‘APEST’—shorthand for apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers—proposes that human beings bear the image, or likeness, of God in a combination of five ways; and that, collectively, these give expression to five functions of human community, culture or society. These might be described as:
the impulse to innovate, to explore, to push (beyond) boundaries, to create and populate new ‘worlds’…
the impulse to agitate, to reform, to call into question, to oppose injustice, to paint alternative futures…
the impulse to connect, to recruit to a cause, to tell stories, to share news…
the impulse to care, to attend to well-being, to pursue communal health…
the impulse to instruction, to gather and systematise knowledge and wisdom and pass this on to the next generation.
The APEST profile is a personality profiling tool that measures the relative weighting of these five aspects, and considers how they interact; and, by extension, how we might interact with other people.
Profiling tools give a snapshot of a moment in time, and current circumstances have their own impact. Nonetheless, regular profiling over time is likely to establish a more stable profile. My own profile is (most often) PATSE.
Our primary impulse is the ‘lens’ through which we see the world. Just as we don’t see our contact lenses or the lenses of our glasses, but see everything else through them, we do not ‘see’ our primary impulse—and the primary impulse as identified by profiling often comes as a surprise to the individual concerned. My primary impulse is prophetic. I see things from an angle or perspective that many people experience as different from their own, and yet find insightful, creative in a way that is simultaneously encouraging and challenging. I am a disturber of the status quo, a painter of alternative futures. This comes naturally to me.
Our secondary impulse is the one that ‘gives voice to’ our primary impulse. My secondary impulse is apostolic. This impulse is concerned with movement, with innovation, with change. I get ‘itchy feet’ on a regular basis, and especially where I find myself in communities that are resistant to change, or are rightly stable; I respond positively to new opportunities or challenges, but prefer to establish something new and hand it on than to maintain something that is already established (whether by someone else or by me). Though this is my second greatest impulse, it is much less developed than either my third or fourth impulses. This is in part because the church values and invests in and gives opportunity for teaching and shepherding (pastoral care), and in part because most of the apostolic role-models I have known are very extrovert whereas I am very introvert, and their approach does not sit well with me. However, this means that the impulse with which I ‘speak’ is under-developed, and lacks maturity: ‘You need to move! You need to change! ... Why aren’t you changing?’ It can lead to a cycle of frustration, for me and for those around me. I need to identify those who can help me to invest-in and develop my secondary impulse.
My tertiary impulse is teaching. However, this facet of being-human-made-in-the-likeness-of-God is well-developed in me, partly because the church has tended to place a higher emphasis on teaching and pastoral care and so I have had considerable opportunity for training to teach and for exercising a teaching role. Many people would consider me to be a teacher, but it is not my primary or even secondary impulse. It is, on balance, more life-draining than life-giving to me; and, in-and-of-itself, not necessarily the best way that I can serve others.
For me, the impulse to care, and to recruit, are much less prominent. This does not mean that I do not care about people (I do, and deeply; but in short time-spans), or that I cannot communicate passionately about things that engage me (such as APEST, or my running club); simply that these are less instinctive to me, relative to the others. And that is okay, but requires that I work with others towards communal regeneration and well-being.
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