Many years ago when I was a youth I had a life-altering encounter with the Holy Spirit. I was praying in my bedroom and I heard the voice of the Lord speak to me and say, “I’m going to use you.” I remember replying, “but God you can’t I’m too young.” To that response the Lord spoke to my heart and told me to open my bible. When I did it fell open to the book of Jeremiah and this is what I began reading: “The Lord gave me this message: ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.’ ‘O Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!’ The Lord replied, ‘Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!’” (Jeremiah 1:4-8)
I can still recall to mind the euphoria of that moment, and how excited I was to know that God had a purpose for my life. Little did I know what the journey of this purpose would require of my life. Many are unaware of what a true prophetic mantle entails; we have a tendency in modern Christendom to glamorize certain gifts without teaching the costs that are associated with them. As a pastor who operates in a prophetic/apostolic authority, this requires me not to simply oversee those to whom I’ve been entrusted, but also to foresee with hopes of leading those in such a way as to prepare and equip them for the times that lie ahead. A prophetic office in the church can and often is a lonely place. A person in this office sees what others do not, and then given the task of leading them by correction and direction to the place that God is calling them to be. The prophetic mantle bears the responsibility of correction and direction when it comes to God’s people and nations. However, the success of this duty is determined by not only the prophet, but also the hearts of those he/she is given the task to lead. If their heart is hard and they don’t want to listen then they abandon, reject, and even persecute the prophet, but if they choose to listen and obey what God is saying, then they succeed.
Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.” (2Chronicles 20:20)
I’ve tried for many years to teach the members of Gateway that where they sit is unique because of the prophetic mantle, but it can also be very difficult. The messages and focus of ministry is often driven with the tones of correction and direction, not tempered with the fluff of pleasantries or spiritual nuances. To the hearer, this type of prophetic edge can sometimes be cutting and difficult to receive as helpful to the hearer. Add passion to this and it can become overwhelming, especially when we’ve been trained to desire what makes us feel good, what’s non-offensive, and non-confrontational. Most of us only seek a message that agrees with us, not what challenges us. Not only do we now seek messages that agree with us, but also authority that accommodates us rather than holding us accountable. This is everything that a prophetic/apostolic person is not.
I truly have a vision with a passion to be used in raising up a people who are fully equipped to succeed in the purposes of God for their lives counting the cost with every step they take and running this race with the endurance it takes to win. It can be a struggle, however, not to conform to the preferences of others in an effort to keep them because you care for them. God, however, quickly reminds me that mine is not a position to seek the favor of men, but to obediently serve the calling within. I cannot serve those God has given me to lead without loving them, but I cannot misplace my love for them by appealing to them at the cost of disobeying God. This is the reason why people are quick to both pledge their allegiance and then abandon their commitment.
Decisions of leadership cannot be made for the consideration of one over the well-being of the whole, this risks compromising the direction God is calling the whole to move forward in. If one is unwilling to move in the set direction they often abandon course but blame the leader for not either waiting on them or accommodating their preferred route. When those who choose to abort the course fall from the ranks, then those who remain are left to take up the burden that was abandoned and the added load becomes wearisome. This becomes an even greater strain on the prophet because the people are following the one who sees what they cannot see, and they begin to question the leadership of the one who is leading. The thoughts that begin to invade reason are those like, does he really know what he’s doing? Is he really hearing from God? Did God really choose him? Is it time for new leadership? These prevailing questions can even begin to pierce the confidence of the leader. One of the greatest examples of this testament is found in the recorded exodus of God’s people under the leadership of Moses (Exodus Ch 3 -Ch 34, Numbers Ch 10 – Ch 16).
When God led me to Jeremiah as an oracle of my life’s purpose, little did I know that my journey would mirror his as well. Jeremiah was a youth when God called him (Jeremiah 1:4-7). He had vision with a word that burned with passion (Jeremiah 20:9). He was sent to a place he did not want to be (Jeremiah 29:7). He spoke correction and direction (Jeremiah 4:1-4). He was given insight and the command to share God’s word to a people who did not want to listen because it wasn’t what they wanted to hear (Jeremiah 6:10).
What do I desire? I desire that together we live, move, and have our being in Christ, that we finish together what God set our lives on course to fulfill together, and that we carry on in the journey laid out for us by God succeeding in His purposes to His glory. I desire the best for every life God has entrusted to me despite what it costs me of my life. Though I desire these things for those I serve, I can only lead each person as far as they follow. There is a cost with every step, but there is a prize for those who finish the race.
I’ll end this by sharing with you what I see. I see a people who God is raising up to release in changing the world in their lifetime. I see Him using a people to change the world by first reaching their city. I see a people God is using to reach their city by teaching them to see as He sees, love as He loves, serve as He serves, and think as He thinks all by learning under those He has called to lead and equip them.