I would hazard a guess that 95% of prophetically gifted individuals would would function more confidently if they were given ongoing encouragement from Church leadership.
Instead, many face the challenge regularly, of how to break through discouragement, disillusionment and rejection. Feedback for the prophetic ministry is often rare. It is strange that pastors and leaders value encouragement and feedback themselves, sometimes feel that they lack that input from those they minister to, and yet do the same to others!
It is an emotive question, but do leaders really think that they are honouring God by treating prophetically gifted people in this way? In a sense they may be unwittingly demonstrating how much they value the prophetic ministry by the way they encourage it. But for many, this is an oversight and not the intention of their heart.
Many leaders value highly prophetic input but are simply poor communicators when it comes to encouragement! Prophetic people need to be gracious in this area and take courage from King David’s testimony as a man who ‘encouraged himself in the Lord”. Encouragement from a friend goes a long way though.
But are Church leaders responsible for encouraging the prophets? In a clumsy approach to encouragement, some leaders find themselves uncomfortably scrambling for answers. In the process that follows comes the issue – should they be “mentoring or monitoring” the prophetic?
True, some prophetic individuals have dug holes for themselves by their bad character, and some of them need to be told clearly that they are not prophets! But many are genuine, and whilst only a handful might actually be ‘prophets’ the remainder do display a remarkable and encouraging capacity to hear from God. The gift of prophecy is alive and well in our churches, and it is worth all the encouragement that is given to it!
We do need to mentor the prophets.
- The starting point for this is always trust.
- Mentoring is not public recognition of gifting or ministry
- Mentoring allows the leader to bring helpful direction and clarity to the way that prophetic people minister. Not everything that they do is done well – leaders, tell them when those moments exist, and how they can better communicate what is on their heart.
- Mentoring allows leaders to bring greater accountability and transparency to the prophetic person. Relationship is fundamental to the process of mentoring.
Why mentoring and not monitoring?
Mentoring is about encouragement, direction and discussion and is personally empowering, and grace filled.
The same cannot be said for monitoring. Monitoring is about performance and rarely will feature the gentleness of grace. Someone being monitored knows that they are being watched to see where they fall short. In some churches where the prophetic is tolerated, this is the the experience that the prophetic person may encounter. It doesn’t bring any encouragement.
Prophets don’t always know how to receive encouragement, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t receive it – and mentorship is a brilliant way for it to happen.
Encourage the prophets!