|God is concerned
for the character of the prophet as he is for the truth of his
God is more concerned about the purity of his Prophets, than
the accuracy of their prophecies: He values the men and women
themselves and their motives as much as their message and
ministry (Dr Bill Hamon - Prophets Pitfalls and Principles).
There are several pitfalls, which prophets, young and old, must
be careful to avoid.
- A Critical and Harsh Spirit
Prophets have high standards. They see things in black and
white. This can sometimes result in the prophet being over
critical, which makes their words seem harsh, even if they are
true. If we enjoy giving hard words we may have a critical
Frustration and bitterness
If we find it easy to give negative words, then we have no
understanding of the grace and goodness of God (Graham Cooke -
Developing Your Prophetic Gifting p.76).
Kiwis have a preponderance of the prophetic gifting. But the
downside of that is our propensity to judge others. Moreover we
tend to judge others in the areas of our own weaknesses.
Sin produces in our heart a critical, negative spirit, which
makes us despise whole categories of people. But the sin we hate
the most in others, we are sensitised to by our own guilt. We
are measured by our own value judgements of others, and our
criticisms of them reveal what we really do not know about
ourselves (John Dawson - The Sin of Unrighteous Judgement).
All prophets experience rejection, if their words are not
always accepted and obeyed. If this happens frequently, the
prophet can become frustrated, and frustration can lead to
bitterness. Words spoken out of frustration and bitterness will be
contaminated by these things and will not come out pure. This is
one of the most serious problems faced by prophets.
They must learn to deal with rejection without going into
frustration and bitterness.
Frustration is an enemy to the prophetic ministry. It will
always colour our thinking, infect the word we have, and give us
a jaundiced perspective on the life of the church. If we are to
represent God’s heart and be good servants, we must learn to
master our frustration (Graham Cooke - Developing Your Prophetic
Dwelling on past rejections will keep us self-centred instead
of Christ centred, which will obviously cause a distortion in
our vision (Rick Joyner - The Prophetic Ministry).
The Prophetic Ministry often places the prophet in extreme
situations with high stakes: success or failure, acceptance or
rejection, vindication or humiliation, life or death. When great
success results, victories are won and great revival takes
place, the prophet usually expects leadership to appreciate his
or her prophetic words and powerful performances. Yet often such
leadership reacts instead as Queen Jezebel did - not only with
rejection, but with threats of destruction. Consequently the
prophet may grow discouraged.
Prophets reach the bottom of this pit of despair by
descending steps, beginning with disappointment. If the
situation is not immediately adjusted with a proper attitude,
such disappointment will lead next to discouragement, then
resentment, self pity, a persecution complex, and anger. The
final step for prophets who climb down into this pit is a bitter
and hard critical spirit that causes them to be a law unto
themselves, with such a spirit of rejection that no one can
reach them in their self delusion (Dr Bill Hamon - Prophets
Pitfalls and Principles).
If, as the prophetic person involved, we move out of a sense
of frustration with events, or rejection in the ministry, then
it is easier to prophesy our own opinions. Also we must ensure
that we are not living with any negative influences over our own
lives that can infect the prophetic word… Leaders too can be
at fault in this area. There is a need to care for our prophetic
people, to give them love, accurate feedback, loving kindness
and a framework of discipleship (Graham Cooke - Developing Your
Prophetic Gifting p.97).
I have seen a phenomena among God's people. I have seen that
the prophets with the clearest vision and highest call are those
that the enemy isolates and desires to overcome with bitterness,
rejection and a critical spirit. Some of the most influential
prophetic people in my life carried an edge of bitterness, that
if not tamed with brokenness, threatened, and in some cases
shipwrecked the person. The travesty is that many of these
people have been ridiculed and driven from the very church to
which they were called to be a voice and watchman (Kris Couchey
- Bitter Prophets).
Prophetic people are especially susceptible to rejection.
This rejection can lead to bitterness, negativism, and self-pity
– all things that make prophetic people useless for the
ministry of the Holy Spirit (Jack Deere Surprised - By the Voice
of God p.205).
Prophetic ministers seem to have more disappointment with God
than the average person. They often see clearly how things
should be or how God plans for them to be. But they have to wait
in faith for a longer time because they have seen further ahead.
They are much more prone to the Proverbs 13:12 difficulty:
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick." Because their
expectations are typically higher, they are more deeply
disappointed…. Every time Jeremiah opened his mouth he got in
trouble. He was perplexed, he was ridiculed, and he wanted to
quit. Nevertheless, the word of the Lord was like a fire burning
within him, and he could not hold it back (Jer 20:9). Some of
that pain comes with the calling (Mike Bickle - Growing in the
I empathise with prophets speaking an unpopular word that
comes from God's own heart, and being rejected. What a
devastating experience for a prophet. We feel God's grief
personally, because that is the way God has made us. Rejection
for a prophet is like torture! (Andrew Strom).
In rejection we must open our hearts so that the love of God
can flow in. Most prophetic people feel rejected because they do
not have any relationships of worth and value" (Graham
Cooke - Developing Your Prophetic Gifting p.78).
Bitterness is presented in the Bible as a kind of sharp,
pungent poison. It’s like bitter bile. This is why avoiding
offense and an offended nature are so important. These traps
often inject the bile of bitterness into whomever they capture
and leave them tainted and defiled. When someone’s spirit is
tainted, everything that flows from their spirit is tainted.
Prophets are particularly susceptible to his both because of the
hard path they have usually had to walk and because the
anointing on them is often so strong. The power of the anointing
can often amplify what is in their hearts, making a bitter heart
a putrefying experience for all who hear them (Stephen L
Mansfield – Pastoring the Prophetic).
Given the path that most prophets have had to walk, both as
Christians and before, there is usually an exceptional need for
attending to issues of wounding and bitterness. If these aren’t
addressed, the prophet will likely gravitate to an isolated,
critical, and hardened condition of heart that can quench the
prophetic fire. If these issues are addressed successfully,
however, there can be a greater love and wholeness and thus a
clearer prophetic flow than ever (Stephen L Mansfield –
Pastoring the Prophetic).
A cave seems to be a safe place, but it is not a dwelling
place. The Body of Christ is full of wounded prophets who went
into a cave and dwelt there. (Janet Chambers - Cave Dweller or Tower Dweller)
Prophetic people often get angry with those who do not
receive their words, when the real problem is that the message
was not spoken clearly. The prophetic person may have been given
a truth to share, but if the trumpet does not sound a clear
call, no one will respond. The hard truth for prophetic people
to swallow is that an unclear word is a dead word.
Praise from friends and people who have already received the
word does not mean much. We are all receptive to words that
confirm our own views. The real test of a word is whether it is
clear to those challenged by it.
Taking rejection as a sign that a word was true is dangerous,
because this is not always the case. Rejection often occurs
because the word was not clear, and sometimes because it was not
Prophets must be constantly looking at the way they presented
their message. They should hone their words, so they can present
a clearer warning.
Prophets usually lead lives that are extremely righteous. They
can easily take on the spirit of the Pharisees, who felt good,
because they could see the sins of other people. Pride is very
destructive of prophetic ministry (Wallis).
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence (Psalm 5:5).
Another trap into which I commonly see prophetic people fall is
the desire to be awesome in ministry, to be "a prophet to the
nations." This is exactly opposite of the true Spirit of
prophecy (Rev 19:10). Prophecy is meant to testify to the
awesomeness of Jesus, not to the prophetic ministry (Jack Deere
Surprised by the Voice of God p.207).
Why does God have to deal so strongly with those who are
prophetic? For one thing, they are so stubborn! For another, they
are more prone to pride (Cindy Jacobs - The Voice of God p.59).
Prophets must avoid the trap of pushing their name forward.
This pushiness often comes from frequent rejection, but must be
rejected. Prophets must be servants of God’s word. Their only
concern should be that God’s word is heard. If the word is
heard, it does not matter if the prophet is forgotten. Prophets
are human, so this is easier to say than to live. When a prophet
hears a word he brought being quoted with the vague words, "I
think this came through a young man who lived in the south",
his heart will often scream for his name to be mentioned.
This feeling is human, but is dangerous for the prophet, because
it is rooted in pride, and pride kills prophecy. Prophets must
struggle to quiet their hearts and be content if the word they
spoke is being heard.
Many prophetic people get in touch with their giftings long
before they cultivate the corresponding wisdom, humility and
character that is necessary to succeed in prophetic ministry. In
the beginning, they may appear arrogant or pushy because of
their zeal. As years go by, their pushiness usually increases
because of fear, hurt and rejection. The average person who has
been in prophetic ministry for 10 years is pretty beat up and
bruised. This is especially true if the prophetic gift was
active in their early years. By the time they are 40 or 59 they
are often very guarded and suspicious of authority figures (Mike
Bickle – How Pastors Relate to Prophets).
Some people are attempting to build enough credibility to
insure they won’t be rejected. Since building clout is so
important to many prophets, there is the temptation to push hard
to get credit for having accurately heard from God figures (Mike
Bickle – How Pastors Relate to Prophets).
Prophets must take on the ministry attitude of the Spirit of
Christ, which does not demand the right of self-promotion and
self-preservation (Dr Bill Hamon - Prophets Pitfalls and
Pride often leads to rebellion. Rebellion is terribly crippling
for a prophet. It is the moral equivalent of witchcraft (1 Sam
Control and Manipulation
I believe that many prophetic people (like myself) do have
problems with "rebellion". They seem to rub leaders
the wrong way almost by design sometimes. And then they develop
a "persecution complex" or slink off wallowing in
self-pity. I have done all of this and more. In times past I
have found myself sitting in the "gate" like
rebellious Absalom, subtly speaking words against the leadership
and growing my own reputation thereby. Rebellion is the most
insidious sin, and when you begin to see how much it dominates
our world, and how ingrained it is in us, it is a real
I have found that it is only when you have dealt with
Rebellion that you can trust yourself to speak only God's word
to a leader. Rebellion can greatly affect the words we bring to
leaders, and yet many prophets seem to hardly know they have a
problem in this area. I can look back now and I wince at the
influence of Rebellion over my words and actions in the past.
But God does cleanse and heal. Often now I see the Pastor's
point of view - that of a leader and responsible shepherd, when
unwise prophets arrive looking for something or someone to
'target'. So-called "prophets" like this are a curse,
not a blessing.
God is dealing with Rebellion now. If you can't sit under
authority today, you will be a pain in the neck to tomorrow's
leaders too. Deal with your rebellion now, or miss out. It's
that simple. I believe a lot of problems could be caused by
roaming "lone ranger prophets" in the coming move of
God - even worse than today. Tell me friend, do you have the
makings of being just such a "lone ranger"?? (Andrew
Our democratic society is a breeding ground for
insubordination. Because of this we have lost sight of what it
means to submit to authority. True submission never wavers. Yet
today we only submit when we agree. If authority goes against
our will or direction, we disobey or grudgingly go along with it
until a better option presents itself. This makes us especially
vulnerable to deception and the counterfeit prophetic ministry
(John Bevere Thus Saith the Lord p.125).
The Jezebel spirit uses manipulation and control to achieve
results. It is the opposite and the enemy of the prophetic
ministry. Prophets must avoid all temptation to "help"
the fulfilment of their words by manipulating people.
Misuse of Power
Steer clear of the "Three C's" Condemnation,
Control, and Criticism. These have to stay out of our prophecy.
We need to root out the three C's ruthlessly in our words, in
our thought life, in our actions. Don't give them a place. Don't
pray them, don't think them, and don’t speak them. Then they
won’t get into the prophecy
Every church that embraces a prophetic ministry will have to
contend with the Jezebel spirit because it mimics the prophetic
gifts and callings of God. This spirit comes to destroy the
prophetic gift. Consequently, since it works covertly, its
activities are extremely treacherous (John Paul Jackson -
Unmasking the Jezebel Spirit p.123).
The prophetic spirit is not worried about the timing of the
prophetic word. It links with the heart of God and declares his
heart. Be patient, stay with God, stay with his heart (Wesley
God gifts are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). This
means that prophets can misuse their gift. Elijah and the rude
children is an example. The scriptures do not say that Elijah’s
behaviour as correct. They just record the incident. Elijah was
not perfect, he just did his best with the knowledge that he
had. With knowledge of Jesus and his teaching, it is clear that
Elijah misused his gifting. The boys who mocked him were
irrelevant. He should have just turned the other cheek and
James and John acted in the same way when they wanted to call
down fire from heaven on those who opposed them. Jesus warned
that they were acting in the wrong spirit. I think he would have
said the same to Elijah. Prophets must not use their gifting to
protect their role or their reputation.
Prophets can often become jealous of other ministries that seem
to receive much more honour and acceptance. Jealousy can prevent
us from hearing clearly.
Men who have not mastered glory get easily offended at
others. We get "this stinging bitterness" inside of us
when we have not died to glory. We will only have menial success
in life and ministry with this hindering spirit still raging on
the inside. It will cause a jealousy to build on the inside of
you. It will make you feel good when others "ministry does
not work." It will make you feel the "I am the one who
can do this". "I am the one"! "I am the
one"! Dying to Glory is the hardest death to die (Elijah
list - Dying To Glory 12/2/01).
Prophetic people need to have the fear of the Lord operating
in their lives much more than others (Cindy Jacobs - The Voice
of God p.68).
John Paul Jackson warns that prophets need to be ver careful
about sexual temptations.
Any ministry can fall prey to any sin, but prophetic people
seem to be especially prone to sexual sin. Perhaps one reason is
because of the heightened sensitivity that comes with the
prophetic gift. While prophetic individuals can "feel"
the movement of the Holy Spirit, but they can also feel the
torment of demonic spirits that attack them through others.
Sometimes a prophetic person will begin to discern and feel
what someone is tormented with. If the prophetic individual is
lax in their time spent with the Lord, it will become
increasingly difficult to differentiate between their own
feelings and those coming from other people.
The second reason stems from various roots of rejection. In
many cases, prophetic individuals have experienced rejection so
often that they harbour deep feelings of insecurity.
Subsequently, they also can harbour pride at doing something
others may never have had the opportunity to experience. This
pride becomes a driving force that opens the door to deception.
Furthermore, they are prone to receive the acceptance of others
with open arms, without maintaining an attitude of vigilance.
Thus, a prophetic person who has not developed the
characteristic of restraint becomes "open prey" for
demonic torment and attraction (John Paul Jackson).
Some prophets are so worried about their mistakes that they
refuse to admit them. No one is right 100 percent of the time.
Calling Out Sins Publicly
Sometimes a prophetic person has a hard time admitting a
mistake because he or she thinks it would ruin their
credibility. Usually just the opposite happens. Rationalising or
failing to admit our mistakes is what usually ruins credibility.
People trust people who say they were wrong (Jack Deere
Surprised By the Voice of God p.208).
Prophetic ministers must guard against self deception, self
justification and improper motivation (Dr Bill Hamon - Prophets
Pitfalls and Principles p.59).
Prophets should not publicly accuse individuals of sin. The
gospel provides guidelines for dealing with Christians who sin.
They should first be spoken to in private.
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault,
just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won
your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two
others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the
testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to
them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to
the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector
Many prophetic folks begin to take themselves too seriously, or
they love the feeling of having such influence over others. They
are tempted to make themselves look and sound more spiritual, holy
and sensitive than they really are. I encourage them to throw a
cloak over their prophetic mystique and deliberately refuse to
utilise it to gain favour, praise, opportunities, sympathy, trust,
affection or money. Stay impressed with God and His power without
becoming impressed with themselves (Mike Bickle - Growing in the
Money can be a cause of blindness. Prophets should be careful
about giving favourable words to those who provide them with
financial support. Generally, it is better if prophets can be
financially independent of the church and the community.
Materialism and money have always been a problem in prophetic
ministry. Micah complained in his day, "This is what the
Lord says: ‘As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if
one feeds them, they proclaim ‘peace"; if he does not,
they prepare to wage war against him" (Mic 3:5). When
prophets succumb to the temptation to give good prophecies to
those who treat them well and bad prophecies to those who don’t
show them special deference, then the Lord may cease speaking to
any of the prophetic people (Jack Deere Surprised By the Voice
of God p.209).
People pleasing is a killer for all ministry, and especially
prophetic ministry. Prophetic people who tell people what they
want to hear will lose touch with God (Gal 1:10; Ezek 13:2). A
true prophet should not expect the praise of men (Luke 6:26), they
will seek only the approval of God.
Confusing Wisdom and Prophecy
Human love can taint a word. Sometimes love blinds the
prophet, causing him or her to give a good prophetic word when
the Lord wanted to give a word of correction (Cindy Jacobs - The
Voice of God p.186).
I could see the discontentment of the men and women who come
to these services. Out of this has arisen the desire for what
they think they lack in life. (Most often these are not needs
but are nothing more than wants or lusts). This idolatry opens
them up to receive words that speak directly to those wants or
lusts and strengthens these desires or idols. All that is
necessary for them to hear what they want is that they find
"ministers" who are lacking in the area of the fear of
God. These will be concerned with their reputation, appearance,
growth, and agendas. They can be bought or persuaded with the
right reward, thus they will speak to them in light of their
desires rather by the faithful light of the Word of God (John
Bevere Thus Saith the Lord p.76).
Few self proclaimed ‘prophets’ are anything more than
teachers. I see too much of the man pleasing spirit everywhere.
I have just preached a little on Samuel. Now there was a
prophet. Are there any so-called prophets operating in the realm
of Samuel? If any, I don't know of them, and have never heard of
them. Are there self-proclaimed prophets around the world? They
are more abundant than cent pieces, and yet just about every
single one of them are more travelling teachers who couldn't
prophecy themselves out of a paper bag (Ivan Poulter).
One of the greatest problems a young prophet or prophetess
can have is an attitude of presumption (Cindy Jacobs - The Voice
of God p.124).
Regardless of which ministry we are called to, we must not
copy or emulate other people, but rather the One whose image we
are called to bear. Schools for prophets may be helpful, but
they will be counterproductive if they just bring forth
"parrots", who all prophesy the same things (Rick
Joyner - The Prophetic Ministry).
When reading many of the words on prophetic lists on the
internet, it is hard to distinguish between human wisdom and true
words from God. Many of the words have good applications of the
scriptures and others provide good insight into what is happening
in the world, but none seem to be very different from what would
be heard in many Sunday sermons, of the pastor seeks the Lord
about what he should say to his flock. Calling these words
prophetic, not only devalues the meaning of the word prophetic, it
makes it hard to dig out the genuine word from the Lord.
Most prophetic people have studied the scriptures for most of
their lives. They usually have a passion for God’s Kingdom and
are keen observers of all that is going on in the world. This puts
them in a good place to comment on what is happening in current
events or to develop sound applications of the scriptures. Their
wisdom is often be really insightful and worth sharing (often more
relevant than the editorial writers who dominate the websites of
news organisations), but it is not the word of the Lord, so it is
misleading to label it prophetic.
A prophet must be able to distinguish between what they receive
from the Lord and what comes from their own wisdom. If they are
unable to do that, they are on a very slippery slope, which often
leads to disaster. Prophets should be very clear about the source
of their words. If a word comes from the Lord, the prophet should
say so. If it a prophetic of their wisdom and experience, they
should label it as wisdom. If they are not sure, it is better to
be modest than to exalt their wisdom.
When prophets do not distinguish between their human wisdom and
a word from the Lord, the word prophetic confusion follows. The
true word from the Lord, which his people need to hear, gets lost
in the “prophetic slush”. The biblical prophets used everyday
language and context to describe what they saw, but they were also
very clear about what was a revelation from God and what was a
description of their response or their experience.
Blindness to our Culture
The hardest thing for a prophet is to see the weakness and sins
of their own society, culture or denomination. If we are attached
to something, we can be blinded by it. A true prophet stands apart
from their culture.
The late 20th century release of prophetic spirit into the
world has been perhaps the greatest spiritual marvel of our
times. Prophecy is an amazing phenomenon for the way it bridges
two worlds at the same time. The burden of the prophetic is to
bring the things of heaven to bear on the earth, to enforce the
authority of the eternal over the temporal with a view to
transforming the earthly to become like the heavenly. But with
this burden comes a mandate. The mandate is this: before we can
transform the earthly into the heavenly, we must first lose our
love for the earthly. If we attempt to execute the prophetic
burden upon earth’s affairs without first losing our love for
and identity in our culture, our spiritual gift and office
becomes overpowered and subverted by our culture to reaffirm its
own ways. The prophetic becomes a mouthpiece for the very powers
behind culture which it has been dispensed to challenge and
oppose. We become culture prophets (Chris Anderson, Little Flock
- Culture Prophets).
If we attempt to execute the prophetic burden upon earth’s
affairs without first losing our love for and identity in our
culture, our spiritual gift and office becomes overpowered and
subverted by our culture to reaffirm its own ways. The prophetic
becomes a mouthpiece for the very powers behind culture which it
has been dispensed to challenge and oppose. We become unable to
discern between the loves of John 3:16 and I John 2:15, deceived
into believing that God’s love for men and our love of culture
are the same thing-- and their agendas as well. Now, as prophets
of the culture, or "culture prophets," we begin
prophesying to the glory of our culture--- our nations and our
denominations, our government’s policies and our society’s
passing fancies, our civic customs and our religious holidays---
believing we are indeed prophesying the true mind of the Lord
and the true love of the Father to the world. We think we are
executing God’s will to transform the earthly into the image
of the heavenly, but are only debasing heaven, lowering God to
the image of the earthly (Chris Anderson Little Flock - Culture