? Then you are well on your way to begin walking this road of apostolic preparation.
Perhaps you have looked at these points I have listed so far and in comparing yourself you might say, "I'm not even close to being an apostle!" If so, then you are right where God wants you to be. For that is what makes the apostle set apart. It is not about you. It is not your ability. It is not your strengths and your great leadership skills. It is about His image. It is what He will take you through and birth in you and make out of you.
You can be nothing right now and you can look at yourself and think, "Oh Lord, I'm too ashamed to even admit that I may have been called to be an apostle." However only when you can come to that place of realization, does the real work begin.
Jesus said to the Pharisees: John 9:39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remains.
Because they thought they had arrived and could see, how blind they truly were! If only they would admit that they were weak and blind and a failure, because then the Lord could have done something with them. If you say to yourself, “I am an apostle, and I have arrived and I am all I should be.” Then how blind you are and the Lord cannot shape you.
You would be as a hard piece of clay that would crumble in the hand of the master. What potter would use such dry and hard clay?
However, if you said to the Lord, “Lord I am weak. I look nothing like an apostle and I am afraid that I will fail you,” then the Lord can do something with you. You are clay that is wet and soft. The Lord will then bring His hand on you to shape and to mold you.
So where do you stand today? Are you blind or do you see? Are you willing to admit that you need the hand of the master upon you?
Have you picked up this article out of curiosity? Have you picked it up to try and prove your apostleship? Or have you picked it up to gain God’s direction for your life? The choice you make is what will allow the Holy Spirit even now to come upon you and to change you. It is up to you whether you will be a dry and brittle piece of clay or a soft and malleable piece of clay.
If you are soft and weak then the Lord is going to take you and He is going to form you into His image. When He has finished, you will look like this picture that I have painted for you.
Jesus is the one who will do the work. Right now you may just be an unrecognizable lump of clay, but when you are finished you will stand reflecting Jesus Christ in deed and in authority! Can you see the end goal? Can you see the image and the picture? Now God has something to work with and He can take you there!