I often find myself sitting across a meeting space with people wanting counsel in times of transition. There are some common threads to these conversations. People are in a season of transition. They feel uncomfortable with where their decisions have taken them. They are looking for approval to move into the new season and reassurance that their new decisions will fix the problems their old decisions have caused.
People get to such a place of discomfort with their current season they are ready to boldly step out and follow themselves somewhere else. They believe their current discomfort is God’s way of telling them to change, and they also believe the solution is almost always to leave where they are and start in a new place they have chosen. Now to be sure, very few people know that is the narrative they are explaining, but that is almost always the plan.
These meetings always fall into two categories. The small category are the people who come and want actual input. In contrast, most just want “confirmation” that their diagnosis of the problem and their prescribed solution are spot on.
The first group are more concerned with following God’s plan than their need for comfort. They have come to recognize their own fallibility and their need for other voices. They are willing to put in the work to figure out what part they played in their predicament and protect long-term relationships. They ask questions early in the process and listen to answers. They look for signs before they make decisions and don’t just see them as confirmation of their will. Their lives are mostly marked by stability and increasing prosperity.
For the second group, there is an insecurity that if you disagree with any of what they have communicated, you are somehow disparaging their relationship with God. They clutch to their revelation tightly in fear that their revelation will be dismissed. They have been discipled by a system of prophetic all-stars who can prophesy no wrong, their revelations can not be questioned, and the student’s goal is to be as perfect as them. Even though they say they are growing in the prophetic, they have grown beyond anyone who may question them.
Self evaluation is a terrible weakness of our current prophetic system. Nobody can be a false prophet anymore. Trustworthiness is determined by book sales. To doubt a prophetic word is to doubt the gift of prophecy. None of this is biblical or lines up with historical Christianity but perfectly protects their business model.
If there is no failure then there is no reason to repent, grow and change. This is a deadly heresy.
Our Failed Prophetic Movement
The false belief that every thought about God’s will must be perfect and perfectly followed is a direct product of our broken prophetic movement. Modern prophets bill themselves as having secret access to the mind of God and create a false theology stating that if their customers are spiritual enough, they too can have perfect revelation.
I was once an ardent follower of these movements. I began to heavily filter what I took in as I watched Proverbs 25:14 come to life at the Lakeland Revival. Every night seemed to culminate with a new promise of double portion anointings, mantles, and my favorite, the presence of the person of Jesus night. (Whatever that is.) I saw actual miracles in the early days of those meetings, but I took what was spoken from the stage with a grain of salt because none of the promises of impartation ever came to pass.
I inherently knew that these teachings would not stand the test of time. They would not become foundational doctrines and were simply spiritual junk food for the throngs of Charismatics who hoped they could achieve what these ministers claimed to be. Yet still I stayed in the Charismatic camp for years after these meetings. But I knew that I would never be one of the big name guys because I did not possess the ability to make stuff up and claim that those words were from God.
As an enneagram 8 I rarely believe everything I hear. This has protected me in this movement. But I also rarely believe everything I say. This has also been a blessing. It has caused me to have an inner need to know that what I speak is bringing actual, long-lasting fruit. As Paul said in his first letter to the church in Corinth, the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. The fourth chapter of that letter could be written to the church today. Paul was warning them not to align with teachers trying to sell blessing believers already have in Christ. He warned that their goal was to themselves and not to Jesus. In other words, don’t listen to apostles and prophets who say they will get you on their level if you align with them. They are not the gatekeepers of God.
Failed Teachings Produce Failed Followers
2020 has been a painful lesson in how wrong all of this Charismatic hocus pocus has been. The prophets did not speak the coronavirus away. They actually risked people’s lives by falsely aligning real science with their delusional conspiracy theories. They really said things like it would be gone by Passover, it is an election year hoax, a vaccine would quickly be discovered, that God showed them it would not become a pandemic, and one guy said he would personally keep it out of Florida by his authority.
There was a time that I aspired to be counted among these men. My fatal flaw was that I wanted the same feedback I required of others. I didn’t want to simply post click-worthy words. I wanted to deliver words that revealed Jesus and changed lives. We simply can’t get that if we are not hearing voices outside our circle of influence. If you are only testing your prophecies by the words of other people on the prophecy circuit you aren’t going to get real feedback.
Likewise, if your personal word about how to get out of your season of discomfort is only tested by your closest friends or your family, I doubt you are going to get real feedback and useful solutions.
Current charismatic ministry models completely neglect the proper way of discerning a healthy solution to problems. We have to recognize our failures and seek to understand how they happened. We need to map out how we got to where we are now and only then can we use this information to inform our future. If we fail to do this, we are bound to repeat these mistake after we blame our current location for our failures.
There is much to be learned from this season. Like every other king in the Old Testament, the lessons are mostly what not to do. If we believe that God allowed them to be evil to show what false beliefs produce, we should not be surprised that the same is happening today.