It is so easy to be delighted with a new puppy. He is so cute, soft, cuddly, and eager to please. His tail is wagging and he is so happy to play with his new family.
He is given dishes of fresh water and puppy food, toys, and his own place to lie down.
All is going very well for a while, but the puppy has not yet learned his boundaries, or the rules of the house. Before long, there are piddles on the kitchen floor and carpet, and chewed up shoes strewn about the bedroom. He has developed a pattern of barking at anything and everything at all hours of day and night.
Now the mood in the house has changed. The puppy is not so appealing anymore, and may even, after a time, be considered a nuisance and not worth the trouble.
This scenario is not too unlike what often happens when a person newly birthed into the prophetic gifts comes into the local church.
At first, there is great delight as the newly prophetic person begins to give a prophecy or tell a vision. He may be nervous at first, unsure of what he is perceiving or a little insecure about speaking out in public.
After a time, he finds he and his gifts have been well-received, and he rests in the love and encouragement he experiences. He becomes more confident and is emboldened to continue.
However, as with puppies, without wrong intention and although meaning well, he invariably makes some mistakes, some errors in judgments or timing or tone. He may blurt out insensitively in a way that further wounds a hurting person. Or he may believe he is called to “straighten out” a leader, or he may even interrupt the pastor’s teaching. He may deliver an accurate word from the Lord in such an obnoxious manner, that no one is receptive to what he had to say.
The mood in the house has now changed. At this point, some decide it is not worth the trouble to allow the saints to minister with their gifts. Or the prophetic enthusiast decides to he is not appreciated and it would be better if he left.
However, the best thing is for him to humbly learn how to be a blessing, frequently with the loving, helpful correction of the elders or pastor.
Some people are embarrassed or hurt when needful adjustment comes, even if they are taken aside and it is delivered in the kindest way. It is not easy to receive or give correction, and in my experience, it can often go awry.
Need for Pastoral Wisdom
Some elders and pastors lack understanding and discernment into how healthy prophetic ministry is to function in a public setting. They may be unaware of how to offer genuinely constructive criticism that does not promote the unintended shutdown of the gifts.
Other leaders abdicate their responsibility by allowing the “piddles and chewed shoes” to continue unchecked. This inaction discourages the congregation, weakens the leadership, and may inadvertently allow the neophyte to remain deluded that all is well.
Sadly, too often, pastors and prophetic people find themselves at odds with one another. Respect, patience, and a willingness to work together will go a long way towards personal and ministry maturity.
Pastor, do not get discouraged if you have to clean up a few messes from the learner. The writer of this proverb made a pertinent observation.
“Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.”
~ Prov 14:4 NAS
Need for Instruction and Training
Like the new puppy, the prophetically gifted believer is delighted to share his gifts and wants to be faithful to the Lord and a blessing to the people.
His errors, are just that, the errors of the inexperienced or the bad habits his unchecked behavior has developed.
Here is a key verse for believers:
“So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.”
~ 1 Cor 14:12 NAS
To edify is to build up the church. The gifts are given to be an encouragement, to add strength or comfort. The church is to be stronger and more passionate to serve the Lord as a result of the gifts.
Again, humility will go a long way in furthering future effectiveness in ministry.
We are all in a process of growth and maturity. If God has stirred you to desire and pursue the gifts, we agree with that and encourage your development.
With some instruction, reassurance, and training in a safe environment with patient teachers, you can excel.
A Practical Solution
Piddles and chewed shoes can become a memory or rare occurrence, rather than an ongoing reality.
We have a shovel to help clean up the messes and also guidelines to help prevent more messes!
We offer classes and workshops designed to encourage and instruct those who wish to minister spiritual gifts in courtesy, wisdom, and respect.
We also offer training to sharpen the more experienced believers to improve their ability to minister accurately and to become a greater asset to the work of the ministry.
“…Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” ~ Col 4:17 NAS