Words for the Church or Its Leadership
One of the most frustrating challenges for a prophetic person is delivering a word from the Lord to the local church or its leadership that falls on unsympathetic ears. It’s not usually much of a problem with prophecies about the church growing exponentially or miracles that are going to rain down in the house, but if you’ve got a word about repentance or course correction, it’s quite another story! The less than enthusiastic response can tempt one to crawl under a rock and quit.
The problem could be that the word truly is off (or partly off / partly accurate, or maybe not delivered very graciously), but a lot of times all that is wrong is that the prophetic person is ahead of the game, seeing into future happenings that don’t look like they fit with current trends or events. Remember, when you receive something from the Lord, it feels so relevant to you that it may seem like a “now” word — but it may not be for yet. Even a positive word about great things to come may excite everyone in the moment, but when months go by without seeing its fulfillment, they won’t always continue to believe along with you.
Even church leaders who understand how prophetic gifts operate don’t always recognize that someone’s revelation really is from the Lord — because it doesn’t fit their present mindset. A course adjustment word may not be embraced because it is not pleasant to hear that something is amiss, especially if everything looks fine right now. So you get the blank stare, or see the brush-off body language, or maybe you even get the verdict, “That’s not God.”
This is hard. It can cause you to second guess whether your word is genuine, and it can cause you to fret about whether you will be taken seriously in the future. Nobody wants to have a track record of being perceived as the kook in the church family.
Hang in there and wait it out, even if you feel alone (and you will, at times). Just because you aren’t hearing the same things as the other prophetic people around you doesn’t necessarily mean you are off-balance. It could just be that factor of living in a different time zone showing up. Eventually, someone else will have revealed to them the same thing that you have heard. It might even be your pastor. A number of times I’ve told my pastor about something God was showing me, and he didn’t seem to see its importance, only to have him receive the same word months later, long after he had totally forgotten whatever I’d said.
While we are waiting, it can be comforting to realize that great people of the past have experienced the same problem. It took hundreds of years for some of the Old Testament prophets’ words to be completely fulfilled. Some have yet to see fulfillment — but they will. Those prophets took a lot of heat in their day. Many true prophetic words were not popular then, and the same happens now.
I often think of Jesus’ mother Mary. Gabriel brought her quite a stupendous revelation about the Son she would carry. Her fiancée Joseph was a godly man with a prophetic bent himself. It is likely that Mary expected God to tell him about the coming baby, too. But He didn’t, until the eleventh hour. Joseph finally received his own angelic encounter and all was set right, but in the meantime, Mary suffered humiliation because of a true word from God that no one in her immediate acquaintance understood or believed.
Most of us will experience humiliation too, although to a lesser degree, as we wait for the present to catch up with what we have seen or heard futuristically.
Next time, we’ll talk about how to survive that humiliation and successfully live out the prophetic calling God has put upon us.