As you compare scriptural examples as well as contemporary life experiences, you find a variety of times, ways and styles that people have been called into prophetic (or any other) ministry. Some seem to be "born with a gift." Others are "born again with a gift" or "baptized in the Spirit with a gift." Still other callings are gradual and emerge later in life even though the person was sovereignly called before they were ever born.
Samuel was called as a child (1 Sam. 3:1-15). Elisha's call came when he was a man plowing a field (1 Kings 19:19-21). Amos' call to prophesy came while he was a herdsman and grower of figs (Amos 1:1, 7:12-14). John Baptist's call came in the womb (Luke 1:41). The following are a few clips from my personal journey of receiving and following after His call upon my life.
In my pilgrimage, I was set apart unto the Lord by the prayers of my mother before I was ever born. As I grew up, Jesus was my best friend and close companion! But it was not until I met the Jesus People in the early '70s and was introduced into the baptism of the Holy Spirit that I began to operate in the vocal gifts. In fact, before I ever was released into the wonderful gift of speaking in tongues, I prophesied—though I did not even know what the gift was at the time. The visionary side of the prophetic broke forth also, as mental snapshots would invade my mind. But back then, I didn't know that these were actually visions.
I spent much time in prayer, worship, community and sitting under anointed teaching. But I could not find a prophetic mentor. Nevertheless, for the next 10 years (1973–1983) I cried out to the Lord for the "School of the Prophets" to come forth. Eventually I came across the books Elijah Task and Interpreting Symbols and Types and they, alongside my New American Standard Bible, became my mentors and constant companions.
Those days were filled with abounding zeal, passion for God, and a hunger to impact people through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and an unquenchable thirst for His unfolding destiny in my life.
Peaks and Valleys—The School of Hard Knocks
For many of us, Elijah is a prophet we connect with in a special way. He had great mountain top experiences but he also had some serious valleys he walked through. After a great victory on Mount Carmel where a 3 1/2-year drought ended, he then went and hid in a cave in fear of Jezebel.
Some of us, like Elijah, also have had our share of peaks and valleys in the life of a prophet. I have had my share of lessons learned in the School of Hard Knocks like the necessity of mercy, what to share with whom and when to keep your mouth closed. The following (from a humorous yet truthful side) exhibit some of the pits and pinnacles in the pathway of becoming.
The Pits or the Valleys
1. People treat you like you're special.
2. People no longer treat you like you're special.
3. You are treated like you are a jukebox machine or a wind-up toy.
4. You're not prepared, and you're "called up front" in a meeting.
5. You think you are ready, and nothing comes to you.
6. You are read, and others don't want it, like it or respond to it.
7. You are ready, and you aren't called on.
8. You make messes for yourself and others to clean up.
9. There are so many parameters put in place that you're afraid to do anything.
10. You're too afraid to risk your reputation.
11. You've exaggerated a word and everyone knows it!
12. You've exaggerated a word and no one knows it except you and God.
13. Your gift exceeds your character!
The Peaks or the Pinnacles.
1. When it really works!
2. When character and gifting match up.
3. You learn from past mistakes and failures.
4. Denial is turned into correct identity.
5. The prophetic spirit is imparted to others.
6. You embrace the pits, kiss the cross of Jesus and you are changed.
7. A heart of mercy and penetrating truth is joined together.
8. You step aside long enough for Jesus to be seen.
9. When the lost are impacted and Jesus is glorified.
The Quest Continues—Moving on Out!
There can be many excruciating lessons in our journey of becoming all that He desires. God doesn't want us to give a message only—He wants us to become a living word. Because a person gifted in the revelatory is often extra-sensitive, the area of character development must be given special attention. But eventually the cross of Christ will become the love of any truly prophetic person.
I have been through many seasons of hurt, misunderstanding and deep anger. But the Lord has redemptively used it all to cultivate a deeper place of mercy within, a genuine love for His body and a high value of releasing the power of blessing to others. The power of forgiveness and displaying honor are both keys that will keep you moving forward. But never lose your desire for "More Lord!" Always be a person of passionate pursuit of the will and ways of God.
The prophetic person must learn to overcome fears and failures of the past. These old fears will influence you less and less as you mature. Seek cleansing and release of fear from past hurts; fear from past deceptions, fear from past defilements; fear from past sins; and fear from past control of men. Keep on keeping on. Walk in the light! Don't quit. Continue! Press on to the upward call in Christ Jesus!
In life and ministry there can be many progressive times of release and various types of commissioning. We are called, and we continue to be called. We are trained, and we continue to be trained. We are "sent out" and we are brought back again to be re-trained, re-tooled, and re-envisioned so that we can be re-commissioned with fresh purpose and power all over again. Always give the glory to the Lord and continue in your quest!
Casting the Mantle: The Power of Multiplication
A year ago, I was given a dream where I walked into an office that had been vacated for some time. Dust had accumulated on the top of the desk. I took my finger and wiped the dust off the desk. I asked the Lord, "What is the name of this office?" He spoke to me, "This is the room of mentoring. It has been vacated for a long time and it holds the key to the multiplication anointing."
After 30 years of full time ministry, I am captured with the desire and the need to multiply my life and ministry into the lives of others. It is time for a new generation of fathers and mothers in the prophetic to arise and pour their lives into others. It is time to "cast the mantle." This should be the goal for all of us as authentic Christians.
Elijah cast the mantle and anointed three in his place—Jehu, Hazael and Elisha (1 Kin. 19:15, 2 Kin. 2:12). Jesus trained the twelve (Luke 10:1-17). Paul mentored many but especially fathered Timothy (1 Tim. 4:14, 2 Tim. 2:6). I too have been graced to have various mentors at different times in my life—each for different purposes.
I have been taught by teachers; received a spirit of supplication while praying with intercessors; empowered by the Holy Spirit when ministering with healing evangelists; received revelation by hanging out with prophets and seers; learned to love the church by strategizing with apostles. On and on it goes. But it is time to continue.
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