In the Old Testament, every time God wanted to do something significant, He would raise up a prophet. Today, God is still looking for men and women who will listen to Him and speak for Him. Would you love to speak for God? Lead spiritual movements? Catalyze people toward God’s mission? For that to be the case, you and I must embrace the requirements that come with being a prophet. Prophets have a few key characteristics.
Prophets get their vision from God.
Prophets never define the vision for themselves. God doesn’t promise to put His stamp of approval on our agenda. Prophets must get the vision from God. The word vision in the Bible is actually translated revelation. Vision is something revealed to us by God! We don’t get our vision from a conference or another church or organization. True prophets spend time alone with God enough to receive a fresh vision only God can give. If we want to be the type of prophet God uses in these last days, we have to be still enough for long enough to know what God is saying. We must accept that we do not invent or strategically shape the vision. We get our vision from Him!
Prophets challenge the status quo.
A true prophet is bold enough to go against the grain. When we communicate a fresh vision that challenges the status quo, some will disagree with us. No prophet has ever gotten 100 percent support from everyone. Jesus couldn’t even get 100 percent support! He even had one guy who was kissing him on the cheek while stabbing him in the back! Why would we think that our leadership would be different?
Prophets embrace criticism and loss.
If you begin challenging the status quo, it won’t be long until you are approached by a group that wants to “meet and talk about some things.” This was the case with Nehemiah.
“When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall … Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: ‘Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.’ But they were scheming to harm me” (Nehemiah 6:1-2 [NIV]).
Nehemiah reminds us that every prophet has had critics and criticisms. How do we respond to critics and criticism in our leadership? Just like Nehemiah did. First, we shouldn’t spend too much time listening to them. Nehemiah said:
“I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer” (Nehemiah 6:3-4 [NIV]).