In my last article “Prophetic Integrity” we talked about how the prophetic has been perceived and the need to raise a standard of Integrity so that we honour God and represent His nature correctly.
I want to follow on from there but highlight the integrity of the role of the prophet.
There are realms of authority in the prophetic that we need to be aware of because we need to be careful that we do not function in something that God has not given us. God appoints a prophet; not man and not one self. God may use other mature ministers – apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, and pastors to appoint or commission a prophet. This will then be confirmed many times by other seasoned ministers.
We might secretly have a need to be recognised as a “prophet”, or to use it as a badge of pride instead of a position of service, there may well be ambition operating in our hearts. Ambition leads quickly to self deception, as we push hard for something hiding in our heart. By contrast, the Bible says: “A mans gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” (Proverbs 18:16 NKJV)
God makes room for us when He can trust us to fulfill the role. Carrying a label or a title of self-importance will not benefit us and will bring great dishonour to God.
A sign of immaturity or people pleasing, is someone who calls themselves a “prophet” and wants to call everyone else a “prophet”, even though God may not have said it. It is not a label and should not be used lightly or to please man.
As I mentioned in the last article, it can cause a lot of dysfunction in a person if they are appointed or commissioned before their time. There can also be an idol in the person’s heart to want to be a prophet. Consider Ezekiel 14, which talks about a person having an idol in their heart and a prophecy which speaks to the idol instead of revealing what God is saying. Numbers chapter 22 gives an example of Balaam who went to God with an idol of greed in his heart and heard from the idol instead of what God was clearly saying.
New Testament Prophets
What do New Testament Prophets look like in this modern day? Let me present 8 distinguishing marks of healthy prophetic ministers:
1. They are humble, they want all the glory to go to God.
2. They are team players. They are not isolated but recognise they need other prophets.
3. They are accountable. They have strong structures of accountability around them.
4. They are submitted to their local leadership.
5. They know that they prophesy in part. They don’t presume to have all the answers.
6. They encourage prophetic people to come together, without competition and comparison.
7. They are sensitive to others’ protocols, beliefs and understandings.
8. They are careful to deliver the Word of the Lord according to God’s nature, even though the word may bring correction and direction.
Prophets and prophecy
It is a common misconception that because a person prophesies well, they must be a prophet . This is far from the truth. One may cook well and not be a chef. One may sing well and not be a performing artist. There is a realm of difference between one and the other. Prophecy is a gift for everyone (like cooking and singing!)
Consider 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts but especially that you may prophesy.”(NKJV) It is clear that all should prophesy. Paul is talking about spiritual gifts and the gift of prophecy, not the role of the prophet. A person can operate very accurately and effectively at this level of prophetic gifting but not be a called, appointed or commissioned a prophet.
There is a huge distance between the authority of someone who functions in the gift of prophecy as described in 1 Corinthians 14 and the role of the prophet as described in Ephesians 4:11.
For people in ministry and for churches who are endeavouring to bring back the prophetic, this distinction is important.. The role of a prophet in the New Testament is to lay a foundation for the prophetic. It is their role to activate, enable, train and encourage people in the prophetic and how to use it properly. With a resurgence of churches wanting to re-visit the prophetic, to give it another go and with pastors and leaders making room for the prophetic, it must be done correctly and with integrity.
We have been invited by many different churches from a variety of denominations to train people to be prophetic, to hear from God, to prophesy over leaders and congregations. We are privleged to be a part of the resurgence of the prophetic. Prophetic Activation School is being invited by leaders because we bring in the prophetic safely and with accountability.
We suggest protocols and set up guidelines which help to protect people and also enable them to function with confidence and integrity. Some people don’t like the idea of protocols. But, the foundation of our practice is to create a safe, accountable, God honouring environment for the prophetic to operate and grow. We recommend protocols to help people function in sound biblical manner.
For example: “He who prophesies speaks edification, exhortation and comfort”. (1 Corinthians 14:3NKJV) This is a protocol.
The nature of God is to build up, encourage and console. God is love. A seasoned prophet can bring a correctional or directional word even within these guidelines. There are wider boundaries for a prophet than just edification, exhortation and comfort. A prophet is authorised to move beyond these. Someone who is not a seasoned prophet (someone who is operating in the gift, for example), should not bring a word of correction or direction. When a seasoned prophet gives a word of correction or direction – out of obedience to God – that word will bear much fruit.
Some, who don’t like protocols, claim that protocols limit the Holy Spirit. They also claim that protocols are just a tool used by leaders who want to control. The Bible is clear: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40 NKJV)
If leaders provide safe boundaries and guidelines, this allows people to exercise and develop their spiritual gift. Those who adhere to protocols will mature in the gift and will be more effective. Without an understanding of right protocols, a person operating in the gift may not be as effective and, worse still, may bring dishonour to God and to their leadership. It is important to have a safe environment in which people are able to practice. How do we do that without causing carnage?
By clearly defining right protocols.
Practice and exercise
“Solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14 NKJV)
This scripture suggests a person needs a lot of practice to mature and be effective in the gift. My experience in running Prophetic Activation Schools in many places, and with many different denominations, has proven this to be true. The people who come to multiple schools and practice the gift for many, many hours, are those who actually start to mature in the gift.
God is looking for faithfulness.
He wants us to mature in the gift but more importantly, He wants us to mature in our character.
“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another mans, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12 NKJV)
God is also looking for integrity.
“The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.” (Proverbs 11:3 NKJV)
“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7 NKJV)
God is raising up a prophetic people.
God will entrust his powerful gifts to those with integrity. He will continue to build integrity in us by dealing with the things in our lives that are holding us back. And sometimes that can be very uncomfortable. However, God is wanting to establish a prophetic people who are credible, trustworthy and effective.
He is calling forth prophetic people who are willing to stand for integrity and honour him. A people who are willing to submit one to another, submit to leadership and be accountable with the gift he has given them. A people who will step forward and raise a new standard.