At this stage in my life and ministry, I am in a place where, over time, I have been given an increasingly panoramic view of the Church. I preach in churches whose history is not known for the miraculous and in churches that are full-on signs and wonder churches, and everything in between. In each of these settings, I move primarily in a prophetic gift and try to release its blessing and benefit appropriately.
Prophetic ministry is not always the spectacular prediction of a world-changing event or the release of hidden facts known only to the person hearing a word. I have had a number of the latter over the years that truly amazed me, but for the most part, I have a ministry of releasing hope. I remember when God clarified this for me. He said, if I was willing, I could be part of stemming the tide of cultural despair if I let Him do the judging, the Holy Spirit do the convicting, and me simply loving people (thanks, Billy Graham).
There is a danger if you carry a prophetic anointing. That danger is feeling like you always have to produce a word that announces the next big thing. Part of the danger that comes with that mindset is the compromise that any of us can experience from being driven to produce something spectacular and awe-inspiring. If you do just a basic study of Scripture, you will come to understand the life of a prophet was not a day after day release of something amazing. Some of the prophets only said a few things of significance over the course of their lives. That historic reality helped me relax a bit when I was younger and really wanted to have my ministry validated.
I am so grateful to Paul who wrote I Corinthians 14:3, “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” This is the pure essence of the ministry of a New Testament prophet. I think I have this on my mind because over the next few weeks I will be teaching in several venues where I will be speaking specifically to people about the gift of prophecy.
Instead of living for the release of the next big thing, try to season your world with daily words that strengthen, encourage and comfort people. Maybe that prophetic simplicity is what Paul was trying to convey when he opened up I Corinthians 14 with the following verse, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” He was writing to the Corinthian church and any believer in the future who would follow the way of love.
No matter if you have just begun to sense the first inklings of something prophetic or if you are known as an established prophet, your primary function in that gifting is a ministry of strengthening, encouraging and comforting. If you can wake up each day and commit yourself to the way of love, God may from time-to-time release some spectacular revelation through you, but that is not the goal. The goal is to walk in the way of love.