Know Your Role

Just as a snowpocalypse is heading for the Southeast, I’m heading into a new work week. (I take Mondays off.) I want this work week to be apocalyptic. I’m realizing that I let The Mundane have an uncontested victory too many weeks.


What I’m going to do to try and make this week apocalyptic will itself seem ironically mundane. I am going to spend 45 minutes in the morning reviewing my roles and establishing my goals. Sheesh. Even typing that last sentence feels boring.

My biggest takeaway from my most formative personal development book (Stephen Covey’s First Things First) was exactly this. I want to quit floating through my work week looking for the next least-boring thing that I can still justify as ‘work’ to do. I want to move the needle on my life’s work in a significant way by the time the week is out. And so I will sit down with my roles and goals.

Know Your Roles

What are they?

In more-or-less their order of importance, my seven personal roles are:

1. Husband.

2. Father.

3. Pastor-Church Planter.

4. Disciple-Maker.

5. Gospel Neighbor.

6. Community Group Leader.

7. Entrepreneur.

A couple of things to notice:

  • I’m entering a “work week”, but only one of these 7 roles—number 3—is actually my paid vocation. All 7 are my vocations, but only “Pastor-Church Planter” generates income.
  • My callings are life-specific. There may be 5,000 other Americans with the exact same vocational breakdown. That’s not many out of 315,000,000 Americans. Yours is probably different.
  • My callings are overwhelmingly relational. Most people’s probably are too, even if they don’t recognize them as such.
  • Most of my roles don’t immediately suggest obvious key actions that would move the needle in each calling. Most don’t seem to set me up for an apocalyptic week.

Know Your Goals

The only person who can discern what key actions in each of your roles will make for a well-worked work week is you. Ask yourself: “What’s next? What one action in each role, if tackled with zeal and followed through to completion, would enable me to say, at the end of this week, that I was faithful and fruitful across all my callings?”

The answers to this question are your goals for the week. Simple as that.

You will still have all your tasks, which are pressing and urgent. These aren’t your goals themselves. Your goals are the non-urgent, super-important things that will get lost—if you’re not vigilant—among the next-least-boring tasks and the distractions. Commit to these goals.  Schedule them. What block of time are you going to be working on it?


Before you start the next week, sit down with your list of roles and the prior week’s goals. Evaluate yourself ruthlessly, and honestly. What kept you from moving the ball in the way you intended to? Were you faithful? Were you vigilant to schedule your goals and stick to your schedule?


Here’s where the work week gets apocalyptic. Working on the goals in each of your roles reveals what the next goal really ought to be. The apocalyptic boon of charting a clear course is in the fresh view afforded you as you arrive at the end of the charted course.

Adjust. Regroup. Make your goals more realistic, more achievable, more concrete, more measurable. Build on the momentum of what was achieved the prior week. Set aside this 45 minutes at the beginning of every week and make sure the prior week’s work reveals where you really are, and what’s really next.


Look. I’m not speaking as an expert. I’m speaking as a church planter who floats and seeks distractions, who feels too often that his energy is not being channeled into the things that matter most. I post this not to lecture you. Mostly, I post it to keep myself accountable.

I’ll follow up in the days to come with some insights I gain as I actually commit myself to the task of seeking an apocalyptic work week.

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5 thoughts on “Know Your Role

  1. Good Post. I’m always interested in other pastors’ schedules, especially those with a flexible workflow or home office. The pastoral vocation is not 9-5, but it’s not an hour on Sunday, either. I think we’ll be held accountable for our time management. I like how you break out 3-6 as separate categories. It helps to define your role more specifically.

  2. Good thoughts as usual, Andy.

    I would challenge your list slightly; I think you’ll fair better and healthier if you add in two others and put them in this order:

    1. Disciple
    2. Husband
    3. Father
    4. Friend
    5. Pastor
    6. Disciple-maker
    7. Gospel neighbor
    8. Community group leader
    9. Entrepreneur

    Your own discipleship should be self-evident in its importance, and frankly I’m betting you already had that up there, but merely implied. It needs to be more than implied, though.

    Being a friend to those who are your true friends (and not by way of your pastoral or residential circumstances)—folks you will remain friends with long after your circumstances have changed—is a significant obligation, and one that men are often quick to overlook. But it needs to be prioritized, and really (given the changing nature of even pastoral relationships) it is more important than your pastoral ministry, at least relationally-speaking.

    [By the way, Martin Ban in Santa Fe, NM, introduced this kind of list to me, and helped me see the importance of the first five. Full disclosure.]

    • Ed— good points.

      In Stephen Covey’s schema, he suggests identifying a maximum of 7 roles, and besides those adds a separate category for spiritual development. I get your desire to see my personal discipleship at the top of the list. However, you could look at it differently and suggest that, in a sense, it belongs in a totally different category. After all, Jesus says that to follow him and be his disciple, you have to hate everyone and everything by contrast. So, in order to follow Jesus faithfully, you have to both trivialize roles 1-7 by contrast, and, at the same time, your faithfulness in roles 1-7 are the indicators that you’ve absolutized your discipleship to Jesus. This, of course, is not to rebuff your point, but simply to say that, while my personal discipleship should be explicit instead of implicit, it in some ways utterly transcends and eclipses and relativizes 1-7. Discipleship to Jesus, you might say, is “no mere role”, but is absolutely everything.

      As far as your suggestion of putting “friend” in the number 4 slot, it’s an interesting assertion. I suppose I’m not as prepared as you are to make assertions about the definition of a true friend, and how long a friend remains a friend after the contexts of geography and pastoral deployment are eclipsed. One reason “friend” didn’t occur to me as a role (other than the fact that I was trying to limit my list to 7) is that I am trying to integrate the practices of genuine friendship into my most important relationships, especially when they are most ‘natural’. For instance, I consider it part of my role as a husband not to reduce my wife to “wife”, but to pursue her as a friend. Same goes for those I relate to in the context of gospel neighboring, discipleship, community group, and even my pastoral apprentice (who has pretty much become my best friend). On the other hand, I think there’s a very real sense in which my temporal, life-on-life obligations toward people who move away, or away from whom I move (pastorally and geographically) are dramatically lowered. When I say farewell to a close friend and one of us moves away, I ache, and I look forward to catching up. But there’s a sense in which I am releasing them to the sovereignty of Jesus, who governs our kingdom deployments and the locales and contexts (vocationally and geographically) into which we are deployed. When saying “farewell”, I’m trusting that my Christian friends and I will have all the time in the world to cultivate a close friendship in glory, but that locale and calling have very truly separated us for now.

      So, to summarize, discipleship to Jesus goes in a separate category outside of “roles” for me, and “friend” goes into the 7 roles I’ve listed, qualified by my philosophy of the importance of geography and temporality, together with natural affinities and sense of vocational camaraderie.

      Finally, you might be intrigued by Alexaner Nehamas and his philosophy of friendship. I still can’t decide where, why, and how I depart from him. He likens the experience of growing to become friends with growing to find beauty in a work of art. and Also here:

  3. Pingback: The Churched Disciple: The WHY | Gardens Don't Launch

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