Newsletter, David Hino, May 20, 2011, updated April 3, 2013
What would a prophetic church look like? Would the church run smoothly because everyone was listening to God? It sounds good in theory but in reality it is very challenging. Like the Corinthian church in the first century, the Apostle Paul faced some difficult problems including disunity among the believers. First Corinthians 13, the chapter on love, was not written for weddings but for the prophetic people at Corinth to get along. Too often people read First Corinthians 12 on spiritual gifts, skip over First Corinthians 13 and jump to First Corinthians 14 on tongues and prophecy. If First Corinthians 13-15 were a sandwich, then First Corinthians 13 is the beef and First Corinthians 12 and 14 are the slices of bread. Too many prophetic ministries have blown up in the past for the lack of love. Prophecy without love is “noise” and “nothing.” (I Cor. 13) The church is too quick to dismiss the prophetic because they believe it is too divisive and prone to error. Rather than throw prophecy out of the church instead increase in love and maturity. Prophetic people are human beings who make mistakes just like everyone else and sometimes are in need of maturing.
Here are sixteen reasons why prophetic people have a difficult time. Many quotes in these areas come from some of the leading teachers in the prophetic such as John Paul Jackson, Jack Deere, Rick Joyner, Graham Cooke and many others.
1. Prophetic people usually think in “concepts” more than in “details”. Prophetic people are more right brain and while most people have been trained to be left brain thinkers. Prophetic people often hear words from God in images and ideas. Rick Joyner says that concept-oriented people and detailed oriented people often clash and sometimes question each other’s motives.
2. A critical spirit is not the gift of prophecy. Prophets too often believe they know what is right and wrong. If you want to prophesize a critical word, it is probably not prophecy, it is criticism. If your prophecy is hurting people, then you are likely being critical and not prophetic.
If we find it easy to give negative words, then we have no understanding of the grace and goodness of God. (Graham Cooke, Developing Your Prophetic Gifting p.76)
3. Learning to live with frustration. Prophetic people must learn to deal with frustration. Frustration is when nothing happens or things get worse for the recipient after you give a prophetic word. Frustration is when others question your theology due to your prophetic gifting. Frustration is listening to strong prophetic people who are telling you five different and contrary things to do.
Frustration is an enemy to the prophetic ministry. It will always color our thinking, infect the word we have, and give us a jaundiced perspective on the life of the church. If we are to represent God’s heart and be good servants, we must learn to master our frustration. (Graham Cooke, Developing Your Prophetic Gifting, p.78)
Prophetic ministers seem to have more disappointment with God than the average person. They often see clearly how things should be or how God plans for them to be. But they have to wait in faith for a longer time because they have seen further ahead. They are much more prone to the Proverbs 13:12 difficulty: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Because their expectations are typically higher, they are more deeply disappointed…. Every time Jeremiah opened his mouth he got in trouble. He was perplexed, he was ridiculed, and he wanted to quit. Nevertheless, the word of the Lord was like a fire burning within him, and he could not hold it back (Jer 20:9). Some of that pain comes with the calling. (Mike Bickle, Growing in the Prophetic, p.130).
The prophetic spirit is not worried about the timing of the prophetic word. It links with the heart of God and declares his heart. Be patient, stay with God, stay with his heart. (Wesley Chambers)
4. Learning to live with rejection. Sometimes the prophetic words may be rejected and criticized by others. The Old Testament prophets often were rejected. Rejection is a common experience for people exercising the prophetic.
Dwelling on past rejections will keep us self-centered instead of Christ centered, which will obviously cause a distortion in our vision. (Rick Joyner, The Prophetic Ministry)The Prophetic Ministry often places the prophet in extreme situations with high stakes: success or failure, acceptance or rejection, vindication or humiliation, life or death. When great success results, victories are won and great revival takes place, the prophet usually expects leadership to appreciate his or her prophetic words and powerful performances. Yet often such leadership reacts instead as Queen Jezebel did – not only with rejection, but with threats of destruction. Consequently the prophet may grow discouraged. Prophets reach the bottom of this pit of despair by descending steps, beginning with disappointment. If the situation is not immediately adjusted with a proper attitude, such disappointment will lead next to discouragement, then resentment, self pity, a persecution complex, and anger. The final step for prophets who climb down into this pit is a bitter and hard critical spirit that causes them to be a law unto themselves, with such a spirit of rejection that no one can reach them in their self delusion. (Dr Bill Hamon, Prophets Pitfalls and Principles)
Prophetic people are especially susceptible to rejection. This rejection can lead to bitterness, negativism, and self-pity – all things that make prophetic people useless for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (Jack Deere Surprised, By the Voice of God, p.205) In rejection we must open our hearts so that the love of God can flow in. Most prophetic people feel rejected because they do not have any relationships of worth and value” (Graham Cooke, Developing Your Prophetic Gifting, p.78)
5. Allowing past woundedness into prophecy. Too often the very thing we prophesied against is the very thing that is tripping us up in our personal life. This type of “prophecy” is dangerous for it often brings condemnation and not encouragement to others.
If, as the prophetic person involved, we move out of a sense of frustration with events, or rejection in the ministry, then it is easier to prophesy our own opinions. Also we must ensure that we are not living with any negative influences over our own lives that can infect the prophetic word… Leaders too can be at fault in this area. There is a need to care for our prophetic people, to give them love, accurate feedback, loving kindness and a framework of discipleship (Graham Cooke – Developing Your Prophetic Gifting p.97).
Sin produces in our heart a critical, negative spirit, which makes us despise whole categories of people. But the sin we hate the most in others, we are sensitized to by our own guilt. We are measured by our own value judgments of others, and our criticisms of them reveal what we really do not know about ourselves. (John Dawson, The Sin of Unrighteous Judgment)
6. Difference between Discernment and Prophecy. I believe the confusion between discernment and prophecy is one of the most common mistakes among prophetic people. Many times prophetic people can sense the sins of others which is the gift of discernment. Discernment is not prophecy. If discernment is spoken as prophecy, this will likely cause much hurt and condemnation. Here is a great illustration I heard the other day. You discern “pornography” in someone’s life. The prophetic word is “God has a destiny of holiness in your life.”
7. Pride. The gift of prophecy can also lead one into pride, for one is tempted to believe he/she is better than others. Seeing sin should cause one to weep not feel superior. If you have the gift of prophecy, your gifting is not more important than any other gifting in the body of Christ. (I Cor. 12).
Why does God have to deal so strongly with those who are prophetic? For one thing, they are so stubborn! For another, they are more prone to pride. (Cindy Jacobs, The Voice of God, p.59)
8. Danger of Self-Promotion. Giving a prophetic word can easily lead to self-promotion where the focus shifts from the recipient being blessed to the one who is giving the prophetic word. Have you ever given a helpful prophetic word but your focus is on public acknowledgment?
Another trap into which I commonly see prophetic people fall is the desire to be awesome in ministry, to be “a prophet to the nations.” This is exactly opposite of the true Spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10). Prophecy is meant to testify to the awesomeness of Jesus, not to the prophetic ministry. (Jack Deere Surprised by the Voice of God, p.207)
Some people are attempting to build enough credibility to insure they won’t be rejected. Since building clout is so important to many prophets, there is the temptation to push hard to get credit for having accurately heard from God. (Mike Bickle, How Pastors Relate to Prophets) Prophets must take on the ministry attitude of the Spirit of Christ, which does not demand the right of self-promotion and self-preservation. (Dr Bill Hamon, Prophets Pitfalls and Principles p.49)
9. Too often pastors and prophets do not get along. Prophets want to move too fast and deal with sin now. Pastors see the whole picture and move at a much more deliberate pace. Pastors want to protect people while prophets want to blow things up. Misunderstandings between the two are common. When the pastor resists, the prophet pushes harder and a cycle of reaction is set in motion. Pastors and prophets have to give each other grace and love.
Many prophetic people get in touch with their giftings long before they cultivate the corresponding wisdom, humility and character that is necessary to succeed in prophetic ministry. In the beginning, they may appear arrogant or pushy because of their zeal. As years go by, their pushiness usually increases because of fear, hurt and rejection. The average person who has been in prophetic ministry for 10 years is pretty beat up and bruised. This is especially true if the prophetic gift was active in their early years. By the time they are 40 or 59 they are often very guarded and suspicious of authority figures. (Mike Bickle, How Pastors Relate to Prophets)
10. The Church and Prophetic. Even though the Bible clearly establishes prophecy as one of the gifts, the church has forgotten and dismissed this gifting and office. The role of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and even apostles are clearly established in many church denominations. The church does not understand the role of the prophet and therefore there is a huge silence on this subject. This silence by the church gives opportunity for others to define prophets as new age, quacks, false and/or demonic. A modern day prophet is never seen as having any credibility but is automatically labeled a “false” prophet. Is it any wonder when people start to move in the prophetic ministry that the church automatically casts suspicion? Prophetic people in established churches have to operate under the radar or keep quiet least other Christians label them in negative terms. In many churches, prophetic people are not supported or empowered but often are tolerated and criticized. Sadly, too many prophetic people either leave their churches or if they constantly feel minimized and unfulfilled in their gifts.
11. Rebellion. Prophetic people need to be under authority. Without being under authority, prophetic people can too easily be lead into rebellion (witchcraft).
I believe that many prophetic people (like myself) do have problems with “rebellion”. They seem to rub leaders the wrong way almost by design sometimes. And then they develop a “persecution complex” or slink off wallowing in self-pity. I have done all of this and more. In times past I have found myself sitting in the “gate” like rebellious Absalom, subtly speaking words against the leadership and growing my own reputation thereby. Rebellion is the most insidious sin, and when you begin to see how much it dominates our world, and how ingrained it is in us, it is a real eye-opener. I have found that it is only when you have dealt with Rebellion that you can trust yourself to speak only God’s word to a leader. Rebellion can greatly affect the words we bring to leaders, and yet many prophets seem to hardly know they have a problem in this area. I can look back now and I wince at the influence of Rebellion over my words and actions in the past. But God does cleanse and heal. Often now I see the Pastor’s point of view – that of a leader and responsible shepherd, when unwise prophets arrive looking for something or someone to ‘target’. So-called “prophets” like this are a curse, not a blessing. God is dealing with Rebellion now. If you can’t sit under authority today, you will be a pain in the neck to tomorrow’s leaders too. Deal with your rebellion now, or miss out. It’s that simple. I believe a lot of problems could be caused by roaming “lone ranger prophets” in the coming move of God – even worse than today. Tell me friend, do you have the makings of being just such a “lone ranger”?? (Andrew Strom)
12. The Spirit of Control. The Jezebel (control) spirit can easily become a part of the prophetic ministry and control people through prophetic words.
Every church that embraces a prophetic ministry will have to contend with the Jezebel spirit because it mimics the prophetic gifts and callings of God. This spirit comes to destroy the prophetic gift. Consequently, since it works covertly, its activities are extremely treacherous. (John Paul Jackson, Unmasking the Jezebel Spirit p.123)
Many prophetic folks begin to take themselves too seriously, or they love the feeling of having such influence over others. They are tempted to make themselves look and sound more spiritual, holy and sensitive than they really are. I encourage them to throw a cloak over their prophetic mystique and deliberately refuse to utilize it to gain favor, praise, opportunities, sympathy, trust, affection or money. Stay impressed with God and His power without becoming impressed with themselves. (Mike Bickle, Growing in the Prophetic, p.62)
13. The Spirit of Jealousy. The prophetic gifting as one of the supernatural and visible gifts can easily be idolized. Prophetic people can often become jealous of each other. Do you envy the gifts of others? Do you secretly rejoice when other ministries fail?
14. Sexual Immorality. The Corinthian church also had problems in sexual temptation and so do prophetic people. John Paul Jackson gives great wisdom in this regards.
Any ministry can fall prey to any sin, but prophetic people seem to be especially prone to sexual sin. Perhaps one reason is because of the heightened sensitivity that comes with the prophetic gift. While prophetic individuals can “feel” the movement of the Holy Spirit, but they can also feel the torment of demonic spirits that attack them through others. Sometimes a prophetic person will begin to discern and feel what someone is tormented with. If the prophetic individual is lax in their time spent with the Lord, it will become increasingly difficult to differentiate between their own feelings and those coming from other people. The second reason stems from various roots of rejection. In many cases, prophetic individuals have experienced rejection so often that they harbor deep feelings of insecurity. Subsequently, they also can harbor pride at doing something others may never have had the opportunity to experience. This pride becomes a driving force that opens the door to deception. Furthermore, they are prone to receive the acceptance of others with open arms, without maintaining an attitude of vigilance. Thus, a prophetic person who has not developed the characteristic of restraint becomes “open prey” for demonic torment and attraction. (John Paul Jackson)
15. Rationalizing Mistakes. The church has set too high of a standard where mistakes are not allowed especially in the prophetic. The church is too quick to label people false prophets when prophetic people make mistakes. Prophetic people are tempted to cover up their mistakes in fear of the church. Prophetic pride will lead to the rationalization of mistakes. Prophetic people are humans who make mistakes and need to have the humility to admit their mistakes while being in an environment where mistakes are accepted.
Sometimes a prophetic person has a hard time admitting a mistake because he or she thinks it would ruin their credibility. Usually just the opposite happens. Rationalizing or failing to admit our mistakes is what usually ruins credibility. People trust people who say they were wrong. (Jack Deere, Surprised By the Voice of God, p.208)
16. Hearing what we want to hear rather than hearing from God. Prophecy can become a crutch. Sometimes people want prophecy more than God. Getting a prophecy can be seen as an easy fix. I believe almost all the major prophetic words given to me have happened when I was simply seeking God and did not expect it. When I seek prophetic words to direct my life, then my motives and my hearing from God can be more easily tainted. When my focus is not centered on God, any prophetic words that I receive may not be heard correctly not because the giver of the word is off but because I may be hearing what I want to hear. Does the word speak into the very depths of our spirit or do we hear something to reinforce a fleshly desire?
I could see the discontentment of the men and women who come to these services. Out of this has arisen the desire for what they think they lack in life. (Most often these are not needs but are nothing more than wants or lusts). This idolatry opens them up to receive words that speak directly to those wants or lusts and strengthens these desires or idols. All that is necessary for them to hear what they want is that they find “ministers” who are lacking in the area of the fear of God. These will be concerned with their reputation, appearance, growth, and agendas. They can be bought or persuaded with the right reward, thus they will speak to them in light of their desires rather by the faithful light of the Word of God. (John Bevere, Thus Saith the Lord, p.76
I am sure there are more than sixteen areas in which prophetic people have trouble. If you move in the prophetic, you must learn to overcome some of the problems that this gift brings otherwise the gift will overwhelm you.
Prophetic Pitfalls, by Ron McKenzie is an excellent article and a helpful resource as I prepared my own article. I used some helpful quotes that McKenzie cites and many of these authors have also impacted my life such as John Paul Jackson, Jack Deere, Graham Cooke and Mike Bickle.
Rick Joyner also has an insight article how prophetic people are more concept-oriented than detailed oriented