Hi! Thanks for coming to join the series! I hope you’ve already read the introduction but if not, HERE it is! Let’s go!
Dear prophetic people, let’s face it… Prophecy is weird. It just is. As much as we want to be “naturally supernatural” prophecy is weird and it always will be. Telling the future, having dreams and visions, sensing the impressions of the Holy Spirit and hearing and declaring the word of the Lord are odd and “out there” things. Fact.
There I said it!
The purpose of this series is to highlight the importance of the gift of prophecy to the Body of Christ, to encourage people who regularly receive revelation from God to share it with us and to help us to receive it. Something I’ve noticed though is that it can be tempting as you aim to grow in the prophetic gift, to take on certain strange behaviours and traits.
Many Christians have had difficult or even painful experiences with prophecy and spiritual gifts in general so when Paul warns the Thessalonians not to despise prophetic utterances, some of us can easily relate. You may have had someone prophesy something to you that never actually happened. You might have had a stranger come up to you in a meeting and do or say something really strange that made you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. You may have been forced into a decision by someone who told you it was God’s will and it turned out to be the wrong decision entirely. I could go on but these are just a few reasons why prophetic ministry is often treated as suspect by individuals, churches and even the world.
Now I’m not advocating some sort of prophetic amnesty where everyone hands in their gift to make sure we’re all safe because in the same breath that Paul tells the people not to despise prophecy, he also tells them not to quench the Spirit. By the way, I do think there is merit in prophetic training and coaching but that’s not my focus for this post.
Anyone wanting to grow and develop in any sort of skill or talent will most likely look for role models to imitate and learn from. When we look into the Bible, we have to admit that a lot of the prophetic role models did and said some really weird things! I’m not saying that we shouldn’t emulate these heroes of the faith but when we look at how dofferent biblical heroes were to one another, I think it’s really important that we each be who God has called us to be.
Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by the call of God on our lives to the point that we don’t believe God could possibly use “little ol’ me” to accomplish His plans so we think we need to be someone else. The call and anointing of God does change us but you should never stop being you! It’s you He wants to use for His glory! Strengths and weaknesses! Warts and all!
In charismatic circles we’ve built an expectation that the Holy Spirit’s ministry always looks really weird and we’ve begun to believe and sometimes even teach this. This of course has bled into our understanding ad expectaton of His gifts including prophecy. Although there is certainly some truth in the extraordinary nature of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, I think it’s important to keep an eye on ourselves to watch that we don’t begin to perform a certain way to try and kickstart or give an appearance of the Holy Spirit’s activity when He’s actually not involved.
I’ve noticed that there are a few stereotypical prophetic personas that some of us imitate that we think might help us but can turn out to be really unhelpful. We may have seen very gifted prophetic people behave like this and so, sometimes unknowingly, we try to copy them. With a little humour thrown in, we’ll take a look at a few but first let me say my goal is not to mock people but to help identify traits in our behaviour and motivation that often don’t help but hold back the Body from receiving the power and blessing of prophetic ministry.
Do check out the Bible verses for the traits and characteristics you relate to and the videos in the Resource section at the end!
(Disclaimer: THEY ARE NOT GENDER-SPECIFIC)
#1 Glassy-Eyed Gal – often powerfully gifted in dreams and visions
Strengths: This is often someone powerfully gifted in receiving visionary revelation from God, capable of bringing deep encouragement, giving insight into the spiritual source of problems and directing strategic prayer.
Common Traits: Glassy-Eyed Gal looks and acts weird, especially in church gatherings. She walks around with an ethereal gaze often accompanied by other odd behaviour. It can be difficult to hold a conversation with her because you’re fighting with angelic beings for her full attention!
Effects: Glassy-Eyed Gal mostly freaks people out. Her aloofness can gather like-minded people around her but others withdraw in confusion because they find it hard to relate.
Potential Heart Problem: Insecurity and the need to maintain a reputation as being spiritual or prophetic.
Remember: Biblical prophets had encounters with God that left them glassy-eyed so this can be legit. Sometimes it seems more spiritual to be so overcome by God that we’re out of control but while God can and does overwhelm us with His power, Paul taught the Corinthians that the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets, enabling them to restrain their urge to prophesy as soon as they received a revelation and so the fruit of self-control remains in our grasp. If we want to share the heart of God, it’s important for us to be relatable so we can communicate what God is saying to others clearly in a relevant way.
Verses to Check Out: 1Corinthians 14:31-33, Ezekiel 3:15, Daniel 7:28
#2 Captain Ominous – often has a strong gift of wisdom
Strengths: This person often has a strong gift of wisdom on their life and they can impart it by discerning the will of God in a situation and sharing it with those involved.
Common Traits: The Captain tries very hard (although he’d never let you know it) to make everything he says sound deep and profound or at least mysterious. He will constantly ask you rhetorical questions “from God”, give you riddles to figure out what God is saying and just generally act like his head is full of heavenly secrets!
Effects: He can put people in awe of him instead of God. Talking to Captain Ominous is like talking to a human horoscope. You can walk away feeling wowed but you’ll probably also be feeling more confused with a million potential interpretations of what he might have meant…
Potential Heart Problem: Insecurity, Pride and the need to be seen as superior to others or be admired by them.
Remember: It’s important that we don’t misrepresent God by being unclear and so sometimes it’s better for us to stay quiet and wait for clarity. The goal of prophetic ministry is to reveal the heart and mind of God and lead people to Him, not ourselves. That’s why He speaks
through us. Just as in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, He’s made us ministers of reconciliation and called us to do the same. Our goal in using the gift of prophecy is to enable people to hear the voice of their Father, not to leave them in awe of our gift.
Verses to Check Out: 2Corinthians 5:18-19, Proverbs 17:27
#3 Long-Sight Lad – often very gifted in prophetic foresight and oversight
Strengths: Often someone with a strong ability to not only see events of the future but also to see God’s blueprints for building the Church and advancing the kingdom.
Common Traits: Long-Sight Lad sees the way things should work and sees future events coming a mile off but is constantly frustrated with the present. He sometimes feels that the calibre of his gift means he should be in charge of…well, something! He will often talk (or just think) about how unrecognised and under-valued he feels and travel between communities and gatherings seeking that validation.
Effects: He can actually spread frustration and discouragement through a church community instead of encouraging hope. Long-Sight Lad doesn’t realise that his need for recognition and influence actually dissuades leaders from trusting him with responsibility because they think he’ll just be looking for the next step “up” and won’t stick around to be faithful to the task.
Potential Heart Problem: Low Self-Worth and Pride
Remember: Low Self-Worth and Pride may seem like a strange pair of heart problems but let me explain. Long-Sight Lad often doesn’t value himself for who he is but rather for what he can do. He draws his sense of identity from his gift and so if his gift is Rejected or ignored, he feels rejected or ignored himself. But when his gift is praised and accepted, he feels praised and accepted himself. Jesus told us to take the lower seat at the table and to learn to wash feet until we love the smell, trusting that God will exalt us at the right time. Don’t serve as a way to be exalted. Serve out of love because that’s the example set by our Servant King on how to be truly great in the kingdom and in the eyes of God. It’s not like the world’s success ladder.
Verses to Check Out: Luke 14:7-11, John 13:3-17, 1Peter 5:5-7
#4 The Angel – often incredibly prophetically gifted all-round
Strengths: This person is often a prophetic superstar. They hear God with a startling clarity, regularity and accuracy and are capable of providing tremendous revelation to the Body of Christ.
Common Traits: “God told me” is the start of every sentence and “God told me to” is the reason for every strange action. The Angel laughs at something God just said to her but then refuses to tell you what it was because you won’t understand. Whatever you’re about to tell her, she also already knows. Why? Because God already told her! Duh!
Effects: The Angel makes people feel inferior and discouraged in hearing God for themselves. Like Captain Ominous she may develop a following but she usually struggles to develop deep and connected relationships because she doesn’t share the inner workings of her own heart with people, only her supernatural visions and mystical revelations from God.
Potential Heart Problem: Fear, Insecurity, Isolation and Poor Social Development.
Remember: If you’ve been hurt, it’s tempting to keep people at arm’s length by using God as a buffer but this tends to just keep you away from the much needed influence of authority figures and the input of Godly brothers and sisters. Fewer and fewer people will actually benefit from your consistent prophetic input because you’ll become an aloof traveller who appears only to dramatically “thus says the Lord” people in the face before withdrawing. No matter how prophetically gifted we are, we’ll always know in part and prophesy in part until we see Him face to face. That’s why we need each other. We all need to humble ourselves and take the two-dimentional polaroid snapshot that God has given us and piece them together to understand what He’s saying to us, corporately and personally. Without open-hearted vulnerability in connected community, New Testament prophecy fails epically. More on that in another post.
Verses to Check Out: Proverbs 18:1, 1Corinthians 13:9, 1Corinthians 13:12
#5 Mr Know-It-All – often very gifted in prophetic insight
Strengths: Someone who’s prophetic insight is so sharp their eyes are pretty much x-rays. They move powerfully in words of knowledge and can reveal the care and attention of God John 4:16-19 style!
Common Traits: Mr Know-It-All knows absolutely everything about you. And he tells you. All the time. Whether in private or in public Mr Know-It-All will display his powerful prophetic insight and your dirty laundry for all to see!
Effects: People are afraid of Mr Know-It-All. He seems more concerned with displaying his prophetic powers than encouraging God’s people and his bedside manner is terrible! He makes people desire the gift of prophecy…but only so he’s not the only one wielding it!
Potential Heart Problem: Pride and Poor Social Awareness.
Remember: We don’t want to be creating an atmosFEAR around ourselves (see what I did there?) making people feel uneasy. Revealing the secrets of people’s hearts is definitely part of the role of prophecy in ministering to people but so is building up, encouraging and comforting. If those three things can’t be found in our ministry, we’re probably just hurting people. Pride can stop us from seeing how our behaviour affects other people because all of our focus is on ourselves and the attention we’re getting. It’s important that we actively grow in love for the Body and its individual members.
Verses to Check Out: 2Peter 1:3-9, 1Peter 5:5-7, 1Corinthians 14:24-25, John 4:16-19
I can definitely say I’ve imitated almost all of these characters while trying to grow in the gift of prophecy inspired by powerfully anointed people. The Holy Spirit’s idea of normal and acceptable may be different to ours and so it’s important that we keep listening to Him and stay prepared to obey even if we do look a little odd, but let’s not open ourselves up to be odd for odd’s sake. Let’s not go rebuking people we see exhibiting these behaviours but let’s come alongside them and check our own hearts and motivations as we seek to hear God more clearly and speak on His behalf.
Please don’t walk away feeling criticised, condemned or discouraged! God wants you! We need you to be you! Whatever that looks like! Let’s all ask the Holy Spirit to keep refining us like silver so that whatever wrong motivation we find in ourselves, He can deal with and purify us and sharpen our gifts.
Thanks for reading! There’s loads I’ve left out but I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’ll leave you with words from the first contributor to this “Dear Prophetic People” series, Mike.
“Dear Prophets, You don’t need to prove yourself. You don’t need to drop a well earned ‘I told you so’. You don’t need to follow up on your words or make sure people know how special they were. You don’t need to talk down a microphone at every opportunity. You just need to follow Jesus. You don’t need a website, you don’t need a business card, you don’t need to write everything down for your memoirs. You don’t need to introduce yourself as a prophet, you don’t need to go to prophet training camp. You just need to follow Him. When we prophesy with ourselves at the centre the gift becomes about us. The words I share, my ability to articulate God. When we have Christ at the centre we remember any gift is and will always be about Him. He’s the only Prophet. He’s the voice of the father to a world in need. He’s the truth that washes over us everyday. He has the words of life, bread, resurrection and hope. Him, not you. The more we walk with Him, the more we know his words, they leak out in conversation, spring to mind when faced with dilemmas. His words become living and burning and you can’t keep quiet. You’ve felt it, you know what it’s like. So dear prophets, there’s nothing specifically wrong with anything mentioned above so keep going but remember it’s not your job to prove yourself. You just need to follow Him.”
Dear prophetic people, be yourselves!
Here’s Part 2!
VIDEO – Manifestations of the Holy Spirit – Some helpful thoughts on strange manifestations
VIDEO – Prophecy 101 – Some basic teaching on the gift of prophecy
VIDEO – Common Misconceptions in Prophetic Ministry – Helping to remove some confusion around prophecy
VIDEO – God Told Me – How to keep yourself from using God to manipulate people
VIDEO – Hearing God – God uses different avenues to speak to us
VIDEO – How to Stay Out of Deception – Learning to trust people will help keep us out of deception
VIDEO – A New Way of Thinking – Understanding our part in the ministry of reconciliation